Cup of Joe with Veteran and Military Spouse Business Owners
Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. for a cup of Joe with veterans and military spouse business owners. To get us started, I'd like to introduce Tim. Green. Tim is the deputy associate. administrator at the Office of Veterans Business Development. at the Small Business Administration. Tim.
Welcome. Thank you, Laura. It's really my honor to kick off today's. event. Again. My name is Tim Green. I'm. the deputy here at the Office of Veterans Business Development. and I do have a, I have about a 28 year career in.
the United States Air Force. So very proud of that and now I've been at the federal government for the last few years. At SBA, We're really proud to host. this event and the timing is really perfect as. we close out November.
November, as Many of you know is National Veterans and Military Families Month where we celebrate veterans. and accomplishments there. In our office, we also have National Veterans Small Business Week which is the first week of November that we hosted many events and very successful week long National Veterans Small Business Week as well.
So I'm not gonna spend long. I just wanna, as we, as we look and you listen today to the outstanding. panelists that we have, I want you to take away a couple things. and one of those is entrepreneurship really is a team sport. I heard that from. one of our staff and we at SBA have a vast network of resources. to help you start and grow your small businesses. So
listen to some of the resources that these entrepreneurs. have used. And see how they could fit into your game plan as well. The other resource I wanna highlight is more specific. to our office that we manage. Is
the veteran business outreach centers. They're really your one. stop shop for training, counseling, referrals. They can connect you to the district offices.
women business centers, small business development centers. score mentors and a host of other resources. So keep those in the back of your mind as you hear the great stories. From their panelists today and please enjoy the. roundtable discussion. Get your Joe ready. I got my coffee ready and with that said, I'll turn it over to the moderator, Laura Wages.
And thank you for attending today's round table. Thank you, Tim, for kicking off our event today. As Tim mentioned, we do have some great panelists that you will get to meet. throughout our afternoon and we. picked businesses for a very specific reason. We picked a
business that has just recently started. We picked one that's been. in business for a couple years and then we picked one that's been in. business for a few more years and is ready to grow and.
so we're very excited about having them and we're going to introduce you. to them individually. They're going to talk a little bit about their. journey, about what motivated them to start a business. And some of the lessons they've learned along the way. So the first group of panelists that I would like to introduce Are, Steph and Bryce Wine. They are.
the owners of pin up coffee. It is located. in Norfolk, VA. Welcome. Hi, thank you. And so we'd love to. hear about your journey. We'd love to hear about how you got started. Steph, we know that you are still in the Navy and we know.
that, Bryce, you recently left. the Navy, so you are now a Navy veteran, but we'd love to hear about your. journey and what made you decide to become entrepreneurs. Well, I wanted to do this since I was 15 years old.
Of course, tasted my first sugary Starbucks. Frappuccino. And of course, that's nothing like the coffee we. do now. But ever since I had that zip, I had this dream and oddly. enough, with the same name. Pin up coffee so. I, like you said, I'm still in the Navy. I have about six months left, but. I was on deployment a couple years ago and just thinking about what I wanted to do afterwards and I kind of had this tucked away for a long.
long time. And talk to him and said, hey, how would you feel about doing this and? he said let's do it. So the original idea was this was going to. be my job. It is now turned into both. of our jobs and other people's jobs, which is awesome.
But I started by, we built out a little. little roastery in, at home little. 1 kilogram roaster and so we were cottage law. operations. So that means that we could only do local sales.
We could only do in person, farmers markets and. that just. Just boomed and it got to the point where I was roasting 14. hours every Sunday and every spare chance I had during the week and.
we were packaging late into the night and it was just. it was awesome. So but we did run it into the. bottleneck of. Just not having the time really, especially with still being active duty.
So that started last year actually in October. of 21 is kind of when we got everything going there and then we. have recently expanded to our roasting shop here which is over in Virginia. Beach right next to Oceana and you can see our. 12 kilogram machine in the back and now we have an online. store and some of our favorite stuff is, just, is being.
involved in the community and really embracing the love of craft. everything things that are made locally, craft beer, craft coffee. and just the. The community and how it brings. People together is something that really drives me. That's great. I understand that you took the Boots to.
Business course and that is a course that is offered. to transitioning service members. Can you tell me what your biggest take away was from that? I'll take that one, since I, I'm the one who actually took the. course. I say the biggest thing that I took from Boots to Business was that there's just. just ample resources out there and all you.
have to do is reach out and ask for help. which is kind of a it. It's pervasive. in the small business and startup business. kind of world like there are just resources everywhere. All you have to do is put your pride aside and ask for ask for help ask. for the resources and everyone's more than willing to help.
