Brandy Sullivan - One World Cafe

Episode Thumbnail
00:00
00:00
This is a podcast episode titled, Brandy Sullivan - One World Cafe. The summary for this episode is: <p>On this episode of From the Basement Up, Michelle talks with One World Cafe Co-Founder, Owner and Operator, Brandy Sullivan. One World Cafe is a proud, locally owned, cafe whose mission shines beyond serving the best fair trade organic, roasted fresh coffee. Today, Brandy shares stories and reflects on her own experience as an entrepreneur in her community of Moscow, Idaho. </p><p><br></p><p>One World Cafe's focus began with the community in mind, and after 17 years that mindset has not shifted. Moscow is well known for maintaining a high percentage of locally owned businesses in their town, and after years of needing a coffee shop, Brandy and a few friends decided to make that dream a reality.</p><p><br></p><p>She emphasizes the importance of needing to create a comfortable environment, where others can collaborate and either start or end their days. OWC is a place where people can relax, build relationships and enjoy the artwork, concerts, or quiet in their own home away from home.</p>

Michelle: (silence). Hello, everyone, welcome today to From The Basement Up. And our special guest today is Brandy Sullivan. And, Brandy, actually she's had multiple careers, but the reason she's here today is to talk to us about One World Cafe. And if you've the visited Moscow, Idaho, sometime in the last 17 years, you've definitely stopped into One World Cafe for a cup of coffee. In the age of Starbucks, this is a big deal, because this independent coffee store happened to keep Starbucks out of the neighborhood. And I don't know many towns that were able to do that. Brandy actually and her family and business partners, they've actually created this amazing hotspot, a great place for... It's like a refuge for family and friends, artists, music lovers, they have bands playing there and students. When the coffee shop began, Brandy already had a full plate. She's a mom of two kids, a wife to a University of Idaho professor and a speech therapist. And she was driving to a hospital to work with stroke patients a full town away. So she obviously had a lot going on. So I've always thought it was curious why. You have this full plate, so much happening, what was the why. And that why is such a great story. And I've always loved that story, the why did One World Cafe start. So I'm very excited to introduce Brandy to you all here. And Brandy, please, if you don't mind, just share the vision of the coffee store and how it happened. And you created a safe and happy place for the Moscow community.

Brandy Sullivan: Thanks, Michelle. And hello, and hello, Emily. The origins of One World Cafe, it's interesting. It happened over a dinner with several couples many years ago and a little bit of wine with the dinner. And as happens, we all start talking about what we wish we had in Moscow. And we all agreed we need a coffee shop that would have live music. At the time, we had very young own kids that we could bring our kids and it wouldn't feel like we're disrupting other people that had beer and wine that was open seven days a week where it would just serve professors, as you mentioned, my husband's a professor, families, students, local townspeople of blue collar, white collar, just a place for everyone. And so it was this daydreaming during this dinner. And that came back a couple months later as a real possibility. And then we all had to say," Oh, well, we want someone else to make that happen, but maybe it has to be us." So that's how it started.

Michelle: So I'm just curious how many bottles of wine into the conversation did that start?

Brandy Sullivan: We might have lost count. I'm not sure, but I can tell that there were four couples. And it was a couple months later when one of them called and said," Hey, this wonderful location right downtown on the corner of Maine and Sixth Street, and Sixth Street leads to the University of Idaho, is going to be available and that would be the perfect place for coffee shop." So then it became a little real. And those original four couples had just a meeting to say," Okay, is this something we think we could somehow pull off?" And started with a cooperative type of an idea, but really basically none of us know how to do this, none of us are business owners, didn't know anything about running a coffee shop. So we assigned, okay, you learn about what equipment we need to set up and what that cost would be, you find out some of the legal requirements, you find out how we get staff and we'll meet up again next month and go from there. So by the time, a few meetings and it was down to just two couples.

Michelle: So it's almost like you willed this to happen. You had your get together. And I don't know if the space magically appears within two months. So you just put the energy out there in the universe and then it just came back and you suddenly had this big opportunity. So I'm curious, can you explain Moscow, Idaho to everyone, because it really is a great community?

