I recently got published in an article for the Empowerment Group’s Summer Newsletter.
“Brittney Lewis knows her espresso. Entrepreneurship, however, is a brand new venture for this young Philadelphian.
After working with coffee for six years, Lewis felt ready to start her own coffee shop. Her time working at Starbucks and a variety of independent coffee shops left her wanting to offer similar services, but in a more inclusive environment. She felt that coffee shops, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods, charge far too much for
espresso drinks to make locals feel welcome.
She explained, “I loved working, but I wanted a different mission. I’m out to help nonprofits and give affordable coffee. I want to give back to the community and engage the poor, as well as those who have.”
But a shot of fresh roasted expertise, stirred with idealism and a clear mission statement doesn’t necessarily make a business plan. Lewis took initiative and enrolled in Empowerment Group’s Entrepreneurship Training Course earlier this year to learn practical tips on getting started with limited start-up funds, marketing her business, and building partnerships.
“Empowerment Group helped me be more focused. I was very broad and idealistic at first,” Lewis shared. With the session’s strategic planning and Lewis’ innovation, the idea for the Leotah’s Place traveling coffee cart emerged.
“I was thinking of ways to not spend money and still start a shop,” Lewis explained. So far, the coffee cart has been an effective way to shape her vision for Leotah’s Place and start building publicity. Lewis has catered six events already and has four additional events lined up.
Owning a coffeehouse is still an eventual goal for Lewis. She wants to be able to use the physical space as a safe environment for neighbors to connect and engage with each other. She still works her day job as a pastor’s assistant at the Circle of Hope church in Philadelphia, but is on track to resign in February 2010 to devote more of her time to Leotah’s Place.
Lewis continues steaming milk and spreading joy as her small business materializes. She says she learned a good deal from the Entrepreneurship Training Course, and simply from the ins and outs of beginning to run her business. She advises other entrepreneurs, “Don’t underestimate yourself and what you can do,” adding with a laugh, “just do it, then figure it out.”
Learn more about Brittney’s story and Leotah’s Place’s services at her events blog.”