Feb 16, 2021 • 48M

Building a Staple Business with Shanelle County of Standard Pour

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Ashley Rodriguez
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“It’s almost five o’clock, and Darlene and I just realized we haven’t even eaten today. It’s been such a wonderful day, such a busy day, but we’ve just been constantly in motion that we didn’t even stop to eat.”

The person you just heard was Shanelle County, co-founder of Standard Pour, a new coffee shop in Valley Stream, Long Island. Shanelle reached out to me just a few weeks before the soft opening of her business, and I asked her to capture some snippets from those early days of its existence—the moments of excitement, struggle, and gratitude as they happened in real time.

The story of how Shanelle’s business came to be spans just a few weeks in the summer of 2020, starting from the very first time her cousin and business partner Darlene posed the idea to the day Standard Pour opened its doors. Throughout this experience, Shanelle has contended with all types of new feelings, many of which we document in this episode.

“It’s been about a week since the grand opening. And I think things finally feel like normal. Yes, it’s like we finally could think about the business and how it runs day-to-day.

In our first month so much has happened, and it was like the first hurdle was getting to the soft opening and then from the soft opening to the grand opening and all the things we wanted between the two end points. It’s actually kind of funny to see, to even think about how much we’ve had to take our vision and stick with the vision, but pivot during the process. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s been fun.”

I’m always interested in the moments we remember and the ones we forget, and the unreliability of memory. I wanted this episode to be about Shanelle, and also to paint a portrait of a distinct chapter in her life. When I mentioned this idea to Shanelle, she was gracious enough with her time to capture fleeting impressions and experiences—some from her, and some from customers—during the grand opening.

The result is both a traditional interview—we recorded this conversation just as Shanelle was closing up shop one day in December 2020, and you might catch the hum of refrigerators behind her—and also features clips from both Shanelle and customers of the shop scattered throughout.

I hope you enjoy this one-of-a-kind episode. Think of it as an interview with an incredible new business owner, but also as a meditation on memory. Here’s Shanelle.

Ashley: To kick things off Shanelle, can I have you introduce yourself?

Shanelle: Yes, I am Shanelle. I am one of the owners of Standard Pour.

Ashley: And can you tell me where you are right now?

Shanelle: I'm in the shop right now. We've closed our doors for the day—we close at 5 p.m. So I'm just hanging out here in the shop with you, Ashley.

Ashley: I am so excited to have this conversation with you because we had a pre-conversation, and I felt so much of your energy and your excitement. I want to walk through what it was like to open Standard Pour, because you're still really in the thick of it. So how long has Standard Pour been open as of today, which is December 3rd?

Shanelle: We opened our doors on October 15th. That is approximately six weeks—I want to say six weeks as of yesterday, because today is a Friday. That's how long our doors have been open.

Ashley: I want to talk about some of these really early moments of opening, because I feel like we don't often get to capture them in real time. Often we reflect back on the good old days of, “We were not sleeping at all and it's just starting and blah, blah, blah…” But we don't really get to sit and catalogue those moments.

So I was wondering if you could walk me through—we're going to do a little bit of time-hopping here—but I was wondering if you could walk me through the night before the doors opened for the first time. How did you feel?

Shanelle: So it was an interesting experience because I assumed that the night before we opened, I would feel pure bliss, pure excitement. But you're so in the moment of things that need to get done or need to be done in order to have the opening that you envision, that you didn’t even get to stop to think about that.

So the night before, literally, or the day before, I remember stressing out, I remember calling Darlene and saying, “Well, maybe we shouldn't fully open up doors. Maybe we should do like this…”

She said, “No, we're going to open. You have to open. It's going to be fine. How can I ease your mind?” But I say all that to say that we were doing work in the store, we wanted to make sure things were organized. So we had a lot of cleaning to do and a lot of running around just to make sure we had the materials that we needed for the next day, so that when our friends and family showed up for that soft opening, that we were able to really serve them in a way that we felt would represent us and the business positively.

And so it was a long night. [Laughs] We were tired. Definitely, probably went to bed after 2 a.m. the next morning. But at the same time it was like, I could never pretend like this experience didn't happen. I can never, never not be grateful for it because it's like, when in life do you get to go through this? And the reason that we're going through it is because we're opening our own business. So that part of it is the exciting part of the experience. But in the moment it felt very stressful.

