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    January 08, 2013

    I made a Why and a Why Not List

    I feel like that's a little different from a Pros and Cons. The Pros and Cons are obviousish, but not really helpful in deciding whether to take this idea further. But a WHY and a WHY NOT list... 

    WHY:

    • To create a welcoming community gathering space for, primarily, mothers and young children
    • To have meaningful work when my children are in school
    • To start a family business with my sister (both of us being the sorts who aren't into "real" jobs)
    • To have a space to donate/rent out/provide for meetings, studies, gatherings, retreats, community events
    • To (somehow) (eventually) be a positive force in the neighborhood, to minister to mothers. to make a difference in my community (barf)
    • To contribute financially to my family

    WHY NOT:

    • I'm not sure how I can work the hours required for a start up business when I have a one-year-old at home and I do not want to put her in daycare.
    • Relatedly, a working mom (especially an entrepreneur mom) would mean big lifestyle changes for my family. Do we want that?
    • I am the opposite of a salesperson. No, really. I might be able to sell an idea in writing, but in person? To a lender? HAAAA Not to mention products. For the bazillionth time, I am not profit-oriented. 
    • I am not profit-oriented!
    • I have never managed, trained, supervised, led a staff (okay, even ONE OTHER PERSON). I don't know if I'm a good leader. 
    • Chatting with customers sounds fun - dealing with accountants, lawyers, bankers, maintenance people, wholesalers, etc. sounds intimidating and exhausting. 

    THINGS I SOMEHOW DO NOT FEEL THAT WORRIED ABOUT:

    • Capital. I mean, I don't HAVE any, but if this is something I really want to do, I'm pretty sure I can find a way. Loans, investors, even federal grants for women-owned small businesses that benefit the community. 
    • The risk. I know. But if you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know my anxiety is triggered by things that happened forever ago that I can't change, not REAL things, like money or time. Eh! It all works out! (Phillip: CRINGING.)
    • The idea. I don't just want to open a coffee shop, I want to open a welcoming space to one demographic in particular, in an area where something similar does not exist. I feel like this is a GOOD IDEA. I think people would SHOW UP. One thing I never liked about my real jobs was that I never felt like I was doing something worthwhile. Even if I'm mopping my cafe bathroom, I feel like I'd be mopping my cafe bathroom for the benefit of, and because I care about, tired moms who just need to get out of their own houses. Does that make sense? 
    • Getting along with my sister. I mean, I'm sure there will be Strife, but it also sounds FUN and exciting and full of potential. Not to mention she makes AWESOME treats. 

    And I'm sorry guys, I know you're probably all THREE DAYS OF THIS NONSENSE?! but it's just ON MY BRAIN and this is where I process everything! I bought small business how to books today! I still don't know if this is just another thing that I'm overly excited about (that I will, soon enough, become overly eye rolly about) (I have a lot of those things) or if it's something ... REAL. I have to write through it. 

    By the way, I have loved - LOVED - every single suggestion and thought you've given me. I've put them all in a spreadsheet. Oh yes I have. So if you have more, don't be shy! Or if you have actually opened a cafe before and you're all, "OH GOD, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!" please send that along as well. 

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    Comments

    I thought this might provide more inspiration. Java Train coffee shop in St Paul was awesome when I lived there. Here is an article about it: http://www.twincities.com/ci_18417878?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com

    It sounds like a fun thing to work on. Why not write a business plan for the hell of it?

    I feel like I am supposed to tell you not to do it, but I want you to do it.

