This summer, GOBankingRates is continuing its annual tradition of the Small Business Spotlight by featuring small businesses that have been nominated by our readers. We hope to shed light on inspiring local businesses, particularly after the pandemic left so many establishments struggling to get back on their feet.
In this small-business feature, we’re spotlighting Blue Mountain Coffee, an internationally renowned and award-winning coffee shop based in West Palm Beach, Florida. The business’ origins began in St. Andrew, Jamaica, where founder Allison Boettcher was born and raised. Inspired by the rich cacao and Caribbean fruits of her city, she set about harvesting and roasting coffee beans from the Blue Mountain on her family’s estate. Today, this Jamaican delicacy can be enjoyed in West Palm Beach as the business exclusively serves Blue Mountain Coffee alongside their own private Blue Mountain Coffee label.
While sipping a delicious cup of coffee, Blue Mountain Coffee House visitors can enjoy delectable food options including pancakes, sandwiches, salads, pastries and special Jamaican dishes like ackee and saltfish and curry chicken. With everything this small business offers, it comes as no surprise the location has been awarded the “Emerging Business of the Year 2022” by the Black Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, and Boettcher was a recognized as a finalist in the categories “Diversity Organization of the Year” and “Small Business Person of the Year 2022.” Here, we speak with Boettcher about how she made Blue Mountain Coffee a success despite opening just before COVID-19 hit, the national recognition she has been awarded and the advice she has for up-and-coming small-business owners.
What was it like being such a new business when COVID hit? What pivots or adjustments did you have to make to persevere through the pandemic?
This was one of the most challenging times of my life, but likewise one of the most rewarding. I was able to apply all my business skills and financial acumen to my business. I developed a closer relationship with God, since prayers, faith, hard work and perseverance kept me going. One of the changes [I] made was transforming my concept into an online platform to compensate for the lack of a physical customer base. This was very challenging since I had not even gained the typical coffee shop experience.
What lessons did you learn about running a business during an extremely difficult time that you continue to live by today?
I continue working hard and meticulously. I also learned to do with less. There was a massive shortage in product inventory and business had to go on, so becoming more innovative was essential.
Congresswoman Lois Frankel invited you as her guest to this year’s State of the Union Address at the Capitol. What was it like to receive that honor and what was that experience like?
I was honored by Congresswoman Lois Frankel and President Joe Biden by receiving the Congressional Record for my perseverance and accomplishments during COVID-19 as a small business. I had not fully understood the ramifications of this award until pulling it up online and seeing that all congressional records are housed in the Library of Congress.
This year, I was the virtual guest of honor to the State of the Union and will accompany Congresswoman Lois Frankel next year to the Capitol. Just the fact of being selected as her guest was a huge honor, but then to receive the Congressional Record honoring me as an individual is massive!
What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
Never go in business for only the money, or else it will become an empty dream chasing after a wad of papers. Instead, enjoy the journey of choice, as you work towards achieving your goals.
I am very old school and I do believe young entrepreneurs should first work in the field or gather the required experience prior to venturing on their own. Learning to have disciple and structure are quintessential to one’s success.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.