That's great. Were there other resources that you used once you attended foods to business? Yeah. Let me take that. Yeah. So, um, I love. the VBOC. That is one of my favorite resources to.
use. Um, there's just so much networking. that can be done at any question you have, like Bruce was talking about. you really have to just ask questions. Like we come from this place where we're used to being so self sufficient, and mission driven and just busy busy, get the job done but kind to kind of transition into. I wonder about this. Let me ask Don at the VBOC. Let me. ask whoever and so the networking through the VBOC is.
fantastic. I had a score mentor as well. And that was awesome for like financial. documents and projections and all of the not. as fun stuff that you have to do as a business owner. Um, score is fantastic for that and then the. industry. The industry is huge as I love being involved in.
the industry. So for me that's the Specialty Coffee Association and. the Coffee Roasters Guild. And that's for a lot more. than just education. I mean, you can at this point I have. other coffee roasters all around the country that I can just shoot an.
e-mail and. Just being involved in using those resources in your. same industry or close close. industries? Parallel industries. That's great. So knowing what you know
now, what would you do differently? Probably, it would probably be the. My answer to that would be around hiring and the timing of hiring. because we. We held out as long as we possibly could before. hiring someone. It went from. Like Steph said, it went from.
She was doing the work and then she needed help and. then we were doing it. Yeah, we were, we were doing the work together and then we looked. at each other. What? Wait. Now we need help. And we waited a. little bit too long to where the we were really just taxing. ourselves. And like she said, we were just really.
really working, working the ground so pretty hard and. picking up an employee earlier would have taken. a lot off of both of our plates in the way of. Allowing us to expand in the ways that we wanted to rather. than focusing on like the little things.
But now that we have hired, we're, we're able to do that. So hopefully. we can help somebody through this webinar with that. Yeah, and. it's I mean you wanna be financially responsible and not hire someone. until you really need to. But then you have to remember and. it hit me hard that you have to have the time to train them. And so if you wait too long, you.
don't really have time to train them. So it just keeps. your days super long. And.
So we bootstrapped everything for the business. until we got here to our bigger. roastery. So one of the things that I maybe would have done differently.
is look into financing earlier rather than. later because we weren't even, I mean. Necessarily thinking about it in the early stages. But like starting to build business. credit as soon as entirely possible, no matter.
how great your credit is. You know, like. Be prepared and be prepared earlier than than you need. need it. I think that was that was a big thing for me. Mhmm. Yeah.
Thank you. I know that for a lot. of veterans the name Pin Up resonates with them. But why did you pick that name? So originally, and we still kind of worked. this in, UM, when I was 15 years old. That. was a long time ago now. That was kind of when tattoos.
were starting to become more normal, and I just loved the American. traditional pin up girl style, um. Tattoos and I just had envisioned this brand right. And then I joined the Navy. UM and I'm an air crewman. and we were both air crewman, so we fly. and was able to tie that with aircraft.
aircraft, nose art. So actually all of. our coffee blends are named after pin up art on actual. World War Two bombers. So that's why the kind. of have funky names, slightly dangerous, tailwind, those are all.
actual pin up art and for. me it kind of resonates. In the, um. Just the vibrance of that era. Granted, World War Two was not. the happiest time for everyone, but what people looked forward. to was the happiness and the freedom that was back home.
So we're kind of equate that to coffee, too. We've got the good. stuff waiting at home. Yeah, that seems like a great trip. Well, thank you very much. Thank you. So next we are going to talk. to Kate. And Kate Ryman.
is out in very sunny. Hawaii. And Kate, thank you for joining us today. Kate, I'm going to let you talk about your business. OK. Yeah, sorry. Can you? Absolutely.
We can hear you. Having a little trouble unmuting. Thank you so much. Thanks for inviting me to participate. I, I'm Kate Ryman. Air Force spouse my husband retired last.
year after 20 almost 25 years of service in the Air Force. We were stationed in Hawaii and made this our. last stop. We loved it so much, but prior to this. we were in the DC area.
