Hello and welcome to La Leona Podcast Small business talk, I’m your host Tayde Gonzalez and this is my very first show!
I can’t even tell you how excited I am to start this new project.
As a small business owner myself, my mission is to create a podcast that will inspire, motivate and help you in your entrepreneurial journey.
I want to show you the real behind the scenes on how your favorite local businesses were created and have their owners share unique strategies for branding, marketing, and profiting. That’s right! there’s no gate keeping here!
Here at la Leona podcast we want you to awaken the lioness and be ferocious at chasing your dreams and goals.
Today we are going to be talking about the business of coffee ☕️
•How to source it
•How to brand it
•How to sell it
•How to market it
C O N C E P T I O N
(what led you to go into this business)
but before we do that, let take you back to how I came up with the idea and give you a quick background on how La Leona coffee was created.
First off, it’s important for me to mention that I am that type of person that has always wanted to have my own business. I attended school at the fashion institute of design and Merchandise here in San Diego and In LA for my second year, I graduated at the Staples center. I studied product development because I knew that I wanted to be involved in the process of product making.
Immediately after graduating I landed a job working for a company that had licensing and created clothing for different soccer teams locally such as Xolos de Tijuana as well as European teams such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona, etc…
While I was there, I was assisting with every single facet of production, from looking at technical drawings, approving samples, styling photo shoots and catalogs, setting up showrooms and helping get the sales team organized. I even got to travel to Hong Kong to meet with our manufacturers face to face and work on our other private label clothing brands.
So pretty much my dream job…
I worked there for about a year and I learned so so much, but then sadly around 2013 I was laid off.
After that my life began developing in different ways and I had a lot of big things happen in my life. like moving back to Leon with my parents because of green card issues, fixing those, coming back finding a partner, having my first kid etc etc
And I basically just let the time fly by . Fast forward to 2015-2016 I found myself being a mom, working retail I used to work at Henri Bendel (Rest In Peace) Then Bloomingdale’s with a horrific schedule not really being able to control my hours, my pay, and having my son stay with my mom pretty much all day while my partner and I worked. And that was just a really sad feeling, one that I know a lot of you moms and dads can relate to just being totally powerless over your life really.
And that powerless feeling is what lead me to apply to cosmetology school. this is also because I was finding it really difficult to find any sort of product development type jobs here in San Diego it seemed like they were all based up in LA, and living there was just not a possibility for us at all at the moment.
I enrolled at Paul Mitchell the school here in downtown San Diego and now looking back, I can see how that was not the right move for me but at the moment I thought me becoming a hairstylist could give me the freedom to make my own schedule, decide how much I would earn, and ultimately make me a small business owner I would finally have something of my own.
I got my cosmetology certificate passed state board which was not easy let me tell you it took me 2 tries but I finally did it and then when I started working at salons as an assistant reality hit, doing hair was not my passion. I loved being surrounded by all the talent and ambition of hairstylist but It is a very very demanding career and to put it quite bluntly, you need to have a lot of passion for the craft to get you through those grueling work days.
Fast forward again, this time to 2019, still working as a salon assistant when I find out I was pregnant with my second child, a daughter.
I gave birth to her December 31st 2019 she is a New Years baby and that’s also the day the world health organization officially recognized or named COVID-19
As everyone knows hair stylist and salons were hit very very hard during the beginning stages of the pandemic it was a lot of uncertainty a lot of opening then closing again and I was left wondering if it was even worth it for me to continue pursuing a career in cosmetology knowing damn well my heart wasn’t fully in it.
So, I decided to try again. Go back to the drawing board figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
And if you remember well, during the pandemic it seemed like everyone and their moms was selling something. I had friends and family that started baking sourdough bread, others making artisanal pizzas, delicious cookies, desserts just everything and I saw how quickly we all gathered to support them and buy whatever it was that they were selling.
So I wanted in, I was like I want to sell something of my own! I want to have something I can put all my efforts in, be creative, take beautiful product pictures, recommend, and build from the ground up.
But guys, I’m a horrible cook like I don’t bake I’m useless in the kitchen I don’t have any crafts I could make so I started researching products that were already made nothing I had to make with my own hands, and things I could basically put my own brand into and private label.