Brandy Sullivan: Sure, yes. The population of Moscow is about 25,000 and that does include the students at the University of Idaho. So it is considered for sure a college town. It's in a region called the Palouse, which is agricultural, a lot of rolling hills. Many people think of potatoes when they hear Idaho, but that's in Southern Idaho, which is very, very far away. This part of Idaho is more wheat and legumes like lentils and split peas and canola. So these beautiful rolling hills of golden and green depending on the season and the downtown itself. Actually Moscow is referred to as the heart of the arts. So it's a very creative community full of artists and musicians of all ages. There's a lot of appreciation community for that. There's a surprising number of things going on for a city of that size. And I think that's because of the university and bringing people in of all kinds of talents. And we have a wonderful historic single screen movie theater right on Main Street. All of our businesses on Main Street are locally owned. There are no chains. Well, the exception of some financial institutions on some of... So that makes Main Street have a very unique feel, all these historic buildings with locally owned businesses, all of which are very unique.

Michelle: So it makes it feel like it was years decades ago. So it's not lost in time, because it's progressive, but you get that feeling of the small town. Definitely, you do. So as far as One World becoming that hub for the community, how long did that take to happen? Was that something that happened right away or did it take a little bit of time?

Brandy Sullivan: Surprisingly, it was pretty quick. So yeah, I think we weren't the only ones that were pining for a place like that, that really would be comfortable and welcoming for everybody, regardless of your background or your age. If you were affiliated with the university or not that you could walk to, bike to pretty quickly. We had great clientele regulars from day one that we opened. And then we still constantly are having new people come in that are new to the community. It's funny about maybe only five years after we were open, some people who maybe had come to the university since we had opened, just couldn't even believe that it had ever been something else. In their minds, it had just been there forever, even though we felt like we're this brand new business.

Michelle: And how long did it take you to, I guess, build this out in the beginning side of this? So when you had your other partners and you were a speech therapist by trade, you were not an entrepreneur. So this is a whole new set of skills or maybe not set of skills, a whole new adventure for you, how did you go about dividing the labor up, dividing who's going to be doing this? Was that hard for you all?

Brandy Sullivan: Well, I feel like it was two projects. There was the before opening and the once we're opened. And there were two different things. So the leading up to it, it's we did not and we still do not own the building. But it looks very different now than it did before. It had been a flower shop for decades, white pegboard on all the walls and low drop ceilings with fluorescent lights and a thin carpet. And what we did layer by layer was reveal the original building underneath not really knowing what we were going to find. So that turned into a very long process, many months of getting the space to be ready for our vision. It also had... Let's see. Well, I'll back up. So as we took off pegboard, then there was another layer and you jackhammer through that concrete and there's beautiful old brick underneath.

Michelle: Nice.

Brandy Sullivan: So the more we peeled away, the cooler the building became. And I think it's like that with a lot of historic buildings. We go through our society the way things happen, what we was trendy in the 40s or the 50s or the 70s, and then now it's like, well, it was really pretty great when it was first built.

Michelle: And we covered up with the trend of the day.

Brandy Sullivan: Right. And taking down a drop ceiling and then finding another drop ceiling and taking that one down. And then there are these really cool beams that expose beams. And we just left it that way. Also, there was a small second floor area that didn't span across the whole building that the building owners had just as their personal office upstairs. So it was not open to customers. It was just totally dry- walled in. You wouldn't even really notice it was there. And we wanted to open that up and have a mezzanine with railings. And that would open and look at the downstairs. What that required, however, was structural changes to support that to be weightbearing. So that involved getting a structural engineer. We had an architect working with us and creating different cool spaces downstairs, which are now part of what makes it work for so many different purposes, having all these different areas and size rooms and nooks and things like that. So that time leading up to before we opened for me personally, it was remodeling and construction and painting and going in at night after the kids went to bed and having this project, which was pretty fun. The fun things about picking out colors and sanding and doing all of that. And that division of labor just seemed to work out pretty well. There were two couples and in each couple, there was one person that was the more active one and the other one that said," Okay, I support you, but I'm full with my job. So I can't really help, but I'm all in if you want to do this." So there were one of us of each couple and we would both be in there at night doing things or sometimes he would be there in the day and I would be there at night.

