Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marlene Heese, owner, and manager of Kochi Tea Company, located in Denver, CO, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

International Tea & Coffee Cafe-Kochi Cafe. We are the "Community Living Room" for the neighborhood. It is a place of peace, tranquility, and connection. Kochi was created to give every person a place to meet, greet, work, study & connect.

Tell us about yourself

I started traveling and living overseas at the age of 19. I have lived in Haiti, India, Africa, China & Thailand. While living in Thailand, we developed the "Kochi Tea' with an Organic Tea Estate. It was a fascinating experience. The tea was sold in high-end restaurants, and people loved what we created. After returning from Asia, we purchased the tea shop to create our own "Kochi Cafe." Our goal was to build a place for the community to connect with others and explore the tastes of tea and coffee from around the world.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

As a business owner, my goal was to create something beautiful & profitable that brings people together. It has been a joy to see hundreds of people walk through the door and love what we have created. Kochi is a family-owned business, and I am able to work with my husband and daughter, who manages the cafe' on a daily basis. It has brought us closer as a family, and we make a good team!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I have never owned and operated a cafe' before, so I have had to learn a lot of hard lessons along the way. I'm thankful for them now, but it is tough because it depends on your leadership and humility. I have to be able to make many hard decisions and make sure I am really listening to the staff & customers needs at the same time.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

I would recommend people research their specific business interests and make sure that the numbers work to make it a profitable business. Surround themselves with others who have been successful to learn from them and know it will take a lot harder work than you expect. There are so many things that happen that you just didn't plan on and that you have to persevere through them all. A proverb says, 'All hard work will bring a profit.' It just might be harder than you think... so be prepared and don't give up.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Thanks for letting me share my story. I'd love for you to join us at Kochi Cafe' and share your feedback with me. We all have different skillsets, and learning how to work well with other people who have different skills is where the magic happens.

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; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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