Ashley: I’m sure! Let's jump back a little bit, and by a little bit, I mean a little bit because you and Darlene, who's your business partner and your cousin, opened Standard Pour in about two months. Is that right?

Shanelle: Absolutely. That is 100% correct.

Ashley: So what was that first conversation like with Darlene when—I believe she presented this idea of, “Let's open a business!”

Shanelle: Yes. So I would say maybe the end of June, early July—so both of us live in Valley Stream where Standard Pour is located, and we live five minutes apart, if even that much, but definitely within walking distance of each other. So she would come over, especially because it was summertime. So it was nice outside and she would walk over.

And I remember us sitting and talking, and she's like, “Girl, I need to have a business. I need to open a business on Rockaway Avenue. There’s many opportunities here and it's time to have a business.”

So I took that opportunity to say, “Hey, me too, I'm very interested. You want to do something together? Like I am 100% into it.” I've had all these ideas over time. We’ve talked through so many different business ideas that we think or thought would be good for the area.

And so we said, “Okay, you do this work, I'll do this work. We'll come back together in about a week and see where we are.” And a week came and a week went because we are also working full time in our jobs—and we still are, by the way—as well as just life is happening.

So I remember reaching out to her saying, “Hey, I know I was supposed to follow up about X, Y, and Z, but I've been busy. I'll get to it.”

She said, “Same here. I understand how it is.”

About a week later she sends me a text. I remember seeing the text come through, but I couldn't read it at the moment. And then she calls me and she said, “Hey, did you see my text?”

And I said “Yeah, but I didn't get a chance to open it.”

She said, “No, open it.”

The coffee shop that was really renowned in the neighborhood had closed their doors maybe a few weeks prior. They closed at the end of June. And they were in Valley Stream for nine years and they were definitely well loved, well received. People were very sad to see them close their doors. But at the same time, the space went up for lease—a “For Lease” sign went up in the window. So when we saw that, we said, “Wow, this is an amazing opportunity to bring a coffee shop back.”

Because like I said, it was well received, and people were sad to see a coffee shop go—their space to hang out, to do work was no longer available. So she suggested to me, “What if we kept it as a coffee shop? But we also add a wine bar.”

I said, “Oh my gosh, that's a really cool idea,” because I really wanted to open a wine bar.

And so we said, “Okay, let's put an application in and see what happens.” And this was maybe a Wednesday or Thursday. We got approved for application by Friday and the rest is history. And that was the end of July.

Ashley: That’s wild.

Shanelle: We've been on a rollercoaster ride, a whirlwind of a ride since then.

Customer: “I am so absolutely proud to be here. The ambiance is to die for. I tell everybody, ‘Come and check it out.’ This is a place you want to be.”

Ashley: That's wild to think that happened so quickly, because you hear of other coffee shops taking months, years. And it seems like within maybe what, 10 days, you went from Darlene coming up to you and saying, “I have to open a business,” to, “Oh, we have a lease. We're doing this.”

Shanelle: Exactly. And that's exactly what I said! “This is really happening. Okay!”

Ashley: It seems like the story of Standard Pour is a lot of those happenstance moments, those moments of kismet, where you meet somebody that you tell your story to, and they're like, “Oh, I'm a baker,” or “I'm a contractor,” or something like that. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about those two months and how things sort of fell into place for you.

Shanelle: We had to hit the ground running doing research. What are the things that we need to open a coffee shop? What does it take to open a coffee shop? Understanding third-wave coffee and the importance of it, because we knew we didn't want to just have the regular [coffee] experience based on who we are and what we represent. We wanted more.

I remember we found this long list of like, “What do you need to open a business in New York State,” and going through this list. Literally that's the list that we worked off of—from figuring out what inspections we needed, what things we had to have in this space to make sure that it's safe, every … what is it? I dunno what to say. It's not a bureau, but every…

Ashley: I think that's right, some sort of government organization has to approve stuff that exactly, that we have to be in contact with for approval.

Shanelle: Exactly. [What bureaus] that we have to be in contact with for approval, knowing what our village requires for us to be able to open our doors—and then knowing what we wanted the shop to look like, how would we get it to transform? And then building out a timeline to get that done and then everything else in between.