He was stationed at the Pentagon. And I was actually in Virginia Beach to sort of tie. this all up and I noticed.
my kids, my kids, my husband and I were at the beach and we. had a bunch of classic conventional beach toys and a. wave came in while my kids were playing and took all of their.
plastic toys sort of out to sea. And I was really aware of the. plastic pollution problem that we face. And so I was like.
not on my watch. We're not letting these toys escape out into the ocean. So. I jumped in the ocean, and I was like, pulling out all these toys like a crazy person. And then I got back on the beach and was kind of looking around.
at all of the materials that we use. For these. Adventures that we take to the beach and I thought like.
what are we doing? There's such a disconnect in the materials that we use. and the places that we use them and the products that. we're using them for. And that was in 2016, I sort. of started this journey like I have. to make this better. I don't know how. I was a writer.
by trade and had no experience. in the materials economy and production. anything like that. But I spent. a lot of time just. Pumping my network, which is pretty slim at the time.
Something sending out some cold emails too. Did people in different industries and. trying to figure out how to get started and. that's really, that's really where the journey began and. then as fate would have it, we were transferred to Hawaii around 2015.
And I have to say, when I was in the. DC area explaining to people that I had suddenly become. very passionate about creating a compostable. beach toy, people were like.
OK, you do you. That's great. But when I got to Hawaii, the. response was overwhelming. It was like the connection.
was, was made instantaneously because we. see here on the beaches, the plastic. pollution of you know, decades. previously washing on shore. In.
the form of these tiny little micro plastics that actually. you can see some of those up there. And we just get inundated. I, we live. on the east side of the island, so we, uh, we get dumped on quite frequently, especially in the winter.
So anyways, when I, when I arrived here. Uh. Any doubt that I had that this was a worthwhile venture and.
that consumers would respond was erased because it. was really, really well received. But then I had to actually start putting the pedal to the metal and. I started another, kind of like Steph and. Bryce, you know started another company. to bootstrap my business and pay for the things that I needed. The prototyping.
I bought a 3D printer, so I was doing some communications. work with another business that I started and. funding all of that myself.
And then we finally got to the point where I had picked out that. that the design that I liked, the color scheme, the logo. had tried out different materials. You know, did. my own R and D on that and then. Then we needed funding, like big time funding. for the molds for manufacturing, and so that was when.
I started a Kickstarter campaign. And had I been tapped into VBOC. sooner, Um, I think, I. actually would have made the goal, but I had like big dreams, big ambitions.
thought for sure I could make $400,000 on my Kickstarter. campaign because I was going for all of it. I wasn't just gonna make. bucket. I was going to make all different kinds of molds. And towards the end of the campaign, it was pretty clear. that was not going to happen. I was falling way short.
but one of my friends introduced me to, Um. To VBOC and I had a meeting with Dennis. here on Island who works at the back and. Just dramatically changed the. accessibility of, of capital for me and the. trajectory of the business by really reigning.
me in and, Um, trying to figure out how I could secure funding. You know, in a more practical manner, and so through. through through him I was able to secure. To secure a loan.
Which then, you know. Moved us on a little bit, a little bit more, I realize I'm. talking a lot. So I'm gonna pause here. No, no, you're fine. So right now. your business is up and running and, you have a website. and you have toys available.
We have pre-orders. So. This has been a really difficult journey and I was able to. secure funding. It was an SBA backed loan but it. was in March of 2020 that I secured the funding. Um, it was like right in the at the end of March.
So a lot of things happened then. So then I had to. they put a hold on the loan on the disbursement of funds. because everybody was panicked. And so I had to. fill out more paperwork. Then we, the funds. were finally released, but now my mold manufacturer.
was closed due to COVID and really. that's just been a series of events ever since. I remember I got an email or a phone call from. one of my vendors saying that the material that. That I use for the product which was like our hold. up at the time, it couldn't be produced. It had been produced.
but during the shipping process it had been contaminated. because they had to use. A recycled box and the recycled box had some like.
carbon material in it that rendered my material useless. and I'm like what load of garbage. are they feeding me? Back Shortage what are you talking. about? But then sure enough. Like the next day and the newspaper or the.
headlines like cardboard box shortage and this was just like the. you know. The story of the business and continues to be driver shortages.
supply chain issues. Or it's being backed up so we have. It's like a good place to be.