I did a lot of googling and YouTubing and i saw a video of this guy that was private labeling coffee. it was like a light bulb just went right off and I was like omg coffee who doesn’t like coffee I love coffee I love the idea of having my own so let me see how easy or hard it actually is to have my own coffee company.
And I think this is a great way to transition into talking about our key points starting with sourcing your coffee
S O U R C I N G
(Where to start, keywords, sources)
My research began to find local roasters that would be open to private labeling their coffee.
And luckily San Diego has a very abundant coffee scene with really amazing, talented, and experienced roasters. but my research lead me to find a company about 45min away up in Temecula that devotes their entire operation to sourcing really high quality beans and they are open to doing private labeling.
So my suggestion to anyone trying to source coffee for their brand is to literally google private label coffee in San Diego or wherever you live and if you don’t see many results with that then simply research local coffee roasters and go directly to them either DM on instagram email or in person and ask them if they are open to private label and go from there.
B R A N D I N G
(Breaking down name, logo, market position, message)
So let’s keep talking as if I was coaching you through the steps of actually opening up your own coffee business.
once you talk to your roaster and agree to start production you will need to begin your branding.
Starting with a name. For me, it didn’t take much research I knew that I wanted the coffee to represent where I come from which is Leon, Guanajuato. And I knew I wanted it to be female forward so that’s why Leona came to mind. It was also important for the name to be easy to pronounce in English and Spanish so it can appeal to my Latinx community, and that’s when I landed on La Leona coffee.
Then I spent some time coming up with my tagline, something that could help me sell the message a bit further, so after workshopping a few things I came up with “awaken the lioness” and the word lioness as a whole really stood out for me. The urban dictionary meaning of lioness is: “a extremely independent, ambitious, driven women who is fierce, backs up her shit, takes care of her own, friends, and family” like whoa that is exactly what I want my coffee brand to embody.
For the logo, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at different coffee brands to see if there was anything that stood out for me. But ultimately I decided to take after the biggest player in the industry; Starbucks. Their mermaid really inspired me I like how geometric the shape is and how the mermaid really means something in Greek methodology. So I wanted to develop my lioness the same way, emulate it but make her hair curly and have her hold a cup of coffee.
S E L L I N G
(Places, Spaces, Communities)
Alright so at this point you have your coffee supplier, and you landed on a name and a logo, and you’ve created a tagline that’s going to help you start creating a message for your brand, which will be very helpful when you get to the marketing side of things. Okay now what? I have my coffee in hand or it’s in my supplier’s warehouse so now i need to sell it.
The first thing you need to do is open a shopify page. Now, I am planning on going very in depth on how to use shopify as well as talk you through the ins and outs on apps, add ons, pros and some cons in later episodes, so don’t really worry about technicalities when it comes to a website. If you already have a website that has selling capabilities then don’t worry about shopify, but If you do have a website but it doesn’t already have an easy way for you to add product and start selling, then I do suggest you go over to shopify and transfer everything you have over.
Next, you need to set up your Instagram, and this is where you get to be creative and have fun with things! Go check out your favorite local shops and coffee brands and see what they are doing with their feeds to get inspiration and get an idea of the type of content that’s already working out there in the market.
You will have to spend some time in the beginning taking product pictures of your coffee bags, making your coffee, trying out different recipes so you can start recommending it to your audience.
Your very first clients will hopefully be friends and family and it’s very important that you start getting feedback right away, so you can improve and adjust recipes as needed. The best way to sell your coffee is to showcase delicious ways to drink it!
Another way of selling your coffee and one of my preferred methods especially at the very beginning, is pop-ups! I get so excited talking about pop-ups even though I’m not really doing any at the moment because I have luckily landed a space where I can sell my coffee for the summer so I no longer have to be constantly searching for pop ups, but pop ups for selling any food based item is where it’s at!
The reason why I highly encourage you to participate in pop ups is because nothing beats face to face customer interaction. Especially when it comes to something edible, having people actually try your coffee for the first time and give your feedback in irl is what’s actually going to help you the most later on in your marketing efforts. Without people actually trying your coffee selling it the coffee bags online is going to become a real challenge for you.