What are we going to have to eat? Who's going to cook? What's the menu going to look like? Where's our coffee gonna come from? What are our hours—everything under the sun we were just thinking about in real time at all times, and it didn’t stop. And it's like, “We need to think about this. We need to think about this.”

As you said, how we met everyone who has worked with us has been amazing. The way I met the baker … I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but I had gone to another coffee shop …

Ashley: You’re allowed to go to other coffee shops.

Shanelle: It was very early in the morning. I'm working remotely right now due to COVID, but I was starting my work day. So I wanted to get a cup of coffee before my day started. And I walked into the shop, but I was like, “How is somebody already in here? If the shop just opened, I didn't see anyone walking through, I'm the first customer.”

So I'm speaking to the barista about the options for pastries. And he's like, “Oh yeah, meet our baker.”

I said, “This is your baker?” And then I started speaking to her and I was like, “Oh, hi, nice to meet you.” And the energy that we exchanged was amazing.

And I said, “You know what? I am actually looking for a baker.” I didn't go into much detail, and we exchanged information. When I eventually was able to speak to her at another point in time, everything that she was able to do is everything that we were looking for.

She'd sampled her scones for us, her cranberry orange scones, which is a staple on our menu right now, we were like, “Oh my god, this is amazing.”

We can't make this stuff up. Like, how does a baker just land in your lap who also bakes really well? So that's Warberry Cakes. Her name is Odetta. So that was just an amazing experience of how that came to be.

Even with our contractor, we talked to different firms and we knew exactly what we wanted. We had an idea for the space, how we wanted to transform this space. And then I remember a contracting company coming in and we walked through everything we wanted to do from top to bottom. And the quote we got back was insane. We're like, “Wait, what? How is this small business supposed to pay for that?”

And I remember having a moment of stress and I remember Darlene saying, “What's going to happen?”

But this is how you learn to appreciate the people in your life and your friends. Because she had a friend came in to put up our emergency lights. And when he came, he brought another friend with him who he also works with. In talking to that friend, he said, “My father does work.”

And I don't know how, Ashley, I wasn't even the one who had the conversation with him. Darlene was, and once she told me the story, I said, “Darlene, I have a feeling that this is going to work out.”

So his dad, his name is Alex, is the one who did all the work on the space for us. I mean, honestly, in a way that has been affordable for us, in a way that has been manageable for us. He brought so many ideas to the table that have been so helpful to what we've envisioned that you can't make this stuff up.

Then the same friend with the floodlights, and the son [of the contractor], and some other friends that Darlene has painted the entire space for us. And so again, if we had to go to a large company for that, it would have just been a different experience. The type of care that they put into it—because they know it's for friends, and they're very good at what they do. If I told someone, “This is how everything fell into place,” I wouldn't be making it up, you know? I don't know if people will believe—I mean, people do believe it, but it's just very hard to believe that it wasn't harder in getting us started.

Ashley: I think that there's a power to everything you just said—of just saying things out loud and not necessarily knowing that the community can meet your need because maybe they can't, but you never really know, right? Until you say it out loud.

So having these conversations with members of your community, it totally makes sense that people would come out of the woodwork who you maybe didn't know and were like, “Actually I do this,” or “Actually I do that,” which is incredible. And I'm a big proponent of just saying things out loud because you never know what will happen. This is the perfect example of that actually happening and working out really well.

Shanelle: 100%. I'm a big believer of manifesting great things and that they will come and recognizing that we deserve these things. So it's not like it shouldn't come our way, right? And I think that oftentimes, you expect life to be extremely hard at all times, or to think about opening a business, or the idea of opening a business, it just seems like an insurmountable task. And now that I'm here, I'm like, “It's not impossible.” It definitely is challenging. It has a lot of stresses that come with it, but nothing that I would trade in at the moment for having this business. So yeah.

Ashley: I wanted to ask you about, because we're talking about things moving so quickly and we're talking about how everything sort of fell into place, but you were also really careful about the decisions you made. You didn't just go into partnerships with vendors without carefully considering, “Who is this person, and why do I want to work with them?” So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that process of making decisions, because I imagine there must have been a lot of pressure to move quickly, but you also want to keep the integrity of the space and keep the integrity of your view.

Shanelle: Absolutely. While we had a very short turnaround time opening our doors, we still knew that we weren't just going into business to make quick money.