Michelle: That's great. That's a lot. That's definitely dedication, especially how old were your two kids at the time?

Brandy Sullivan: They were three and five.

Michelle: Wow.

Emily: Oh my gosh!

Michelle: That's quite a lot. You have a lot of energy. I do know that you were also a very active individual. Were you running marathons at that time?

Brandy Sullivan: Let's see. We opened in 2005 and I think my first marathon was either in 2005 or 2006, which gosh, you remind me of that. I don't know how I did it all. But anyways, I guess there's just times in your life where you get enthusiastic and excited about something and it gives you a lot of energy and it's rewarding and that's what keeps you going.

Emily: Definitely. And sometimes the universe is rewarding you right back. The fact that everything is working out perfectly, it's like, yeah, everything is going to continue to work out perfectly.

Brandy Sullivan: Right. And actually now, that you say that, Emily, here's another great example of that, because at one point in this process, we had decided we need a third partner who actually does know how to run a coffee shop, who has experience. And we would be the investors, but we don't know how to do this. And so we had found someone who had many coffee shops in a neighboring state and she was going to be the managing partner and really do the hiring, the training, figure out what equipment we need, all of that. And pretty far into discussions with her, she got cold feet that she was a little concerned about liability, because it was in a different state and her attorney got her a little nervous about if something happened it would affect her other places. So she ended up backing out. And my first reaction was, well, we can't do it without her. So it was a fun idea and it would've been really great, but we can't pull this off without her.

Michelle: What made you turn it around to get back into it?

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah, well, so we contacted the building owner and told him. And he said," Well, we really love your vision. We want it to be this coffee shop for the community." So I contacted them to say," You should list it again and try to find a renter." And they're like," No, can't you put an ad in the paper? Keep trying. Try to find a different partner." So that was part of it is that the building owners were so enthusiastic about having us there, that they weren't going to let us fold in the towel very easily. We hadn't signed anything, but I think it was encouraging that they just wanted it so much. We're like," Okay, well, I guess it's not just about us, this will really be a great thing for the community." So we did put an ad. We interviewed some other people who owned coffee shops. And for one reason or another either financially or just personality wise, it wasn't going to work. And one day, Stephan, who was the father of the other couple called and said," All right, Nicole had our baby yesterday. And every time we've had a baby, we've made a major decision. So I think we should just go for it." And I said," Well, okay, how can I say no?" I was like," All right." That was it. That was when we just decided, okay, we're all in now.

Emily: That's awesome.

Michelle: Okay. That's a great story. That is so great. Well, I'm also thinking, so the building owner, did they help you out with some of the cost of the remodeling too?

Brandy Sullivan: Yes, stepping up the rent in the beginning. Not paying any rent until we were open. And then it was a percentage for the first... I don't recall offhand, but maybe three months or six months. And it gradually worked up to the full rent, but there were also things like there was no bathroom on the ground level. There was just a bathroom in what had been their employee back office upstairs. And we needed to obviously have a bathroom on the ground floor. But that's really an improvement to the building. It's not something we would take with us. So we have a great relationship with them, but for many things like that, we split the cost or worked it into agreements about reduced rent until that cost was paid for. And that's one of the things that I really did learn, if you're going into open your own business and it's not your building, it is worth really thinking through some different ideas and negotiating with the building owner for any improvements that stay with the building.

Michelle: That's a great point. Thank you.

Emily: Great advice too.

Michelle: Absolutely. As far as a startup, because I had so many blunders and missteps in the early days, do you have one that just stands out in your mind that you're comfortable sharing?

Brandy Sullivan: I'm going to give you two, but they're brief. So one was just not being realistic, just having a little too much optimism or faith that something will work out. So it's tricky, because if you wait until you know everything is going to work, you're never going to go. But then you also have to have some realistic projections and plans. So we started out a little too idealistic with organic milk from our local co- op for all of our drinks. And it took us longer than it should have to realize that's not sustainable, that what we would have to charge for those drinks doesn't work in our community. That's just one of those things we would love to be able to do it, but we just have to give on some things. Do buy locally when we can and source certain types of products and in ingredients. But when milk was such a big part of our cost of goods and we were paying such a high price, what we would have to charge just couldn't happen.