    Dear Maggie,
    I have never commented before, but I have to now: This idea is awesome! And everything, literally everything, that you described how you want the cafe to be, actually exists in my neighbourhood in Berlin - there are even sereral places like this, and there are more and more new ones opening! So I can say from experience, these cafes are THE RESCUE when you need to get out of the house with a baby or toddler on a rainy day or just meet a friend who lives further away and need a place in the middle to meet. The whole cafes are playgrounds, some cafes even feature many sofas with lots of pillows instead of chairs, so you can sit there and nurse a baby. They have all kinds of baby food, of course (and yes, organic;-)), besides all kinds of cafe and tea as well as cake and snacks for the moms. Most of these cafes also offer some sort of courses for parents and babies, and one even offers massages for tired moms. They also organize birthday parties - how convenient is that? And all in all, they provide just want you said you wanted: A comfy, warm place that feels welcoming to parent of babies and/or small kids and where both parents and kids can do their thing.

    You can see some pictures here:

    http://freundblase.piekar.de/?page_id=5

    http://www.cafe-ballon-berlin.de/galerie/

    http://www.cafe-zuckerschnute.de/index.php?id=992

    All this to say, your ideas are spot-on!

    And by the way, I love reading your blog - all of it.

    As much as the idea itself sounds brilliant, from my own lazy person's viewpoint, it sounds like SO MUCH WORK THAT WILL NEVER EVER END.

    What about doing a trial go at it by using a community space that exists already? Maybe a Church hall, community hall (many of these places already have equipped kitchens). Then add some of your personalized touches - like comfy furniture, coffee, treats, kid-friendly art station or toys. If you put an ad on craigslist about your idea to create this space for moms and young children, I bet you'd be surprised how quickly you'd have more than enough stuff to fill your space.

    I think it sounds like an amazing idea!

    You could offer some sort of entertainment (Kids musician with guitar, etc.) one day a week or more. There's a restaurant here in Northern Virginia that has kids acts on Wednesday mornings at 10 and charges a small fee to patrons and it is really quite awesome. I think the entertainers do it pretty cheaply because they get to hand out their cards and advertise to the families for kids' parties, etc.

    We used to own a family business, back when I first started blogging. Working with my father-in-law made me really dislike him. HOWEVER, working with my husband and a friend was just fine. But, you know, just something to consider.

    Oh yeah and I forgot to mention I've joined the blogging world! Check out my blog called Mom on a Mission at kelsisandefur.blogspot.com! :)

    Okay, so these places are a little far from you, and therefore would be of no competition whatsoever but could maybe give some inspiration?Field trip to the Village Bean in Bothell, as I think it comes close to your vision of the atmosphere you are after with the whole place being kid friendly and adult friendly as well as a place your 4-year-old could be safe for 5 min. while you order something. Next, a field trip to Revelations Frozen Yogurt in Edmonds, as it is sort of an outreach to local moms. They have a meeting room where they host a story time and offer it for FREE if you want to have a moms type meeting or birthday party there! It's all in the name of research after all...

    I love this idea! Keep on thinkin' girl.

    This idea sounds like such a nice break for parents and kids. The websites Katrin posted are awesome...wish we had a place like this where I live!

    The coffee shop I go to here is not kid-friendly at all--no high chairs even. So if I attempt to take my kids, it's very hard to find a place for them to sit still. I'm just asking for trouble.

    On the other hand, I take my kids to a play n learn, which is very fun for kids, but only about 1 chair in the whole room for one adult to sit down. The rest of us stand around or sit on the floor (which isn't all bad, since it prompts us to play with our kiddos). But the option would be nice.

    The key would be a place that would be comfortable for both kids & adults. I know that MOPS groups at churches typically have both places for kids to play & tables for adults to congregate.

    Maybe you could try your idea out in a church basement, where there is extra room:
    -virtually free for you to rent
    -you could start out a few times a week in the morning (T/Th or M/W/F) 9am-1pm?
    -have a place set up in a corner of the room/basement where you could brew coffee/drinks and cater food in 3 times a week.

    Just a few ideas; then you could try it out for little cost & no contract.

    Maggie, I want to say I totally think you should do this but all I can say is YOU ARE COMING TO DC OMG I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    so, not sure if this is what you had in mind. Its got coffee and kids, so freaking adorable. But hopefully it will inspire you.

    http://www.meetatgather.com/

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