To have this opportunity as two young Black woman is very important to us. And what was more important is that the message that we show or send, the experience that we cultivate, represents that—that we are about supporting other Black-owned businesses, supporting other women, supporting locally, because we are from Long Island, we are from Valley Stream—and then about quality across the board.

The biggest partnership we have is with our roaster, right? We are a coffee shop and in making that selection, we had a few—maybe five roasters on the table that we were interested in. And then naturally those that fell off the table fell off the table on their own.

So we were down to two roasters; one was local to Long Island. And the other is who our roaster is—Counter Culture Coffee. We really took time beyond going to tastings and cuppings. Once we did our research about how the beans are sourced and all those things, making sure that it's ethically done, it became a question of where do we see an opportunity to really do well as a small business, as women, as Black women.

And recognizing that, “Hey, listen, Counter Culture Coffee is not a Black-owned business. Counter Culture Coffee is a corporate business, a white-owned business,” but that doesn't mean that we don't and cannot support and make sure that this partnership can work well on both ends, right?

I'm a firm believer in life that everyone has an opportunity to choose. So as much as we were choosing them for everything that they had to offer, they are also choosing to work with us. It has been a wonderful experience to date. So definitely no regrets there. Then the coffee's delicious, it’s amazing. That partnership was very important to us.

Then meeting our baker, Odetta with Warberry Cakes, she is local to Valley Stream. She is a woman. She is a Black woman. Fancy Confections, her name is Lady Ashley. She makes our desserts and she really tries to pair our desserts to match our specialty drinks.

Right now we have a white chocolate pistachio blondie that matches our pistachio rose chocolate latte on our menu, which is actually really cool. And then she just bought this week these eggnog cupcakes with these gingerbread men, which is really fun because we have a specialty latte called Ponche de Crème.

And I'm kind of going off course here…

Ashley: No, I’m into it.

Shanelle: But this is also important to us as cousins, Darlene and I—our family is from Trinidad and Tobago, which is in the Caribbean. And another part of our vision was to make sure that we are honoring our culture through our menu as much as we can. So while we're not a Caribbean restaurant, we want to make sure we're infusing our Caribbean flavors where we can.

So the Ponche de Crème latte is a December special because Ponche de Crème is a creamy drink. If you want it to compare it, it's similar to eggnog, it’s similar to Coquito, but it is typically an alcohol-based drink with milk and spices. We're building our latte on that concept. It doesn't have alcohol, but it has everything else. And so Ashley built the cupcake to go along with that latte. And Darlene had already worked with her in the past, and once again a Black-woman-based business. So that's…

Oh my god, I can't believe it! Our tea! So as much research as we put into getting coffee, we put in that same research for our tea. And so we landed on Brooklyn Tea and they're local, they're Brooklyn-based, which is in New York. They're also a Black-owned business, a Black couple. Jamila has been amazing to work with, but Brooklyn Tea, what really stood out to us was that the teas smell amazing.

All of their teas are loose-leaf teas. It's just a wonderful palate experience. To be able to carry Brooklyn Tea in our store is an honor for us. We really took a lot of their styling—so when you go into their store in Brooklyn, they have their teas in these small glass jars, where customers are able to smell the tea and really see the ingredients and the benefits of the tea. We did a similar setup.

We did some glass jars as well, and we have the labels that tell you what's in each tea. You get to smell the tea if you'd like, and then customers love waiting because they could see their tea steeping and pulling all the flavors out of the leaves, as opposed to quickly throwing in a teabag and you're on your way, if that's how you want it. If you're in a rush, you may absolutely get it that way. So that's really just a quick bit on some of our vendors.

Customer: “Get some of this! I had the salmon—the smoked salmon, avocado toast to die for. I got to take a picture with the chef and [turns to partner] which one is this? Pistachio—pistachio chocolate, rose chocolate. It was recommended. Everybody needs to get a cup!”

And I can't forget our chef. So our chef is Dwayne Daniel, and his assistant chef or sous chef is Raya Alleyne. Again, this is how things have just happened in this process:

One morning I'm getting ready to work remotely and open my laptop. And I'm like, “Gosh, we need someone to cook. We need a chef. We need a chef. Where are we going to get a chef?”

And it hit me: “I know somebody, I know someone who cooks.” And I called him, I reached out to him—actually, I didn't have his number. I reached out to a friend who had his number. I said, “Hey, I want to reach out to him. I know he cooks. Can I get his number?”