Michelle: That's a great tip, because you have these things, these goals that you want to source from the community or source locally and it's not sustainable. So thank you for sharing that one. I do appreciate it.

Emily: It might even turn out to be even though your community wants the sustainable and locally source milk, they would rather go buy the cheaper coffee because at the end of the day, they're having to pay more just because they want to help out in the same way that you're wanting to help out. So that's a really great piece of advice and it's just more realistic.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. And we've learned to find other ways to pay more for something that's just not quite as big of a chunk of our cost of goods.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely. So, Brandy, as far as you were saying that you had a second one, what was the other second one?

Brandy Sullivan: Well, okay. The second one was that also, as you mentioned in my intro, all four of us, original owners had other jobs. Without this managing partner, we had to go out and find someone who's going to run the place. And by this point, after all the renovations, we're just trying to find somebody. We do ads, we hired a day manager and a night manager, neither of whom we knew. They were both very young and enthusiastic and it was a great opportunity for them. But at that stage we didn't have the knowledge to be overseeing them and they were also still learning themselves. So it was a little bit of flying by the seat of your pants. And especially with the night person was just left to her own devices to figure things out. And I think that was also something that in hindsight, once we started to gradually learn the business, we actually realized we don't need a separate night manager. We've just structured this run from the beginning.

Michelle: So do you feel that you were over- staffing or staffing too high end or?

Brandy Sullivan: I think that we did not clearly define because we didn't know what's the difference between the day manager and the night manager. So obviously, they didn't know either. And probably what I would say to most people who are starting a business would not be in that position, just know your business. So that's where it's remarkable that we have succeeded because we really did go into it without any experience in this business.

Michelle: However, I do feel that One World Cafe has a secret sauce. It really does. And I'd want you to talk about that and what it is for the feeling that you get when you're there.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. And I think despite the fact that we didn't have the business experience, we found great people to work there. And in any type of a service business, your customers are interacting with your employees. Your employees need to be happy or they're not going to interact well, interact with your customers that they have that experience, that met our vision and our goal of everyone feeling comfortable and welcome and not intimidated. And there's a lot of jokes about coffee shops and someone being asked if they want all these several different things and they don't know what they are and they feel intimidated. And so making people feel comfortable. What we did right from the beginning was finding people who were friendly, who were helpful, who really wanted to connect with people, want to make their day better. That I would say is one of the secrets is having happy staff that actually likes interacting with people. And the other is having the atmosphere in the environment that is, I'm repeating myself a bit, but comfortable for everyone, whether you're coming to study by yourself and you need quiet. And that's what we created with a lot of these different nooks and comfy chairs. And we have big conference tables if you're coming as a group of students study together around a big table. If you're coming for a business meeting, someone from out of town who you're hosting and you bring them there for lunch or a coffee in the morning or a beer at night, a couple coming for coffee before they go off to work. My husband used to come with our kids in the morning before they went to school. They would stop in and have a hot chocolate. He would play chess with my son and then bring him to school. We have a couple teachers at the school who come in every day before they go to school, some with their kids. So I think international students at the University of Idaho who come to Moscow, Idaho, which is, Idaho is not the most diverse state at all, and feeling very far away from home in this foreign country and not seeing a lot of diversity around them and coming into there and instantly feeling-

Michelle: At home.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah, at home and safe and people are friendly. And there was a wonderful story that someone wrote about getting a winning a$ 10 raffle thing. She was an international student at the time for a gift card at One World. And she had been really struggling and she went in there with that gift card. And from day on, she had found her place and came there and worked every day and a real part of her whole positive experience about being in America.

Michelle: That's great. That is fantastic. So I've looked at pictures, looked on your website, looked on Facebook and it looks like you have created something where it's definitely part of a routine, like you were saying people on their way to work. I love that your husband and son were playing chess in the morning. That's so darling. But I saw some pictures. Were there music recitals in there? I saw bands playing, but it looked like students with a teacher.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. So there's all kinds of different music events that we have. We have bands that are traveling through, but with the university. We have student groups that want to play. The Lionel Hampton School of Music is at the University of Idaho. So we have some jazz ensembles that will play. But I think the one picture you're talking about that was probably a lot of high school kids.