The process of participating in a pop up is a very easy process but it can be a little tricky at the beginning. So, you will go into Instagram again, and search San Diego pop-ups and start your research there. and this is an area you will have to spend some time researching because popups can be really big, farmer’s market type events or they can be very micro focused. I’ve attended some at full out venues and other’s at people’s houses so there really is something for everyone. I suggest if your are a SD local you should start looking at Femx it’s a venue. and following them if you haven't already. and once you are there you will start to see a number of pop ups and events they have coming up and also spend some time looking at what the have hosted in the past. and then its all a matter of clicking on the ones that stand out to you and following them because the host will typically open applications for new vendors and you will have to get in there and learn how to participate. the beauty about pop-ups is that once you do one, you will start connecting with a bunch of fellow vendors and by following them you can begin your vendor network so it’s way easier to participate and find events.
again, this is just the tip of the iceberg on how to sell your coffee and I’m planning on covering and interviewing people that host pop ups for a living basically because it’s super interesting concept and a real behind the scenes there, so keep an eye on the podcast for that.
M A R K E T I N G
(getting your message out there)
Ok, so we are heading to the last key point of our conversation here, all about the business of selling coffee which is probably the most important and that is marketing. Now I’m not a marketing wizard or a genius I def still have a lot more to learn when it comes to all these topics that i’ve mentioned so far, but I am extremely passionate about marketing. I’m currently enrolled in the UCSD content marketing course online and I have just completely immersed myself in everything marketing for the past year or so trying to learn as much as i can from professionals, peers, and reputable sources. So let me share my overall strategies and kind of my thought process when it comes to marketing La Leona coffee.
The reason why I was so focused on coming up with a tagline at the very beginning of my branding research is because I know that what sells a product, any product not just coffee, is a good message that people can understand and stand behind. So what I mean by this is that people will buy your product once, just because they may know you and they are curious and they want to support you but if you want a real longevity and client loyalty I think you really need to make it about the message. For example, I always say my company is not about the coffee, it’s about me supporting and helping young, ambitious females who may just be starting or may not even know that owning a small business is even a possibility for them, but they feel called to entrepreneurship and they just don’t know where to start. Very similar to where I was in my situation where I explained to you guys earlier that I knew I wanted to have and nourish a business but had no idea where to start.
So you may be saying, ok but how does that relate to you selling coffee? well my whole message might be awaken the lioness (aka get it done) just do it! very Nike... but what I’m sitting here thinking about is what is the very first thing people do in the morning when they wake up and are ready to start working on those goals and dreams? they drink coffee, as simple as that. majority of people wake up to the smell of coffee brewing in the morning and it’s a motivation for them to wake up early because they know they already have a delicious treat waiting for them that will fuel them with energy, wake them up and start their morning on a good path. just think about those mornings where you didn’t have time to make your coffee in the morning or even stop at 7/11 to get some those morning suck!! in my opinion you feel cheated you feel like your morning is already off to a bad start. so in order to align with my greater purpose for La Leona, i start by providing really high quality, delicious coffee that you can rely on to get you through your morning.
That being said, all of my content marketing efforts meaning social media posts, video, blogs, and everything else i have planned on releasing this year will revolve around mornings, morning routines, morning coffee recipes, and other things that may aid my target audience with their coffee needs.
C O N C L U S I O N
Alright guys, so with that we are getting closer to the end of this podcast a quick recap of what we touched on today, for all you dreamers and coffee lovers that may want to have their own coffee brand one day I tried to give you a general but thorough glimpse behind how I run my own company. shared my business conception story how i source my coffee, how i brand it, how i sell it and how i market it. Please if you know someone that is obsessed with coffee and is always talking about owning a small business go share this episode with them or tag them on our INSTAGRAM page @LaLeonapodcast go to our website at laleonaco.com to check out show notes, as well as as a written transcript of this episode in case you like to listen and read at the same time I know I personally like to learn this way. and thank you for listening also if you have any suggestions of small business owners in the San Diego OC, even LA area that I can interview tag them on Insta or send us a DM with their info because this is just the beginning and we def want to share as many stories as possible to cater to all of you out there that are chasing that entrepreneurial dream!
Again, thank you so very much for listening Leonas don’t forget to rate us and subscribe to the show, and I will see you guy next Sunday! byeee...