Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Krista Boese, owner of High Seas Coffee Company, located in Linden, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
High Seas Coffee was born out of the belief that high-quality coffee should be the standard, not the exception. Especially in rural areas. So bringing “big city” quality to a small town has been very rewarding. And then to have people driving quite a distance to come to the shop has probably been the biggest validation.
While our main focus is our espresso drinks – we roast our own coffee – we also bake and sell pastries, have breakfast and lunch paninis and salads. We make most Starbucky (my own word) style drinks like frappes and other concoctions. We have soft serve ice cream during the warmer months and make thousands and thousands of milkshakes – everyone breaths a little sigh of relief when we stop ice cream for a few months.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up with my dad bringing multiple thermoses of coffee along to work, and my grandpa drank 10-12 cups a day. So I’ve always “known” that coffee was next breathing in importance. When I was introduced to specialty coffee, I knew that I wanted a career in that industry. I often cannot believe that I own a coffee shop and that my massive Pinterest coffee shop board that I started years earlier when this all was a dream has been used to run my shop! I also love challenges, chaos, making systems to increase efficiency, and being busy. So a perfect fit for what High Seas has turned into.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As I mentioned earlier, having tourists drive hours to come to our shop is one of my biggest achievements. Growing enough to need and be able to afford some high-quality equipment that makes better coffee/food has also been fun and rewarding. It is extremely satisfying to see the surprise people have when they stop in - we almost always exceed all expectations of what they were expecting from a small town shop.
Some other gratifying compliments are the ones where people say they can no longer go to other shops because the drinks just don’t taste as good as ours, or that they can always trust our quality. Consistent quality and friendly service are what we are constantly striving to improve on.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It’s sometimes hard to stay motivated, keep the enthusiasm high, always having to perform at a higher standard than the rest because you’re the boss gets tiring. Now during COVID, the feeling of being alone, standing against the world, trying to keep your business open despite the many, many restrictions put on the hospitality industry has been absolutely exhausting and demoralizing. While I’ve found I’m quite good at innovating and finding a solution to still keeping/attracting customers despite the restrictions, shutdowns – it is not something I necessarily wanted to know about myself and has definitely taken a toll on me. That being said, I do not want to sound ungrateful – we have not had to live through any of the tragedy that COVID brought to so many lives. In some ways, the changed focus of people staying in their own area has helped us gain many local, loyal customers, so I feel like I should not complain.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- I cannot emphasize enough to be consistent in all things - consistent product quality, consistent operating hours, and consistent friendliness.
- Patience - growth happens slowly from daily, unrewarding in the short term hard work.
- When making bigger decisions, remember to weigh the pros and cons for the future, too, not just the immediate needs of the business.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A tip for consistent product quality – make it standard practice to weigh or measure. We have a ton of scales and weigh or use measuring cups for almost everything each time we make it. No eyeballing – once you have a standard practice in place, it actually takes less time and less brainpower to use a scale than it does to eyeball things.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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