Michelle: They were young kids. Yes.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. And that was, I think with Simba who he's just full of energy and likes getting young people together and having a stage full of them. One of the things we did not anticipate, I think probably because at that time, our kids were so young and we weren't even imagining what it would be like to have high schoolers, but it very quickly became a place for high schoolers to hang out also. And sometimes with their parents and their parents' friends, which there was never anything like that when I was a kid. But music, coming to that music, sometimes it would be the high schoolers playing and their parents and all their friends come. And, of course, their contemporary, their other high school friends. Or the other way around, the parents are playing and their kids come and all their friends. So to see these high schoolers at night having a place to hang out where they might even see their parents or their parents' friends. And they're not having to duck away and hide. They actually can enjoy being enjoying music in the same place at the same time.

Michelle: Nice. Well, I think it's great the way you have it set up too. There's different areas for people. So they don't really have to be in the same room. They can be up above or in a different nook where they're watching with their friends.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah, it's funny. A lot of times the kids will be downstairs dancing and the kids are upstairs looking over the...

Michelle: How fun! So how far in advance does it book out?

Brandy Sullivan: Sometimes two or three months, I would say. And we have an email specifically on our website for musicians, just a link if you're interested in playing here. And we've found that we don't really have to spend time searching for musicians, we get emails. And sometimes it's from some national act touring through and that is not something that we can financially do. We're like, okay, well, we're of just a small shop. So I don't think that what we can pay you is going to work out. We have a lot of the local musicians and even running into people. Moscow's a small town. They'll say," Oh, hey," stop me on the street," We'd love to play at One World sometime." And I'll just say," Oh yeah, just-

Michelle: Sign up.

Brandy Sullivan: ...email that and we'll get you on the schedule.

Michelle: I love it. So as far as artists too, I've noticed that there's a lot of art installations and it looks like you've got artists contributing to your store as well.

Brandy Sullivan: Oh yes. There's a couple things going on in Moscow. We have art walk that's once a month. And so sometimes we'll have someone ask to be featured and they will be our art of the month, but we do have rotating artwork. Again, sometimes it's just similar to music. An artist just contacted me a couple weeks ago saying she was new to town and she has these ink and water color botanical prints and they're beautiful. And so I just said," Well, come down and look around and see what space you need and see if we can work it out." And her stuff is up and it just looks great. And so we like to have things changing and giving people, especially those starting out as opposed to a gallery, which can be pretty competitive to get into just getting their work out there and known and seen and they can sell it or not. Then that's just up to the artists, what they'd like to do.

Michelle: I'm sure they appreciate that. Absolutely. So as your kids grow older, I'm assuming that... Was that their job in high school to come down and help at the coffee shop?

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. It's funny with both of them. When they were, I don't remember maybe 15 or something, they each had school trips that they wanted to do that were international trips. So the way that we worked out having them contribute to that was working towards it at One World. They weren't hired as employees, but they would clock in and clock out and do dishes and some of those, the behind the scenes things. And that was how they were earning to contribute towards the trip. And then by the time they got back from their trip, it's like, okay, well. And we stayed out of it, but it was the business partner saying," I'd like to offer you a job now and then teach them how to be baristas." And so in high school they were actually regular paid employees, just like everyone else.

Emily: Just about the why, and obviously I've never been to Moscow, I've never even been to Idaho, now I'm dying to go. And I just keep thinking about the quote or the analogy about how hard it is to get a group of 10 people to agree on a type of pizza. And here you are, you got a whole town to agree to one coffee shop that in some way or another provides for every single person who's there.

Michelle: Made it happen.

Emily: Yeah. Artists, students, families. You can go on and on. It's awesome.

Michelle: So you've been in business for 17 years. That's huge. It's scary. I don't mean to throw that out there, but you've watched it. Do you feel like it's a child that you've watched grow as well and evolve?