We have a lot of interest, especially from hotel chains all over the world. But we're still working on the fulfillment issue because. We keep facing these. Really unexpected and really bizarre challenges. in the business. Understand. And, and we definitely know that.
pandemic was, was devastating to small. businesses, especially those who relied on those deliveries. right on time. As a military spouse, what advice would you give? to other military spouses who are looking at. starting a business? I mean, I would say keep going right. I would say for my. I'm going to talk like to myself right now.
in this environment. There's so many unknowns for my business at least. Still, we're kind of coming out of it now and I feel confident. that we'll have product in the spring of 2023, but. Had I not been really firm in.
my mission and the reason behind why. I began this business, I think I had many opportunities. To exit this business for valid reasons. And still do, but the problem. persists. The plastic pollution problem persists and.
That is my driver and I have to be very intentional. about zooming out. Right? Because it's easy. for all of us to get caught up in the small details of. the daily grind of the business. But I have to really zoom. out and remind myself, what am I trying to do? Why am I doing this? Who am I doing it for? So. if I, you know, if I can keep reminding myself.
of my why, then I have the fortitude. to continue. And, and you, as we said in. a previous conversation, I think that military. Veterans and spouses are uniquely positioned to. To run their own business because we are. um, oftentimes thrown into situations that.
we were not expecting or had little control over and. we have to make the most of it. And I think that there is a strong. parallel between that and being an entrepreneur and.
sort of playing the hand that, that you're dealt. So. You know, for military spouses and veterans, I would say. You know. Keep the mission front and center. Um, and keep going and then to echo what Bryce said. there are, um.
That services available to you as a military spouse as well. as a veteran. Um. That. That are unique to you in your situation and I think. VBOC is definitely an asset. and I have relied heavily on.
the expertise of Dennis, who's worked with me at. VBOC in the Pacific. That's great. Are there other SBA resources. that you have used? Really, the VBOC was the most and I, and I received. the SBA loan. I didn't qualify for. a lot of the, um, relief services just.
due to the nature of this business. But the SBA loan was, was. huge in getting the business from prototype. fees to. Manufacturing phase. Thank you. Um, I know that.
um,Steph and Bryce also mentioned, you know giving back to the community. and we see that a lot with military spouse and. veteran owned businesses that wanting to connect. with the community. And so we see that with your.
business as well. Where do you see your business going from here? Well, I mean, I have big, big goals for the business, um. it's really not so much about beach toys as. it is about introducing the concept of a better material to.
market and a viable alternative to petroleum. based plastics. So really I like to think of the beach. toys as a proof of concept that consumers are ready.
and willing to spend more money on a better material. and we're sort of kicking the door open with beach toys. But then leveraging that to get this material out. far and wide. Reducing the price point so that other companies that wanna.
make a plastic based product have. a viable alternative. You know, right now the price. point is so high that I think it's cost prohibitive. for a lot of startups. Um, and so really, that's the goal is to try to bring the price point down. Flood. the market with this alternative and just change the way we think.
about the products that we make. I know the pandemic really affected your business, but, um. what would you do differently if you, if you could. go back? What would you do differently? I think I mentioned this earlier. I wish I had worked.
with VBOC at the outset because if I had worked. with VBOC I could have achieved the Kickstarter campaign. goal which would have accelerated. The trajectory of the business and I, I might have gotten in front of the pandemic with the production. I feel like right now our production is sort of.
caught in this cycle where we fix. one problem. But then there's another issue that arises and. I think had I known about.
VBOC earlier, I might have had product. earlier and I would have been in. a much stronger position to withstand and. get through, through the pandemic.
Thank you, Kate, and, and thank you very much for joining us today. Um, We are going to transition to. our last business owner and. he is representing an established business that. is now getting ready to grow. I'd like. to introduce Mike Stacks and his wife.
is not able to join us today, but we, we. know that she does work with you. Mike is. the owner of Bold Mariner Brewing and.
Mike, I'll let you tell us about your business. Thank you. Am I unmuted? Can you guys? Alright. Can you? We can hear you. No, we can hear. you. Alright. So, um, thank you. The, we. opened Bold Mariner seven years ago, so.
also while I was in on active duty, I just. retired last year. I ended up doing a little bit. more active duty time than originally planned with my. business plan and transition. Which worked out great for. the business, but it was also difficult for running a.
business and being in the military. and a family both. So I do. like the idea of starting your business, business. plan and engaging with those resources prior to.
retiring, but I don't think I'd recommend taking it, stringing. it out quite as long as I did. Um. But similar to the other two businesses.
