How to start a SMALL business and sail off into the sunset
Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Being a small business owner in Hawaii, I am uniquely positioned to meet other small business owners here on the island. Partnerships are a huge part of what makes Vida work and I am proud to say there is a community forming around the boat. A large part of that is thanks to the folks at Honolulu Coffee Company.
My first official "collab" was with what came to be my favorite coffee shop here on the islands. I have been a die hard coffee addict since I was 12. I hail from Massachusetts, so better believe I was raised on Dunkin Donuts or "Dunks" as we affectionately like to call our beloved coffee shop. Eventually I rose through the ranks and found myself enjoying the elegant, sophisticated pour overs from Equator Coffee and Wrecking Ball in San Francisco... And in Honolulu, after trying out a few other coffee makers, I found myself a home at Honolulu Coffee Company.
I love any place in Honolulu with high ceilings. I quickly became a daily patron. The Experience Center has free parking, it never felt crowded and I could always get a seat. I probably went there almost every single day for a year before I worked up the nerve to pitch my coffee cruise idea.
I took a chance one day and asked the counter person who (by this time had my order memorized) if they did catering. I was hoping to get special pricing if we purchased the coffee wholesale. I must confess my primary motivation was having coffee on the boat for myself. One week later I was introduced to Christian Beall, who then introduced me to Abigail Joslyn, their CEO.
When I first met Abigail she looked a but surprised. She started by sharing a story. Just that past weekend she said to herself on the beach that she really needs to find a friend with a boat. She even did some sort of manifest mantra. We made a joke about manifesting things, but this was no coincidence. A day later the owner of the only antique wooden yacht in Hawaii asks her to serve coffee on it? Nothing in this world happens by mistake.
I knew I liked Abigail right away. We had the same satirical sense of humor, had both spent time living in New York and both cared a lot about creating a healthy work environment such as being solution oriented and creating experiences outside of work that had an impact on our employee's well-being.
After just one year, her crew and ours are like family. Honolulu Coffee Company employs about 100 people and we have around 20 on our payroll. We cruise out a few times a year with the team and invite along their families. Meeting the children and significant others of the crew is definitely one of the perks.
Partnerships are such a great part of what we do, and it's really more of what makes Hawaii a home for many of us. A lot of us traveled long distances to make this place our home and despite the beautiful weather, we all get homesick sometimes. I like to think these nights make things a little easier for the folks on our staff that just moved here. We invite new staff to experience the boat. Both myself and Abigail try our best to make all of our employees feel at home on Vida Mia. Family members, significant others, partners and pets welcome.
These times allow us to take a pause and see the island from a new vantage point. I am always reminded how far I traveled to get here, how incredible of a journey I had in my own life that brought me here and of course, how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who feel like family.
We picked a pretty nice night to enjoy the sunset with the Honolulu Coffee Company crew. It was a glassy day on the water topped with pink cotton candy skies.
Here are some photos from our first sunset cruise:
Kim Pacenka, Gillian Perdido & Christy Herring enjoying the beautiful night sky.
Sean works at the experience center located right in Waikiki.
Having a friend with a boat is better than owning one. If they are friends like Abigail, I'll be that friend any day of the week. This is a photo of Abigail and her Chihuahua, Mags.
Abigail cruising with her crew in Waikiki.
You can often find the Honolulu Coffee Company Team piling into the Suebrew van for a morning surf session before work. Not a bad "perk."
Fun fact. It wasn't until months later that I found out Abigail opened up Magnolia Bakery in New York, which if you don't know, was the bakery responsible for starting the cupcake craze of the early 2000s thanks to Sarah Jessica parker eating on on Sex in the City. I happened to live on the Lower East Side at the time when I was going to law school - another coincidence. There's a legendary SNL Short called "Lazy Sunday" that was put out around this time if you are looking for a laugh.
Me, my mom and my sister (before we discovered Honolulu Coffee Company). Cruising before Hawaii means swinging into Dunks and buying scratch tickets. I had better luck moving to Hawaii and buying a boat.