So I reached out to him and he was on board from the inception. The beauty of it is that we were able to sit down the three of us, he, Darlene, and myself, and really talk about what we wanted the menu to look like and the flavors that we wanted to come out with. He said, “As long as you allow me to be creative, it will be great.”

When I tell you the timeline was tight, we had all these plans for a tasting and everything—that never happened. It was showtime. Since day one, everyone has raved about everything on the menu. So kudos to Dwayne for really holding the kitchen down and to Raya for doing an amazing job with him.

Ashley: That's so cool. It's really incredible to see how proud you are of the vendors that you feature, which seems of like an obvious statement—that you would be proud of the people that you feature—but it's not always a given, especially if you're not clear on your vision.

If you're not like, “I want to do things with intention and I want to do things well and I want to give care to the things that I decide to put in this coffee shop,” which is really incredible. I want to talk a little bit about that first day that you opened. We kind of did a little bit of time jumping—we went from the night before you opened, then we talked about some of the time before that, and now we're at that first opening day.

I was wondering if you could talk about some of the feelings you felt as you saw your friends and family come in and experience the space that you've built.

Shanelle: Yes, it's surreal. I'm talking about our soft opening, which was in October, but then when I think about the same feelings, it was very similar to our grand opening day, which was November 14th, so just about a month later.

I had to take a moment—I don't cry in front of people, but it was an emotional moment to recognize that all these people are here to support us. They didn't just happen to walk by [and say], “Oh, there's a coffee shop. This is cool.” They're here to support Darlene and myself, and they want to see us grow. They want to see us thrive. And on top of that, as your friends and family, they'll always support you. To know that they love the products that you're putting out is really even more amazing.

They’re not saying that just to say that. Because they’re family and they’re our friends, they are very candid. Our family is very real. They'll tell you in a second if something needs improvement and while we appreciate that, and that's what we wanted from the soft opening, that real feedback, they just genuinely were happy to be here to support us.

So the feeling that I have, it's hard to put into words, but just to know that people are here to celebrate you is amazing. And as I was telling you in our pre-conversation, I'm very modest. I have my friends telling other people, “You know, she opened a coffee shop!” because I wouldn't talk about it. I know that it might not be the best for business. But you need [your friends and family] in these moments and you need to recognize that and be grateful. And for me, to know in those moments that these people are here because they love us and they support us and they want to see us do well, is just amazing.

“Today is our grand opening. And I don't know, I think I've just taken putting out the pastries under my wings since our soft opening. And so I'm very particular about it every time. If I'm able to, I will always put them out, but today we have so many pastries.

We have gluten-free, we have vegan. Plus we have our usual basic goods by Warberry Cakes and Fancy Confections. It's so much, and this is taking so long to put out—it's like an hour, but it looks so good. These new display … not cases, but they're like nice slate with some glass domes. So I'm really excited about it because it's like an upgrade from what we've been using. So this is exciting. Plus, we have these risers, but my goodness it’s taking so long.”

Ashley: I think you talked earlier in this conversation about how smooth the process was of opening, and you talked about deserving it. [There’s] this perception that it's a business and it's supposed to be hard and you almost go into this moment of self doubt. “Can I do this or do I even deserve this?”

Recognizing that, “Yes, I do deserve it. It is okay if this is easy, because I'm allowed this. It doesn't always have to be hard.” I imagine some of those similar feelings must have come when you opened your doors. And even afterwards when you're talking about maybe not talking as much about the coffee shop.

I wonder, since you described yourself as a very modest person, I wonder if this experience has changed anything about you. It doesn't just have to be about modesty, but one of the things I wrote down before we hopped on this call was that you're a subtle perfectionist. And you talked a little bit about learning flexibility. So I was wondering throughout this process, like, how have you seen yourself change?

Shanelle: It's definitely been a challenge in that sense. I've never thought of myself as a perfectionist. I'm always that person that can see things from multiple perspectives and understand that things will always go as planned, et cetera, et cetera … but I never realize how hard I am on myself.

When I'm putting out something, it has to look and feel a certain way. Darlene and I knew what our vision was, we knew what we wanted our space to look like. And she already has a business of her own. She’s gone through these experiences before. This is my first time. And even though her business is very different from Standard Pour, she knew what it meant to own your business, to be an entrepreneur and knowing how to pivot and think on your feet in the moment.