Used a lot of the same resources, the VBOC was. probably the center of gravity that, um, I. did most of my networking, engaging, and even finding other resources through. So. I worked with them. Scored, um, one big. one for me and the type of business that I'm in was. I worked with the City of Norfolk Business Development.
program and as we look to expand. And create a second, you know, potentially. third location production facility. We are currently working with all. of the different business development departments here. in the seven cities. To one, try to find the.
the right location for us as. we expand and take advantage of. any resources that are out there, um, city owned. properties, grants that are available. tax incentives, um, different locations. can offer you different, different types of monies.
and different. Um, different opportunity zones that you could. find available. Um, different breaks for.
employees, other things. So we're really, we're in. a stage where we're kind of back to the drawing. board with seeing what resources are out there and. doing it all over again. Um. We. really tried to get as much as we could. We. also had a small Kickstarter.
fund that we were fortunate enough. to be successful with, which did help us out. with some of that initial startup funds because. one of our biggest barriers to entry was the. capital it took to get a business started.
And have found that everybody's willing to, to give you money. when you don't need it from them, but when you need it. you, they want you to have money in the 1st place. So it's.
like you come to, you know, get ask for a loan. I need this much money and they're like well, great. Well, you know, do you have this much money to give. us before we give you the money? And well, if I had that I would. only be asking for this much money. So it's. kind of it's a funny.
Paradigm that entrepreneurs find themselves in when you're. You know, bootstrapping that business. Um. I guess I'll pause and see if there's any questions.
or any direction you wanted me to go with talking. about the business and how we started up or where. we're currently at. Sure. So why a brewery? Why? That was my original plan.
When I was in living in Michigan, so back in the 90s. I grew up home brewing. My. father, my grandfather were home brewers and.
so it was something that I grew up helping. out as a kid, watching them brew. I'd go down and. my dad would brew in a big garbage. can and I would stir this. This wart, with liquids, it's called called wart when you're early in the process and it. was for me as a kid, it was like really hard to stir.
and then you would let me put the sugar. pills into his bottles, which carbonated. the bottles. So I kind of was already interested. in the process as a young child. And then.
then when I got into college. I had a trip out to Kalamazoo. And I found Bells Brewing Company. And I saw that there was this tiny little brew pub called Bells. and they had a little home brew system like I had and they were.
actually making beer for people and sharing it and. I thought, wow, they're, you know, taking this same, similar hobby, passion, and sharing it with people and customers and were able to. monetize it. And I looked at it at, at everything and said.
I can do the same thing. So I talked to my brother. thought, you know, he may be interested in starting a brewery with. me, which he was. So back in the 90s. we.
Kind of started looking into everything about what it would. take to start a small brewery, but at the same time I wanted. to see if I could become a Navy SEAL, and I figured I could. only do that while I was young and in the 90s there. wasn't as many craft breweries out there as there are now, so I thought. I'll just always be able to come back and open a brewery.
I was going to use the GI Bill to go to. UC Davis and get my Brew Masters degree. So the original plan was four years in the Navy go. to UC Davis, come back to Michigan, start a brewery.
And I joined the Navy and it. was kind of like becoming like becoming Peter Pan. I was couldn't believe that they paid me to do. the things that I got to do. And I like blinked. And next thing you know. It was 15 years in. UM and I started to think about.
getting out and at the same time they passed the. law in Virginia, which allowed breweries. to have their own on-premise tasting rooms. When. that happened, a bunch of breweries started to open. up. So that's when if you guys are familiar with the area, that's. when O'connors opened, Reverb Beach. O'Connor's actually opened.
right down the street from where I lived. So I went. in and volunteered and just said, hey, I'm a home Brewer. I plan on opening a brewery when I get out of the Navy. Do you mind if I help? And they brought. me on as a volunteer, so I used to volunteer at O'Connors. before work. And then the there was another.
brewery that opened shortly after in Virginia Beach. Young veterans. that I stopped in said the same thing. So I used to go to O'Connors. before work, go to work at the Navy, go to young.
vets after work and volunteer and then come home to. just start to really learn the professional side. of brewing from the home. Home brew side and at that point I started.
hearing about other breweries in the area, in planning. UM and figured if I'm gonna. do mine, I have to. I have to open it now. Otherwise I would miss the.
wave. I would be so late to mark it. Nobody would really. care about the brand or notice. that. So that was when we decided to. go ahead and try to start the brewery prior to. getting out of the military. So I understand that you also attended Boots to Business.
What was your biggest takeaway from that? I. did. Um, I did the process. a little bit backwards, so I took Boots to Business. As the brewery was opening. it may have actually been just. after we opened the doors, it was still helpful.
but I had almost done the program with. the VBOC. prior to, but I didn't. I didn't get the full Boots to Business. experience, so I had a, had a week available and I took. the Boots to Business course. My key take away from there was.