Brandy Sullivan: Very often. Still one of us will turn to the other, my husband and be like," Can you believe that we started this and this is our business, because we just love it?" And we love to be there. And you see people with our T- shirts and you don't know them. And sometimes when you're traveling, you do, or there's an article in the paper that's not about One World, that's about some really interesting or some cool project that's going on. And the picture is at One World. And just all these things, it just gives you definitely a big sense of pride in being grateful that we could create this and that. So many people are utilizing it and benefiting from it and enjoying it.

Michelle: It's just so cool that you had this vision. And that was a tremendous amount of work to make this happen. And that every year, you learn what you need to learn and you bring it to the next level. And I know that recently you ended up expanding One World. And I actually wanted to ask you about that, because this was a different thing entirely. You turned half of it into a pub and expanded. So that must have been a little scary though at the same time.

Brandy Sullivan: Yes. And that was one of those timing things too. There was an adjacent business, however, the building was all the same owner. So they had us as tenants on one side and other tenants. And that other side turned over many times. Just every couple years it would be something else. And each time we had wanted to expand into that, however, they were still in the lease and we're subleasing. So we hadn't had the opportunity. When we did have the opportunity, it was right in the very early stages of the COVID, which would be the one time that we would say we don't want to expand. We also realized this is the chance that we've been wanting. And I think met many businesses through this have had to make a decision. Do they take a chance? And can you, knowing it's going to be rough for a while, but in the long run it will pay off? Or for many businesses it just is not an option or it's just not worth the uncertainty. So we ultimately decided, yeah, this is our opportunity, but we did like learning from the beginning, not owning the building and going into a lease, we worked with the building owners to have a one year escape clause, which we did in the very beginning also, which I also very much recommend. If you're signing a five year lease, a brand new business, that one year escape clause so that if it's just not going to turn out the way you wanted, you're not stuck with a five year.

Michelle: That's a great tip.

Brandy Sullivan: And we also again had the rent step up from the first three months, second three months, each three months until it's not until after year one, that it was at the full rent. And the reason for that, and they understood was because of COVID. There's just so much. We can't even seat full capacity and we don't know what's going to happen.

Michelle: How many? Did you double your footprint? I'm just curious because it...

Brandy Sullivan: We didn't double it. The original space was about 2, 800 square feet and we added about 1800. But the addition also had a commercial kitchen in it, which we did not have with the original coffee shop. So that was the other thing that was really new. And in a way it just felt like starting a new business all over again, figuring out what did you do with the commercial kitchen different.

Michelle: So how much of your product that you have in both the pub that sells food, beer, and wine, and then you've got your coffee shop? How much of that is local vendors that you're working with?

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. So now, all of our lunch menu, we just do ourselves now that we have the kitchen. We couldn't do that before. Our lunch menu was just very limited to what we could do in a tiny little space, like with a toaster and a toaster oven at first. But now we have a full lunch menu that's just all ours. About half of our baked goods, we bake ourselves and the other half we get from a locally owned bakery, actually family owned. We sell there it's called Goose House Bakery.

Michelle: Nice.

Brandy Sullivan: And many of our honey that we get is local honey Woodland APIs. Our coffee is locally roasted. That's Landgrove Coffee.

Michelle: I do have a question as far as I noticed there's a picture that we're going to be putting on the show notes and it's from the outside. And I think this happened during COVID you were approached by the architecture department at the University of Idaho. And I would love to hear have you share that story, because it looks amazing?

Brandy Sullivan: Thanks. Yeah. So this was just an email out of the blue, one of those ones that you might sometimes not even respond to because you're busy. But it was a professor from the architecture department saying his design build class likes to work in the community and on a project that would help a business or a school, they've done many different projects. And he'd noticed that we were expanding and did we want to partner? We had always along one whole side of the building wanted to improve that. It's a south facing really long wall that was covered in aggregate rock. It just looked terrible. The building owners didn't like it either, but they had looked into doing something about it and it was so cost prohibitive that we just had to live with it. It also had no shade. And here in Moscow, Idaho, it gets very hot in the summer. It's dry, but it is hot. While this whole block worth of space could have outdoor seating, once it gets hot, no one would sit out there, no shade. With COVID, as you all know, that outdoor dining became more attractive and really necessary for many businesses to keep going. So we said, how about could they come up with some design for our outside? One, it just looks terrible, and two, the shade issue. We don't know what it would be, but something so that we could actually utilize seeing out here. And these students, they were incredible. They met with us to hear our wish list, what our barriers were. They came back to us with built models and PowerPoints of two different ideas that they had. We wanted things to be able to be very easy for our staff to close up or to take down at night. And it just went back and forth. We'd give them some feedback. They'd come back again. And they designed this amazing improvement to the whole exterior that went to the city council for approval, because it was really very creative and unique. And there's been nothing like that downtown, but it has allowed us to have outdoor seating along that whole side, kind of a bar area and many tables and these partitions that close at night and artwork inside. And it's just pretty and vibrant and fun.