So I'm a person that like, I need the structure. We have to have a schedule. This is what every week is going to look like. We going to meet at this time every week. And if we say we're going to do A,B,C, it has to look like A, B, and C.

Going through this process, I've learned to recognize that you might not even ever get to A or A may look like A and a half, whatever that may mean. I've had to learn to know that I don't have to sacrifice or compromise the integrity of what I want to do, nor the quality of it, but I have to be able to change from what I originally planned, because circumstances just offer themselves up differently and being able to be flexible in those moments and to pivot in those moments is what will allow me to be more successful.

I've been able to do that—such that from the soft opening to the grand opening, the anxiety that I had before the soft opening was definitely different from the grand opening. Learning to relax more and be in the moment more, knowing that we have put in the work.

Like you said before, and I've said before, we deserve to have this experience and it's okay. Where we want to see the shop, it will come, and we are working towards that. But it'll come how it's supposed to happen. I can't make it happen or control the things that I cannot control and embracing that and allowing that to be.

Customer: “I must say congratulations, Darlene and Shanelle—you’ve done an awesome job. For putting my cafe in a beautiful neighborhood. The food is truly delicious. The ambiance is breathtaking! All the best, enjoy, and continue to grow with the business. Love you girls.”

Ashley: So you have the soft opening—that's when you have your friends and your family coming to check out the place and you get this outpouring of love and support, which is incredible. And then you have the grand opening, which is about a month later, which welcomes a different subset of people, people in the neighborhood, people who are excited to see the coffee shop open again.

I was wondering what it was like to get feedback from people that you didn't know. What was it like when you started hearing from other folks about what Standard Pour meant to them or their experiences there?

Shanelle: Man, that's the wildest part of all of this, right? Because like I said, your friends and family that had to show up for you, they'll always support you, but for strangers to have such amazing things to say, that's just the wildest part.

I know myself and I will show up as the same person in every entity of my life. So I'm genuine to people, but you don't always expect that [from others]. Why would you care about us, you know? While it's very important to us to cultivate an amazing customer service experience, the way our customers have been so genuine, have been so excited to see our the success, so excited to see us in the neighborhood to have another coffee shop that they can come to, that they can sit at and they can work and then to enjoy our coffee, our food, I mean the positive feedback is amazing.

I remember the grand opening date. So we have one customer, her name is Crystal. I remember meeting Crystal because once we opened for our soft opening, we would [stay] open there after, but what we would do is every week, we’d slowly roll out new menu items, try new things, see how they would be received until we got to our grand opening where our menu for our coffee bar is pretty much set.

I met Crystal, Crystal has so much energy. So amazing, ready to see our success on day one, she shows up the day of the grand opening with a bouquet of flowers, like, “Shanelle, oh my god, congratulations!”

And I'm like, “What? Thank you, Crystal—it’s 7, 8 o'clock in the morning. So you thought about us. You thought about me to go and buy flowers to come and say, ‘Here, congratulations on your grand opening.’” And so it's things like that that you can't make up.

We've had so many positive reviews and experiences and even if something doesn't go the way that we would have liked or the way a customer would have liked the way that they reach out to us and tell us about it has been so kind. You don't always get that in this day and age, people are so quick to go and slander, and you don't just see things from one perspective.

And [customers have] been so kind to say, “My customer service experience was this, but this also is something else that I experienced that could be better.” And obviously, our immediate response is to make sure that they're satisfied, but even in that realm, to get negative—I don't want to call it negative—to get feedback in such a positive light has just been amazing.

Ashley: What does it mean for you and your cousin who are from Valley Stream, who are women, who are Black women, to open this business here, now, where you are?

Shanelle: I think what it means is so much greater than many people can imagine.

As Black people to be able to open this business that's patronized by everyone is, first and foremost, something you can only dream of. That's when you get to the point in your life where you realized you do deserve these things. Because as much as I have wanted a business …. it's not that it seems unattainable, but it did seem unattainable.

And so now to be here, it means so much more than just, “I have a business around the corner from my house.” It sets a precedent. It sets an example. It creates an opportunity for our family. It creates an opportunity for our community. It's bigger than just the coffee shop. It has so much more meaning. It is now part of our legacy.

