Carlos Sims Jr. of Happy Home Coffee Roasters on Moments of Action

  
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Life is especially hard right now. We’re in the ninth month of a global pandemic, the days are getting shorter and colder and darker, and the dread of the current moment can sometimes feel paralyzing. Against that backdrop, how do you take a step forward in any direction—and how do you know if that step is right?

The short answer is that, even though you can’t know the results before you start moving, taking a step in any direction is often enough to shake something loose. Carlos Sims Jr. believes in action—in forward motion, in building momentum, and in taking steps to actualize the vision of the world he wants to create.

Carlos’ enterprising attitude is not without consideration. He’s the owner of Happy Home Coffee Roasters, a business centered around his identity as a family man. His children are on the bags of coffee beans, his family proudly displayed on the company’s homepage. He’s had to make a lot of careful decisions about who he is and how he wants to share his story, eschewing trends or fears about what’s “cool” to create a business that feels true to him.

Carlos is a fanny-pack-touting, minivan-driving dad, and you’ll hear us talk about what it means to be your authentic self. We spend this episode swapping stories, waxing poetic about the less-than-glamorous aspects of a shared childhood in Florida (him in Jacksonville, me in Miami), and talking a lot about action. We also discuss how to make your dreams and projects tangible. Risk is scary, life is uncertain, but the exciting thing about action—about taking a step in any direction—is the guarantee that something, that change, is about to happen.


Ashley: Carlos, I was wondering if you could describe where you are right now.

Carlos: I am in Jacksonville, Florida, the home of where my coffee journey began.

Ashley: Is that the official banner that you see as you leave the airport? (laughs)

Carlos: (laughs) I'm not that important.

Ashley: I remember, just because you’ve lived in Florida too—so I feel like this is Florida people talking Florida, but when that Will Smith song came out, every time you’d go to the airport, you’d see like this big banner that said, “Welcome to Miami.”

Carlos: Yeah. That's so funny. Big Willie Style. I had that on cassette. That’s so fun.

Ashley: I think I had that on CD, but that might’ve been one of the very first CDs I ever bought. Like, I bought it for myself because I was an “independent kid” and I was like, “Yeah, I'm buying this.”

Are you drinking anything right now?

Carlos: Just had some coffee and right now I’m drinking some water. I’m trying to get better at that. My wife gets on me all the time. So yeah, trying to. It’s actually nice natural Florida spring water too. So Zephyrhills, shout out.

Ashley: I do love that Zephyrhills. Oh my God—I miss Florida so much, which is a phrase I never thought I’d say as often as I say.

Carlos: You know, we were driving down the beach the other day—we were social distancing and so we had a little car picnic in the car down near the beach and I was telling my wife, I was like, “Man, I am kicking myself for not coming down here more often. It’s like 30 minutes away from where I live and right at my fingertips, and I never came.”

Ashley: Yeah, same. Growing up in Miami, I lived pretty much as far away as possible from the beach. So when people are like, “Oh, did you go to the beach all the time?” I was like, “No, I lived like almost in the swamp. I lived almost right by the Everglades.”

I lived only a couple blocks from Alligator Alley and I just never went to the beach partially because I didn’t have a car until the summer right before I left for college. But every time I go back to Miami now—obviously I haven’t been back in a couple of years—but every time I go back now, I’m like, this place rules.

It is pretty weird. There are no rules here. Everyone’s just, like everything that I would never do—like I have a thing about flip flops. I don’t like wearing flip-flops, but I’m like, nope, there are no rules here, my toes are out. Which is great. I love Miami so much and I love Florida so much.

Carlos: That’s so funny. Flip flops: Never in Chicago, but always in Miami.

Ashley: This is actually the second time that we have recorded a podcast together. We did the Matchbook Coffee Podcast together and we talked about a lot of really interesting themes but at a very surface level. I wanted to have you back and talk about some of these bigger ideas on this show.

So, just to give folks some background, can you talk a little bit about Happy Home [Coffee Roasters] and your roastery and how you got started?

Carlos: So my background is in hospitality. I was a hospitality director and catering sales director for Chick-fil-A. My path was to own one, owner operatorship, whatever you want to say. Basically, I was going to own my own Chick-fil-A. That was my path.

We had just moved to a new city. We were in Des Moines, Iowa at the time. I got plugged in with my local church and was really just loving the city and this path was just going to take me away from it. As I was looking for opportunities to stay [in Des Moines], a non-profit coffee shop was opening and they needed an assistant manager and trainer. And I was like, well, I don’t know that much about coffee, but I know I’m really good with people. I think I can figure it out.

And I think I would love to start roasting. That was the caveat: If I came on, then I would have to eventually take on the head roaster position. Two weeks in, I was behind the roaster practicing. It was a Dietrich IR7. I was practicing on some really old stale beans and I just fell in love with the science and the process. Fast forward three years later, that actually ended up being one of my worst jobs I ever had.

Ashley: We don’t ever talk about bad jobs here at Boss Barista. That's something … no, I’m kidding!

Carlos: I mean, I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. I don’t want to offend anybody. I just recognized that I needed to make a change. I had been trying to stay at that company, having negotiations about my salary, just really trying to figure out ways that I could retire there.

