We are so excited to share our sneak peak featured vendor with you this week, Down Dog Coffee. The owners behind Down Dog Coffee are the most incredible, community members and down-to-earth people you may ever meet. They always have a heart for the community and reach out to support, give, sponsor and grow organizations and people they believe in. It was no surprise to us that Down Dog Coffee was one of the first businesses to jump on board to be part of our Thrivebox project. We asked Glenna Whitaker, one of the four owners of Down Dog Coffee, to share their passion and heart with you!
How long has Down Dog been in Business?
We have been in business since March 2018.
What motivate you to start your business?
The 4 of us are all huge coffee fans. Dustin (Whitaker) and I took a trip to Portland that really opened our eyes to the coffee industry as a whole. When we came home from the trip Dustin got a mini home roaster for his birthday and we quickly fell in love. We had always wanted to start business but we knew we wanted one with meaning and purpose. We named it Down Dog Coffee to pay homage to yoga, something Dustin attributes to changing his life, and something we believe can benefit everyone.
I have always been passionate about women's rights and empowering women for as long as I can remember. I was actually working for a modeling agency in Los Angeles specifically focused around this platform when we decided to start our business. Being surrounded by amazing strong women only inspired me to want to find other ways to encourage all women to reach their potential. As fate would have it, when I was researching green coffee importers I came across a non-profit we could partner with to support women coffee producers in their countries called Cafe Femenino. Women who are part of the Cafe Femenino program receive a premium on top of their fair trade pricing that they can use for their specific needs. The premiums and grants the women receive can vary anywhere from buying new farming equipment, to building health clinics, or can go towards fostering education for their children. More importantly it demands these women have a voice and a seat at the table, they can own the land they farm, and they handle the money and negotiations.
Shortly after we started the endeavor of Down Dog we knew that we couldn't run our company alone. We reached out to our friends Ashley and Nick (Emery) because we knew they had the same entrepreneurial spirit as well as hearts for giving back. Ashley is an RN and voluntarily traveled to Haiti to help after the 2010 earthquake devastation and Nick has always dreamed of having a coffee shop one day. We knew that being like-minded would be a great adventure for all of us.
Initially, we were renting space from another coffee roaster but together we sought out to find a space of our own. After many grueling months of preparing our location we were able to open our own roastery in Redlands in May of 2019.
What do you love most about owning your own business?
There are so many wonderful facets to owning a business but the two top things that come to mind are the people we get to meet along the way as well as the freedom to carve our own path.
Since running this business we have been able to meet so many countless incredible human beings. Whether they are people we work with inside our industry, other small business owners, or new customers. Everyone is so different and unique, all with their own stories and paths, and having a business just creates opportunities to meet and learn from people you otherwise might have never met.
As far as freedom goes we have the ability to be creative and build a business however we see fit. If we go down one path and realize it's not working and we need to tweak or pivot we can do that too. We get to steer the ship. We don't have to follow any path but we can actually create our own. There is something very powerful and beautiful about being able to choose our own destiny.
How do you feel as an entrepreneur, how has it changed you as a person?
As entrepreneurs it definitely forces you to harness and develop your inner drive. Your business will only be as successful as you make it. There will be moments that test you, moments that make you want to scream and pull your hair out, but after those moments pass we get to be proud that we didn't let those moments break us. It definitely builds our confidence when we can overcome difficult things and in return we get to see our visions come to life.
What do you consider your greatest rewards/impacts/successes?
Our greatest rewards have definitely been being able to open our own storefront as well as come up with events and promos to help organizations for women. Even though we are still newer and growing we are still beyond grateful when together, with our community, we can give back to charities that are important to us, like Thrive Single Moms, as well as support the women of Cafe Femenino. We cannot wait to see what
more we can accomplish as time goes on.
From your perspective, what does it mean to empower a woman? How do we build a woman up?
To empower women means to give them the tools and support they need to be self-sustaining. Whether it's through education or job opportunities, empowering women helps women realize they can have control of their lives. We can build women up by encouraging them to utilize their voices, mentor them to grow and develop their unique skills, and most importantly help them recognize a woman's place is anywhere her heart desires.
We love that statement, "A woman's place is anywhere her heart desires." Pablo Picasso once said "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose is to give it away." We are committed in helping women find their gift, connect with their heart desires, and to meet that with the mentoring and coaching through the support we receive through Thrivebox, and we're especially grateful to partner with companies like Down Dog Coffee to bring about change for women locally and globally. If you would like to learn more about Down Dog Coffee their website is www.downdogcoffeeroasters.com/ourstory. You can also find out more about Cafe Fermenino at www.cafefemenino.com .