Opening this business is more than just a coffee shop for us. For us it’s a message. For us, it's a dream come true. And for us, it proves to Darlene and I that we could do this. So this is just the beginning and that's literally what it is for us. Only the beginning.

Ashley: Why did you want to open a business? I'm curious to know more about that.

Shanelle: Me personally, I don't want to work for someone else for the rest of my life, but I think bigger than that, we wanted to open a business to have something of our own, to have something, to keep in the family. And, like I mentioned before, to be able to create an opportunity for other people like ourselves and to create an opportunity in our own neighborhood.

To be able to do all those things, we didn't have to go to another town. We're from here and to have this opportunity here, we want a business because we know what we want to offer to people. We know what we want to experience. And so to be able to create that vision and make it come to life—why not?

Ashley: We touched on a lot of different themes, but I think the one that was maybe the most unexpected to me—which I'm excited about, this is why I love interviewing—is this idea of deserving and worth. And knowing that I do deserve these things, no matter how easy or hard they come. I'm wondering, as you're sitting here in this coffee shop, I'm interviewing you while you're sitting there after the doors are closed, what does it feel like to look around and think, “I built this. This happened because me and my cousin had an idea and it is here. It is physically here.”

Shanelle: I don't know if I've actually sat in that yet. I don't think I've really sat in it. I'm 100% grateful. I show gratitude every day. I have my affirmations. I say my prayers. I don't know if I know the magnitude of what we have here just yet.

And I say that because it's still unbelievable. I can't believe it, and then it's so funny. We've also been blessed with a great staff, great resources, great servers. And they sit there and say, “Well, you know, Shanelle, you're my boss. Darlene, you guys are my bosses.”

And I'm like, “Wait, what, I'm your boss?” While I do hold a leadership position in my career, it's still like, “Wow, this is mine. This is mine.” So even when we're stressing over the things behind the scenes, you're like, “We have no one to turn to. This is ours,” but I'm sitting here like, “This is my business. It doesn't belong to someone else. It's not for someone else, it's for us.”

I think this is a transition period in my life because all my life in all my jobs it's for someone else. When I was a child, when I was young, I'm working towards pleasing my parents and then working towards getting my education and creating a career for myself. And then I go and I work for someone else.

While I value all the work that I have done in my life to bring me to this place, and the work that I'm still doing, it's like—now is the time. Now is my time. Now is our time. And this belongs to us. So that's an amazing experience.

You don't even realize the example that you set for other people. And so even for staff, who for the majority, we've known for the six weeks, or it's actually seven weeks that we've been open, the value that we are to them is amazing. And I'm not saying that from a standpoint of overconfidence or anything, but just to know and recognize the example that we set for them and how powerful that is.

Ashley: The idea that this is possible for them.

Shanelle: Right. And I think another part of it is they know our vision and I think they are excited to be part of that and they want to see us do well as well.

Ashley: We’ve done a lot of time-hopping in this. We started with the night before you opened, we talked about planning Standard Pour—so let's bring it to the future. What do you hope the future looks like for you?

Shanelle: The future of Standard Pour? I look forward to how we blossom. I look forward to how we become a full thriving business, with our wine bar, with our brunch. A bustling space for everyone to just come and enjoy working here, eating here, hanging out here.

I'm just excited to see us become a staple. Everyone talks about Standard Pour, but now they're not talking about us as the new business in town, but rather a place where they can always come to and feel comfortable and look forward to being here. And we know everybody by name. We wanted to be like “Cheers” in the sense that everyone knows your name and everyone feels comfortable when they come.

And then we also just love the fact that we could bring a little bit of ourselves out in this business. For myself, or for Darlene and I, I think the future holds a lot for us when it comes to knowing that we did this—so where are we going to take ourselves [next]? Our dreams have now been just taken further. So it's like, “Okay, we attained this goal. We showed ourselves that we're able to put in the work and the follow-through to attain this goal. So how much work can we do and how much more can we do together?”

Ashley: Is there anything else that you want people to know about you or about Standard Pour?

Shanelle: We're here to stay. We're looking forward to the longevity of our business and we’re looking forward to creating and stamping our identity for everyone. And we hope that they'll enjoy it.

“Woohoo! That's a wrap folks. Grand opening is a success.”

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