Because I really loved what was doing. I was in the Blackest part of the city. I was rubbing shoulders with people. I was introducing this community to coffee and I love what I was doing. But the organization that I was working for was mainly upper-class white men and [I noticed] a lot of the things that I was like, “Hey, we shouldn’t do this, we shouldn’t do this,” and it was just ignored.

At the end of the day, I was just tired of being silenced. Then I was like, I’m going to start this on my own. I’m going to create a company that I can be proud of that really reflects my values and who I am.

And there was one day over dinner where me and my wife were just spitballing and I was like, what should call it? We thought about Legacy Coffee. We thought about Heritage Coffee. And I was like, “I just want to create a happy home—happy home!”

Our eyes got super big. And we were like, that’s it. I felt like it was super simple, but also profound. So that was March of 2019.

We applied for the LLC, and around that time we were debating on moving to Hawaii. I was a pastor at a church and I’ve always had a desire to start a church in Hawaii. And so, we were like, “We’ve got one life—I don’t want to live my life with regrets and what could have been.”

And I was like, the worst thing that happens is we try to move to Hawaii, we move there and all this fails and we’re stuck in Hawaii. So we just pulled the trigger on that. In June of 2019, I left that job, making about 43 grand a year salary, benefits, and started working two baristas jobs and building my business on the side.

That’s where I’m at now. I’m not working those barista jobs anymore. We’ve since moved to Michigan where my wife’s family graciously allowed us to stay in their basement while we plan to save for our move to Hawaii, which we bought tickets a couple of months back for August 16 of next year.

Ashley: There are so many amazing nuggets in there about forward motion and taking advantage of the one life that you have. I think when I talk to people about mistakes, and not to say that there are any mistakes that you’ve outlined or anything like that, but the idea that … what’s the worst thing that can happen if you move to Hawaii and it sucks?

Carlos: I don't know where I get that from. I am a visionary, I am always five years in the future and which sometimes is to my detriment. I just really … I want to not just passively let life pass me by. My faith informs a lot of that but a lot of it too is just my personality. I want to pursue things and I want to make a difference. I want, at the end of my life, I want people to look at me and the things that I’ve accomplished and see that the world is better because of the things that I’ve tried to pursue.

These moves don’t seem as daunting to me as probably my wife, who is like, okay, I trust you. Like, let’s just talk about this a little bit more. But she’s super supportive as well.

Ashley: That’s really cool. I love that.

You talked about the idea of wanting to look back on your life and think, “Look at what I’ve accomplished,” or, “Look at the things that I’ve done,” because I think it’s easy to forget that we look upon moments of action rather than moments of inaction.

Carlos: That’s really good. I don’t know if I've ever thought about it like that. I’m going to write that down.

Ashley: I think I might write that down too. You know, when you say something, you’re like, where’d that come from?

This reminds me of this moment when … I was living in New York and then I was offered a job in San Francisco and I really debated if should I take this job? And I was like, “What’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Could I come back to New York?” Absolutely. “Could I maybe love San Francisco?” Absolutely. “Could I hate San Francisco?” Yes.

And I actually really hated it. I ended up leaving that job within a year, but you have to remember that the things that happen in your life, everything’s like a series in motion. If I hadn’t moved to San Francisco, I wouldn’t have met Jasper, who was the first co-host of Boss Barista. Would I be doing what I’m doing [now]? Would I be here in this moment right now if I didn’t make that decision to do that—and not to say that another pathway isn’t valid. Maybe I’d still be in New York doing barista work that I loved, because I left a job that I really loved when I was in New York. But I don’t know. I think about all the paths. I always think about the timeline.

Carlos: Yeah, I know. Have you seen “Community?”

Ashley: Yes! (squeals) Sorry. I love that episode.

Carlos: It’s like, what timeline are we living there right now? Oh man. We can nerd out about that stuff all day.

Ashley: I know. I agree. I think about that episode maybe once every 36 hours. I’m like, “Oh God, what timeline am I on?” I think a lot about the hundred thousand ways your life can unfold. And in certain ways, I think about the one that I’m on and I think this might not be the right one—there’s no way to objectively determine what’s the right timeline—but it’s kind of cool to think that life can just unfold in so many different ways. So it’s exciting sometimes.

Carlos: I think that’s why living with intentionality is so key, because all of our choices, all of the decisions that we make or even the decisions that we don’t make, they all have an effect to some account, and they all always affect someone else. Even the posts that you put out, the “we are not family” joint, those actions have repercussions and not being active has repercussions as well. It’s a ripple effect.

Ashley: I’m glad that you brought up the “we’re not a family” thing because one of the reasons I wanted to revisit our conversation [from the Matchbook podcast] is that we touched very briefly on the idea of family. I think you and I have perhaps a different perspective on the way that family language is used and it’s not necessarily an opposition.

Because something that you mentioned is that you want to build family and you want to build community. It seems like those words are kind of tied together. But when I posted that message on Instagram, I posted a graphic that just said, “We Are Not a Family.” You mentioned that some of that language has been problematic for you in the past. So I was wondering if you could talk about your relationship to that kind of rhetoric.