Michelle: Do you find that the students really like that area?

Brandy Sullivan: Yes.

Michelle: Okay.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. Everybody does though. It's fun. Early in the morning, you get your people of all ages that there are people who are not ready to be inside, still with COVID and they come and they sit out at these tables in the morning sun and with their paper and-

Emily: That's fantastic. Well, we're going to have to get a picture up on our show notes so that people can see for themselves.

Michelle: Definitely. And this is something I want to recommend to all the listeners. Many years ago, I worked with a local college here and they actually helped me with some different cost and sorting things out. And it's something to think about with any business if you have a college nearby, because they are looking for projects for their students to learn. So it's definitely something that you might want to seek out if they're not reaching out to you. But, Brandy, it's beautiful. The picture that you sent over, it was amazing.

Brandy Sullivan: Thanks. And I'm talking about all these ways it benefited us, but this was their project. They were so excited about it. They would come every morning. Once they had designed the whole thing, then they actually built it in their studios and installed it. And they were just out there every day and painting and putting it up and just... That was a class for them and they were having so much fun and they were out there in the community, they were at our business. We gave them all sweatshirts at the end. Forever now it's in their portfolios and they can say it to mom and dad and whoever, yeah, this was the project that we did.

Michelle: So, Brandy, as far as you have a university there, does it affect the seasonality of your business at all? And I'm just curious, where did you find some revenue streams that you were not expecting?

Brandy Sullivan: Yes, it definitely does affect business. When we have such a large amount of our population as students in the summer and over a winter break, college breaks, we have learned that we need to adjust our staffing and even our hours a little bit. This last summer was different. And I don't know if it's because we had all that outdoor seating or just because with COVID, people were so happy to be able to be outside and go out and see people. But we did not slow down over the summer. We also had our expansions. So something new.

Michelle: So I was just curious if it was seasonal, but it sounds like COVID may have changed things for you. And then where did you see these opportunities that you may have not thought of before? I know at one time you were thinking of popup shops on the university and did that help? And just some ideas that you've been there for 17 years, some of those, I guess, lemons and lemonade type of things.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. I think one of the things that has been really fun and rewarding and I think has helped our revenue is participating with, sponsoring, partnering with different events going on downtown and in the community, sponsoring films at the theater, different fundraisers that are happening around town, donating food or coffee. And because with many of those, the different nonprofits and businesses just really try to prop each other up and the people that are going to those fundraisers and supporting that and they see that One World was a sponsor and they come in and say," Oh yeah, I had never been in here before, but then I went to such and such fundraiser and thank you for are partnering with them on that." And so that's been something that it's just rewarding to... That's one of the perks, when you have your own business, you can decide-

Michelle: Where you want to donate. That's true.

Brandy Sullivan: Right. Yeah. And you can do it in ways that are really difficult as an individual. As an individual person, I'm not going to say I could bake you some cookies, how would that be? But when they have an event and you can deliver pots and pots of coffee for that.

Michelle: Nice, definitely. That is a huge thing. And you guys really are a Keystone there. You are the people that I think probably come to mind first for everybody. I do have a question. You recently made a big change in your life where I don't believe you're doing speech therapy anymore. Am I correct with that?

Brandy Sullivan: I'm filling in for people, but yeah, for the most part, yes, I have stepped down from that and I'm just going to help out when someone needs a vacation or if it's busy. So I'm an on- call person now.

Michelle: So you're able to be more involved with the coffee shop then?

Brandy Sullivan: Yes.