Um, how the program. really gave you all in, just in that one week block, it gave you the, it. doesn't give you all the answers and it doesn't really. It doesn't take you through everything you need to know, but it gives. you those entry points to every one of those. vectors of resources that you needed. Um,
so the key takeaway there was if there was. a direction you needed to go, they gave you a starting point. and a point of contact and they could help you along that, that path.
Absolutely. And, and we definitely know that. Boots to Business is designed to be exactly that. It's. an introductory course to entrepreneurship, to kind. of let you look at all the things that you should consider.
when you are thinking of starting a business. How has the pandemic affected you? Oh it changed lots and lots of stuff the. so we. Three years ago, a little more than three years ago, we bought.
the current building that we're in. Um, originally. that was gonna be a second location and we decided to. turn it into a move.
So we actually packed up the brewery from one location, moved it on flatbed. tow trucks over to the new location and. we pretty much got the doors open about the. month before COVID hit. We were already established and we had product and. We had a very good first month, but then everything.
went all stop and we, you know, for a while we're not able to and. or the state regulations they would tell you could. open and or you couldn't open week to week which. has huge ramifications when you have employees and, stock and inventory and overhead especially with perishable. stuff, you can't just, you know, buy stuff, throw it.
on the shelf. So all those decisions that were being made. Telling people open your doors, close your doors had huge. impacts on businesses, I think especially. in the service industries.
But we had supply chain issues. Everything went to cans. The big. beverage manufacturers had bought up all the cans. we had to start to try to source cans.
from other breweries that they weren't going to use cans anymore. So we actually. Had a whole batch of cans with another breweries like brand. painted on the cans that we had to put stickers over the top of.
and actually I had customers like sending us videos. trying to accuse us of like selling. somebody else's beer. It was it was just like a very bizarre time, but. UM, we went to having.
to not be open and just sat on the front porch. with cases of beer inside and people would pull up. in cars. They would like call in orders and I would just have you know. beer waiting. So we are fortunate that we had loyal. local customers that, um, you know, were willing to. come over and do what they.
could to keep us going. And then it seemed like the dynamic and the problems. just changed from week to week and month to month until we.
were finally able to open up. And. the lesson there was just being flexible. You know. don't be so tied to that business model. that you had, like, be willing to make changes. See. what's working, what's not working and we operate. currently, you know differently than we did or would have.
prior to COVDI hitting. And I think we're, you know, we're. much more efficient in how we operate and you know, being a company that was able to weather the storm. I think, you know, it just makes us.
That much more resilient for other. events in the future. Absolutely. And we know that veterans and.
military spouses are certainly resilient and adapt. very well. Were there other SBA. resources that you used other than the VBOC and attending Boots to Business? Oh my gosh, the list of resources is.
we asked for help from anybody and everybody. I guess my you guys had asked advice before and that. would have been mine was I tried to do too much on my own.
too early. So when I started using resources. that was really what helped me out the most. So one. asking for help getting help. Um yeah. We have, we were we.
were given a grant from the. for exporting and again. the timing of that was kind of unfortunate because COVID hit.
and there was shipping shortfalls and everything, so. we although we haven't been able to fulfill and. or finish everything that we set out to do.
with the exporting, we've learned a. whole lot about. Shipping overseas working with exporters, importers. shipping companies. Laws with. Importing, exporting, labeling, labeling in different.
countries, all kinds of, it's it's a lot of. a lot of stuff, but there's a lot of potential for. business growth with exporting. So.
that program was one of them that we benefited from. And then SBA programs during COVID, so. some of the. The loans that were available to help. get through COVID as well. That's great. You kind of mentioned that you're expanding.
