How This Southern Coffee Shop Is Branching Out After Major Pandemic Hardships
We here at GOBankingRates want to help get our nation’s small businesses back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, we’re highlighting readers’ favorite small businesses around the country, and shining a spotlight on what makes them special to their customers and their towns.
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In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring Ravenwood Coffee & Creations in Clarksville, Tennessee, a family-run business that offers locally roasted coffee and hand-blended herbal teas, sells local art and other creations from local crafters, and serves baked items from local bakers. Here, we chat with co-founder Erica Jennett about how she and her family knew it was time to turn their side hustle into a full-time business, how they help support other small businesses and why aspiring business owners shouldn’t be intimidated by the major players in their field.
Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
In 2016, [co-founder] John [Jennett] was selling his woodworking under a tent at a local craft fair in town. [His wife] Christy started experimenting with syrup creation, and soon they started selling coffee under the same tent. Everybody absolutely loved the coffee and they were asked to become a permanent fixture at the craft fair. Soon, the business grew to be too much for a tent, so a brick-and-mortar location was necessary. The demand for our coffee was so great that we knew it would make a successful business. It was at this moment that Ravenwood Coffee and Creations was born.
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What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?
The number one thing we took from our past business experience is how different we wanted our product to be. We were tired of the harmful ingredients that many other coffee places were [using]. We created our own coffee syrup recipe that is natural and doesn’t have those harmful preservatives. Additionally, we wanted to support our community so have partnered with a local veteran who roasts our own blend of coffee that we created. Another takeaway from past experiences is how we wanted to treat our employees. Our number one goal is to make sure our employees feel respected, valued and appreciated. We do everything we can to make sure our employees love their jobs and love working for our family.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
Honestly, we think the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner is being able to use our business to help other small businesses. In our shop, we sell handmade items from several local artists and creators. Many of these individuals do not have the ability to have their own brick-and-mortar shops, so we offer them ours. By doing this, many local creators can reach new customers and have their products on shelves. We would say another big reward is using our business to help local animal rescues, veteran organizations and our community. We hold several animal adoption events and hold fundraisers to raise money for several organizations in our community.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
In the middle of the pandemic, our building was sold. We had 30 days to find a new home or we would have to close our doors. Our community rallied around us and helped us raise money and find a new location. We are so thankful to our customers and community who have continued to support us during such a hard time for many small businesses.
How can people continue to support your business during this time?
For our local people, the best way is to come into our shop and be a lifelong customer! However, we have recently launched a Shopify page so people all over the world can have our bagged coffee or k-cup pods delivered right to their door.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
The number one piece of advice we would give to someone who wants to start their own business is to not be intimidated by other big businesses. If you have a dream to open your own coffee shop, follow that dream and don’t be scared of the big chain coffee places. Personally, we believe the way to success is to never stop believing in yourself or your business.
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This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.