AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDER MICHAELA LEWIS.
Please describe Redeemed Coffee Company in 1-2 sentences.
Redeemed Coffee Company is an online coffee shop inspired by the healing comfort of coffee. Coffee serves a larger purpose than just a typical morning beverage - it's a foundation of support and warmth in our everyday life. In the same way coffee supports us in our daily lives, we strive to support the programs and organizations helping with addiction awareness, addiction recovery, and ending the stigma of addiction and mental health.
Can you share the moment you realized you wanted to create this company? Where did the need come from, or what was that a-ha moment? What's your WHY?
The idea happened 2 years after my father passed away. As the anniversary of his death came up, I was overtaken by grief and more mad than anything that if it wasn’t for his addiction he might still be here. On that day I decided the conversation needed to be brought to life. I never felt like I could talk openly about my dad’s addiction because I didn’t want people to look at him or myself differently. Doctors treated him differently, he was made to feel like he had to keep this diagnosis a secret, and I simply thought there wasn’t enough research out there.
So, I went to social media and said I didn’t quite know what I was going to do but that I was going to do something and gave myself a one year time line. Then a year later, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I was furloughed. It gave me the time and space to really dive deep into what I wanted to do. I love coffee, and while I was growing up the most uplifting and growth-inspiring conversations happened over a cup of coffee with family and friends. It brought out a vulnerability that was needed for these types of conversations.
So, the idea of selling coffee and having 20% of the proceeds go back to nonprofits dealing with addiction awareness and recovery was born! The idea was to create a community where people everywhere could feel supported, whether they themselves were dealing with an addiction or if it was a loved one or family member walking beside them. The "why" comes from me not having this community growing up. I felt so alone, and the more I've talked to people the more I discover this is more common than not - and there is so much grace and love in this type of community. I have learned so much from our nonprofit partners as well and I’m super proud and humble to be helping them towards their mission!
How did your current partnership with To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), and previous partnerships with Shatterproof and Kendra Scott, come to be? What is that like?
I previously worked at Kendra Scott as a Retail Manager and actually worked with both nonprofit organizations through them! Kendra Scott (an Austin, TX based jewelry company - you may even recognize the creator from Shark Tank!) will host local give back events in store and online while donating 20% of their proceeds. Shatterproof and TWLOHA were no brainers to work with! Both organizations do so much good and my favorite part about both organizations is the education they bring to their supporters. Our partner structure works on a quarterly basis. So for 3 months anything purchased online 20% will go back to them. We also offer donation options to give our non-coffee drinkers a way to give back! I also offer them the opportunity to host a give back event through Kendra Scott if they would like.
We're all about good fuel around here! Can you tell us more about your coffee products?
Absolutely! I go through a company called Joe’s Coffee Garage for both of my roasts. My medium roast, “Dee’s Roast”, (named after my father) is a single origin coffee from Colombia with tasting notes of hazelnut and grapefruit. My Dark Roast, “Barbara’s Roast”, (named after my sister) is a single origin from Brazil with tasting notes of smoky raspberry, dark chocolate, and anise.
What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome in starting your own mission-driven business? How did you overcome it?
The biggest thing I have had to overcome and (some days still overcoming) is self-doubt or imposter syndrome. I am by no means the expert on all things coffee and I am still learning about addiction as well. At first I was scared to put myself out there not knowing everything. Then I realized this mission and conversation is bigger than my ego. If I approach everything authentically and with a heart to give, then everything will work itself out. Not only will it work out but I will get to learn a lot, our customers will get to learn a lot and their feedback will be valued, and we will all be giving back to these amazing organizations.
It's likely that every reader knows someone battling addiction, whether they realize it or not. How can we better support our loved ones today?
Yes. 22 million people in America struggle with addiction, and it is the third leading cause of death. However, many people are not getting the help they need. A big reason for this is Stigma. There's this thought that someone struggling or battling an addiction is a villain, because that is most often the narrative we see them portrayed in the media and entertainment. But that simply is not the case. My father loved people, had ambition in his career, and wanted the best for his family. However, he was battling a few different disorders along with his addiction that were not being addressed or considered with his addiction. So my advice is to always show grace, be open to listen to what they have to say, and if they are open point them to some mental health resources as well. One thing I wish I would have been able to do with my dad is talk openly about his addiction without being ashamed. Instead I wish I would have approached it from a place of love and grace as opposed to fear and anger.
When it's time to care for your own mental health, do you have any go-to books, podcasts, activities, or rituals?
Honestly, this company can be my escape and own mental health ritual at times! I have a full-time job outside of this, so it is nice to recharge by having open conversations with our community or by making a graphic for Instagram. Outside of just work, I do try and schedule at least 30 minutes a day with a cup of coffee and a book or devotional. Taking walks has also been my saving grace during the pandemic. Additionally, I listen to a podcast every morning while getting ready. This gets me excited to get up in the morning if I know I have a new episode to listen to. My favorite podcast at the moment is Self Made Sister with Anna Keenan.
And finally, if you could end with one message to those struggling with addiction today, what would it be?
This is something I wish I could have told my dad while he was still here, but I would want them to know that there is hope and healing no matter how far into their addiction they are. That there is a whole community out there that wants to help, support, and listen to their story. That your mental health or this disease does not define who you are and that you have people who love you and that want to love you.
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