The organizers suggested we bring cards to share information with all the other ladies we would be meeting and of course, to promote our blogs!
I used my same business cards that I have for everything.
They are nothing fancy.
They have the basic info, my picture and blog URL.
But do you notice the second line under my name?
'Future Coffee Shop Owner'
Pretty bold claim, right?
Almost every single person, (especially Anne), wanted to know 'What's that about?'
Tell me more...
About two years ago, I decided to network more around town- possibly get involved in some volunteer activities.
My first stop was a local Young Professionals Connection (YPC) happy hour.
It was at a suburban sports bar that I was not a patron of and much to my dismay, I could not encourage or otherwise coerce anyone into going with me.
Instead I 'womaned up' and went solo.
When I arrived, it was a lot of professional-looking YP's with nametags huddled into groups of people they appeared to already be familiar with.
I signed in, stuck a nametag on my chest and ordered a beer for a bit of liquid courage.
Luckily, someone noticed I looked a little overwhelmed and introduced himself.
That guy was Mike Banasiak (now current president of YPC). He asked me where I was from, where I worked, and then said 'So what brings you to YPC?'
I told him some spiel about how I was looking to network- I'd been working for the same company a long time and wanted to expand my professional and social circles. He asked me if I had a business card.
I gave him a blank stare.
I though,t 'Why would I have a business card? What would I put on there? I don't really have a job that requires me to meet with clients or any reason that would require a business card...'
Then Mike said, 'What do you want to do? Obviously you came to YPC because you are looking to network for a reason...so if you could do anything you wanted, what would that be?'
And without a second thought I said:
'I'd own and operate a coffee shop.'
He then asked me a lot of questions about why that was my dream and started introducing me to other people: 'Meet Nicole. She wants to own a coffee shop someday.'
The idea stuck.
There are a few things about me that I believe led to this dream:
- When I was a kid I wanted to own a bookstore. I love to read and I love the feel of being in a bookstore. (Sidenote: do not take me to a bookstore unless you want to lose hours of your life). I think bookstores and coffee shops have a lot of similar features. In fact, most bookstores have coffee shops in them!
- My very first coffee shop experience was in 8th grade with my friend Jane. It was called Java Row (I think) and was located as part of this florist's shop up the street from our school. Once, during an early dismissal, we walked there to hang out. We ordered mint chocolate mocha's to sip on while we gabbed and did homework. I thought it was SO AWESOME.
- Coffee smells like home to me. My dad and my grandparents are both big coffee drinkers. The smell of percolating coffee conjures up a swirl of great memories: leisurely weekends complete with big, hearty breakfasts; loading up my kiddie mug with sugar and milk so I could hang out with the grownups; strong, hot cups of joe served with after dinner conversation in my grandparents kitchen... The smell literally warms my heart.
- The atmosphere inside a coffee shops just makes me HAPPY:
- I love the community- the way people rally around causes near and dear to their heart - using the coffee shop as their gathering spot.
- I love the talking- the way people gather and chat about their neighborhood, their day or even just the weather. Coffeeshops are for story telling. I have yet to see another place foster conversation the way a coffee shop does. Something about a hot drink and a slower pace invite casual coming together.
- I love the education- coffee shops always seem to encourage students and lifelong learners. I adore being in a learning environment and am naturally drawn to any place where I can be exposed to something new and different.
- I love the ownership- most coffee shops are locally owned and managed. If you don't know, I'm a pretty big advocate of keeping it local.
- Two years ago, I went to San Francisco to visit my friend Jane. (Another sidenote: just realizing how much she has influenced this coffee dream! She's getting a drink named after her. Or a sandwich. Or both.) In SF, there are coffee shops everywhere. And they are all locally owned. I didn't see one Starbucks the entire time I was there. It was amazing.
- I love people. Seriously LOVE them. I could spend all day just chatting with people and sending them off smiling with a hot (or cold!) drink to accompany their day.
- I have always wanted to own my own business. I'm pretty good with numbers (I mean, I have an accounting degree...) Plus, I've always wanted the freedom to create my own schedule. Once the shop is up and running I suspect I'd still spend most of my time there, but maybe some of that would be in my own booth, storytelling with my customers or writing that novel I've always dreamed of.
I remember one day, not long after I started this blog, I woke up with a hundred ideas in my head about my someday-coffeeshop.
I wrote them all out.
What the name would be and how the sign outside would look.
What kind of ingredients I'd use and what I'd name the drinks.
Where I'd locally source food and supplies.
Where the local art wall would be.
What the interior design would look like, complete with a crudely drawn layout.
I even scouted some real estate.
I can't remember if someone told me or if I read it somewhere, but they said 'If you want to be something, you should introduce yourself that way. Make your dream a reality."
Shortly after waking up with a head full of ideas and a heart sold on a someday-entrepreneurship...I ordered my business cards.
A couple of months ago, one of my favorite local shops came up for sale.
I looked into it briefly. It was affordable, had a strong brand, clientele and a great location.
But I just didn't feel like it would work. Not then.
At Influence, I had the pleasure of attending the session of Barrett Ward, founder of The Mocha Club and fashionABLE.
His session was all about finding your purpose and your passion.
He said this:
Your passion refers to gifts from God.
Your purpose refers to things God has asked you to do.
We went through a series of questions to help determine what that would be.
Questions asking about what we enjoy to do, what we lose track of time doing, what things we value the most, what we are inspired by, what we could not live without.
Some themes emerged for me:
I'm a story-teller.
Whether I'm chatting with friends over coffee or writing a blog post...I'm telling a story.
I love people.
I like hearing how they became who they are. Who they want to become. I like talking to them about what moves them and what keeps them up at night. I like seeing them happy, thriving and balanced.
Story-teller + Lover of all people= Future Coffee Shop Owner
I don't know when I'll own a coffee shop.
The one opportunity I had came and went. (Sidenote- the local shop I was talking about was purchased by an amazing group of people and I frequent it often. You should too- Mars Cafe.)
I'm sure there will be others.
Or maybe my love of people and story-telling will somehow morph into something else down the line and my dream of coffee entrepreneurship will never come to fruition.
Like Barrett said, 'Don't get destination sickness on any road. The process of living out your passion and purpose is ever-evolving.'
So, in the meantime, I do know this.
My God-given calling and talent is clear.
I'm a story-teller.
I'm a lover of people.
AND I'm a writer.
Every single day, I have the ability to share my story and love people right here at Even Me.
Pull up a chair.
Grab a cup of coffee.
Let's share stories.
Have you discovered your passion and purpose?
How do you share it with others?