Wanna tell us about that? So yeah, gladly. The building that we're. currently in we are about. maxed out on the amount of equipment that we can put in, so. our production capacity. and our capability and our canning line, everything.
we're just can't really make. any more beer than we currently are. Since we we've been very fortunate that we are. constantly back ordered and have.
omre demand than than we're making so. that's a great problem to have, but it's still a problem. And when you look at the cost of. equipment and the size of equipment that it takes to. tackle some of the expansion we're doing, it's one of those.
problems that you don't want to. To get over leveraged. You know. especially right now, with where interest rates are, it's pretty. scary to think, you know, OK, Hey, I'm gonna, I.
need about $500,000 worth of equipment. and I need to find a building to put it in and I need. to. You know,
Get this to the next level, but, um, right. now that's a the stage that we're at. So we are currently. looking for locations to. put a, one, we need to create a production facility, but.
two in that search, we've had offers that are in great. locations for other tasting rooms. So in our process of looking for a production. facility, we, you know, and then.
trying to look at cost and how you put that. together, we may end up doing a combination of. different solutions for that. Either, you know. Like multiple satellite. smaller production facilities that all combined. we can create enough product and or a combination of a production.
facility and other satellite. facilities as well. Thank you. So I. don't have any more questions specifically for Mike, but for all. of our panelists. And um, I think, um so I would.
just like to ask and then whoever wants to answer first. Um. What is 1 characteristic that. you see in veterans and military spouses. That translate well. Into successful entrepreneurship.
If you had to say, you know, what characteristic? or what, um, what one characteristic do you think helps you be successful? Mike, do you want to start? Since you're on camera? Sure. Let me see if I can get unmuted here. You're. unmuted. OK. Alright. So. Um. Well. I would say the character trait would be grit.
and the willingness. to know day after day just kind of grind things out. I feel like for, you know. UM, military and how.
we work being, um, organized coming up with. plans, executing plans helps and with. military spouses. My wife, she's not.
here, but she's out doing exactly what she's been doing. Right? Like juggling life. So she's coaching track. 4 kids, making it happen a lot of times when.
your spouse isn't there. Um I started this business and I would say 90. of the time my wife runs this business so. again, just like the our life. You know that, in that grit that she has and drive. and just, you know, like determination.
to succeed and or just to get the job done. day after day. Thank you. Kate, would you like to answer? Yeah.
I think we touched on this already, but the ability to adapt. or like the favorite word of 2020, pivot, right? I. think you see that in military. lives like you think your life is going to sway you.
think your next step is going to be a certain place and then the military has. other plans for you or your family. Same thing in your business journey. You know, you have a plan. but there are lots of other avenues that the plan takes. without your direction and you have. to adapt. Adapt to yourself, adapt the plan. Um, so.
I think. Like I said before, we are uniquely positioned. to run businesses because we've. we've had to adapt multiple times. And throughout the military.
life. Absolutely, Steph and Bryce. I'll probably end up just kind of parroting with the other two of said a little bit. but yeah, just that task oriented mindset.
Um, I think in today's world people think because. of social media and whatnot, that business is glamorous. and you know, it's all about the flashy things, but. kind of like the two, um, Kate and Mike already. said, like it's not glamorous, it's taking on a task. and getting it done.
And so, you know, both. both vets already understand. Sorry, we got F. eighteens flying over. I don't know if you can hear them. They're really loud. Just a little bit.
Yeah, but that's already. Vets knowing that you show up and you do the work, and then when the work's done, you get to go home sort of thing and then. spouses, the same way, they just, you know, everybody's. got a job to do and you get the job done and then you can relax or.
then you can move on to the next task. It's. kind of an uncommon thing these days, unfortunately. But I. think it's pretty, pretty pervasive. And what we're talking about. Absolutely. So I have a second question for everyone. We'll start with the Steph and Bryce. What has been The most rewarding part for being a business owner? So I'll take this one and I think he probably agrees and.
we have another jet, so we'll try to speak loudly. Um, coming from the military, you. conform to a lot of things and you take orders and you do as you're. told and, um.
For me, I really missed me, I. missed Stephanie, so I missed my creativity and. just having the freedom to. do what you want. I mean, you can't necessarily do whatever you want with a. business because there's all kinds of licenses and. legal stuff. And if people are gonna get into.
Being a business owner, they will quickly learn all of but. just for example. We, I wanted to make a Father's Day blend last. year called it Papa Java just. because I was like I think I wanna do this and I think I have. a really good idea and I have some really great coffees and let's try this.
nd it ended up being one of our best sellers and our most loved. coffees of all time. But that for me, for me it was that it. brings that creativity back and just anything. from like design to new coffees to.
bring in and sample roasting coffees to see the potential of each. one. And I just I absolutely love it and. then I'll add on to that actually because that might be hers.
but mine mine is like the stoked nature of when. you see someone. We have a heavy presence at farmers. markets and stuff like that. That's kind of one of the pillars of our business. is the community involvement. And just seeing people like their faces when they taste.
our coffee, when they figure out that they enjoy it and when they. start to come back time after time after time for more. and more and more. And you see that it's like impacting their. day in a positive way. And they're just so stoked on it. I don't know. And creating those relationships with those return.
customers is just it's so nice. So fun. That's great. So Mike, I'm going to ask you the same question. What has been the most rewarding? About being a business owner? I would have to say looking at like what. it was that we created, um, the community. involvement, but, you know, when I'm in the. new location and we have an event.