Michelle: Good. How is that going?

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. It's going great. And with the expansion, I was putting more and more time into the coffee shop than I ever had before and with the kitchen. And just I had lots of ideas and getting very enthusiastic and not having the time to follow through on all of them. So it was a perfect time to have this in a way.

Michelle: Retirement?

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah. Right. Just move everything a little more into one basket as far as where my energy is going. And it's nice to be able to just be fully present there and not always feeling like I'm having to cut things short and rush off to be somewhere else.

Michelle: Yeah. I was laughing when I mean retirement, because now you're only working your one job, not your second job. But as far as, have you ever been asked to sell the business? And would you ever?

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah, we did have... It was several years ago, a chain contacted us and gave us a really good offer. And it was interesting. We thought about a little bit, but not for very long. One thing, especially we really value the fact that our downtown has these locally owned businesses and that's part of what makes it so unique. There's not many of those anymore. And we're on a very prominent corner and we're like," Oh my gosh! We can't sell out and be the first domino to fall right after everything we've done." I'd feel like we would have to slink away.

Michelle: And I understand that you're not done yet. You're still creating. That makes sense. But have you thought about the succession plan? Have you thought about the next steps? And are you-

Brandy Sullivan: I think our partner is quite a bit younger than me. So if anything, I think when my husband and I are ready to pass that baton, it will be a matter of if she wants to be full owner or if she wants another partner. But my suspicion is she will be going for probably a long time.

Emily: For a while. Sounds like another collaborative decision when the time comes.

Brandy Sullivan: Right.

Emily: That's awesome.

Brandy Sullivan: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I think that's one of the things I've learned too is I'm just not interested in planning things out because things just change in ways you could never predict. And when the time comes, if you're ready to do something different, then you will know it.

Michelle: I think COVID knock that into all of us. Definitely. And I just wanted to wind up our conversation with just some of the core values or the things that you feel that you can see that you've got music there, you've got art, you've got families making it part of their routine, you have recitals have happening there. Just your mission was accomplished. I guess that's what I want to say. And congratulations for making such a wonderful place in your community.

Brandy Sullivan: Thank you. Thanks. I have to say too that I think in the beginning, when we were all sitting around the table, it was selfish. We wanted this place for ourselves. And then you create something that is such a part of the community that is for so many people, it does really feel great.

Emily: Yeah. It seems like you've done a good job there too.

Michelle: Absolutely. So, Brandy, thank you so much for taking your time today. And I know that you actually came and left your lunch break to help us and to talk to us at From The Basement Up and we do appreciate it. So thank you.

Brandy Sullivan: You're welcome. All right.

Michelle: Thank you.

Emily: Nice to meet you. Bye.

Brandy Sullivan: You too. Bye.

DESCRIPTION

One World Café came to life out of a spout of happy accidents. Now a staple in the town of Moscow, Idaho, this coffee shop is the David in a sea of Goliaths. It’s had so much success in its hometown that even Starbucks couldn't compete. But, how did co-Founder Brandy do it?


It turns out she did it by following her gut and continuing on, even when the road seemed to be coming to a stop. This is the story From the Basement Up brings you today. Once again, we see that you don’t need a business degree to start a business, just a great idea and a lot of gumption. 


We learn that after a close-knit group of Moscow natives got together (paired with a few bottles of wine), they decided that it was time someone realized their dream of having a place to come together in town; why not them!? Between juggling family and friends and a successful career in speech pathology, Brandy gave running a business a go. 


The business, it turned out, was something that many others apparently desired as well. It took off. Within just a short time, One World Cafe expanded the space they occupied by nearly double. This is a story of seeing something and going for it, but of course, this dream doesn’t come without some bumps. 


Join Brandy and Michelle as they discuss the joy that comes with following your gut, never coming to a full stop, and rolling with the punches as they come. Thanks for tuning in!



Today's Host

Guest Thumbnail

Michelle Brandriss

|Founder of Name Bubbles
Guest Thumbnail

Emily Flanagan

|Producer

Today's Guests

Guest Thumbnail

Brandy Sulivan

|Co-Founder
https://www.namebubbles.com/blogs/podcast