Um being there with my wife, my family. friends, colleagues, like the our employees. and everybody that's been there with us from the beginning and looking. around and just seeing everybody and then taking a look at it and being. like, wow, like we made this. Is the best part of it and.
the community involvement. if I ever see somebody, you know, wearing a shirt. or a sticker on their car, I still get like crazy. excited and start smiling and I'll even like, try to secretly.
like snap a picture with my phone and I text everybody I'm like. oh, like this person's wearing our shirt like, I love it. Like, I don't even. know who this guy is, but um.
And those little moments are probably the. best, the most treasured ones. that's. That's it for me. No, that's great. And Kate?
Now we've got some. Air traffic. Sorry. Yeah. So I think what Jeff said at the beginning about having. freedom, um, I think that the flip side of that is. you are responsible for all things that. have to do with the business, which can be extremely challenging and.
tedious. But I think the, you know, the. benefit of that is you are limited only by. your creativity and your energy in your time. And then specifically. To my business, what's been so. rewarding is, there's.
If my business feels like a complete disaster. but like when I zoom out, I. have customers who have been waiting for just. about two years now on their pre-order for a beach. toy. It's a beach toy, right? So. they're hanging around not because.
they need a beach toy, but because they believe. in the vision and the mission. of the business. And to me that. is incredibly rewarding.
I felt and still do, really guilty. bout holding on to these pre-orders and I tried. to release them actually about nine months ago. I.
tried to give everybody their money back and cancel the pre-orders and. people wouldn't let me because they. really wanted to. They wanted me to see it through. and it's, that is so. satisfying as a business owner to know that these.
people really have your back and. It's been a really difficult year, personally and professionally, but. I and I haven't because of that, I haven't done any marketing. I've really like taken my foot off the gas on marketing, I have.
a very quiet social media presence this. year, which is a whole 180 from how we used. to operate, but because I didn't want. anymore preorders. I didn't, I didn't want to be responsible. for this when it looked like really dire. and bleak.
But I still get inquiries. from, like I said, I had an inquiry the other day from a hotel. in the Maldives. That's sustainable resort and they. would like to carry our children's toys. Sports. Basement, which is a sporting goods chain in.
the San Francisco area, would like to carry our toys. This is all. without any marketing whatsoever. So to know that people are looking.
and are finding me as an option to. The more sustainable choice for plastic and play. is incredibly rewarding and I have. to like really cling to that. And as we move. through the challenge after challenge after challenge so just.
I'm really lucky that. That our customers have wholeheartedly. supported the business and really will not let me. It won't. let me give up.
Absolutely, and we're certainly glad you did not give. up. I'm going to quickly check to see if we have any questions. in the chat before I turn it over to Tim. but definitely would like to thank you. Thank you for taking the time to be on here. Thank you for sharing your stories.
Thank you for your service and I don't. see any other questions. And so with that, I am going to turn. it back over to Tim. Trying to get my camera to work. Thank you very much I feel.
a lot of a lot of passion on our panelists. I. know entrepreneurship is a tough, tough. business. I think everybody that came.
out loud and clear, you guys are really working hard to. be successful and we do appreciate that. We do have resources. I know a lot of you have. reached out to but don't stop there, continue to reach. out to our resource network and our. veterans business outreach center.
We appreciate that and SBA overall. appreciates your contributions to the. You know. The health of the economy and we hope now. that we're the hopefully the pandemics, a little bit behind us. You're very successful going forward. That's good for all.
of us. So thank you very much for your participation. Thanks for joining the webinar and Cup of Joe today. and we just can't thank you enough for your. service to the economy and to this country and. we really, truly do appreciate it. So thank you very much.
Laura, if there's nothing else, I'll let you close it out. OK, so if anybody would like a list. of the resources or a link to the VBOC, we'd. be more than happy to provide that to you. Just.
so you know there are 22 veterans business outreach centers. across the United States that are ready to support you on. your entrepreneurship journey. Please reach out to us and again. Thank you for joining us. Thank you. Thank you.