Carlos: I think when it comes to the workforce, as a Black man in the workforce and especially in service jobs, I think the whole notion of upper management using the term, “Hey guys, we're family, let’s all unify,” it almost feels like this like slave/master mentality of like, “Hey, stay in line. I have this job for you here.”

I don’t know. It just rubs me the wrong way when it comes to employment, because it’s like, “Hey, you’re providing me a service, but I’m also providing your service as well.” It’s not like it’s different from actual family. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m being as clear, I apologize.

Ashley: No, I think you’re being super clear, because there is this idea when you use familial language in the workplace where it obscures what’s actually happening. Labor is a trade. I’m trading my labor for money. And when you use that kind of language like, “Oh, we’re a family,” you’re trying to change that relationship a little bit, I think. And I think it’s almost always to the detriment of employees, and then adding the layer of who is often at the bottom of the employment rung—it’s often people of color and it’s often marginalized people. So it’s used as a way to manipulate the most vulnerable.

Carlos: Yes, yes. I understand there are going to be people who would disagree with me on this, but I’m just going to say: I think that, especially as a Black man, like me building my family is how I think the Black community as a whole is going to move forward—because so much of American history has been, “We’re going to annihilate the family.” We’re going to separate the fathers from the family, which we still see trickles from that now. Not a lot of … a lot of concerns. I’m sorry, I’m just thinking through like, you know…

Ashley: No, but you’re totally right. The idea of mass incarceration. I think it’s one in every three young Black men—I’m not sure exactly what the age range is—but I think it’s something like one in three will be in prison at some point in their life.

Carlos: Which is nuts. We’re 17% of the population, right? Like this is nuts. So I really do think that the cultivation of the family is what is going to continue the Black legacy in America. But I also recognize too that when it comes to employment and all this stuff, it’s just different. It’s not family. I mean, what you said is true is like that familiar language is used to … what’s the word I’m looking for? To say in a nice way, bend someone from your will, to leave people not asking questions, to leave employees just to stay silent when issues come up and it’s just straight-up bogus.

Ashley: Absolutely. Yeah. But I love that you’ve identified this need to almost reclaim it as part of your narrative and your identity, because when you look at Happy Home, number one, it talks about home, which lends itself perhaps to talking about family. How did you start to think about what you wanted your business to be? Because you go to your website and there’s a picture of your family right there. Your kids are on your bags.

Carlos: I think it all kind of stems from growing up. So growing up without my father, raised by my mother and my grandmother, I’ve always said this: I want to start a family. When I transitioned to my business, I just recognize that in order for this business to thrive and to be life-giving for myself, I have to be authentically who I am—and I drive a minivan. I have three kids, I wear fanny packs for diapers and wipes. That’s just who I am. I love my family. I guess representing that in my business was pretty easy because it’s just who I am.

I’ve thrown around the idea of, when I first started off just trying to be more minimalist, because, as an art form, I leaned toward that. At the end of the day, my family is so important to me, and so integral to who I am as a man, as a person—I just felt like I had to be authentically who I am.

It was kind of easy in that regard, I had to embrace it because I wanted to be taken seriously as a company. I want to be taken seriously as a coffee roaster. I had some hesitations of being this family coffee business because I didn’t want to just market to soccer moms. I didn’t want to just have my coffee be for people who only watch HGTV and all this stuff. At the end of the day, I just had to be like, “Okay, I’m just going to be who I am and then just trust that the coffee will speak for itself.”

Ashley: That’s an interesting debate that you had to have in your head—that you leading with family or you leading with how important your family is to you might disqualify you from being taken seriously, which shouldn’t be the case, but clearly you thought it could.

Carlos: Yeah. I mean, you don’t see it, right? You don’t see a lot of—I shouldn’t say “you”—I didn’t see, and I still don’t, see a ton of celebration of family. And a lot of that is just sometimes family sucks. Family is hard, but I didn’t see a lot of them, especially when it came to products, not just like coffee, but like excellently roasted coffee. Coffee that was ethically sourced. I didn’t see it.

It was more like most people will have a bag, and it’s no shade to anybody who has this as a coffee business, but as I would survey, especially coffee roasters and especially coffee roasters that I loved and admired, it was like a black or white bag, some sort of color coordination with the region where [the coffee is] from. And I was just super … man, I do not mean to offend anybody when I say this. So I apologize.

But it felt to me super sterile and that was my experience walking into coffee shops, too. It didn’t really feel like there was any life here. When I thought, “Man, I think I want to put our kids on these coffee bags,” I was like, I don’t know how this is going to be received because it’s not what I see, but it has been received really well. I’m so glad that I took the initiative to do that.

Ashley: I think you’re identifying this descent into sameness that coffee has where you go into any coffee shop and it could be anywhere or done by anybody because they all look the same. And that’s not necessarily the fault of the people designing coffee shops, but it’s the fault of—this is me getting a little social commie—but it’s this idea of quality being prized above all else. The idea that we celebrate these capitalistic endeavors to be one version of what is good. There is no celebration of diversity in a lot of different ways. That’s why we see coffee shops that look [the same]: repurposed, reclaimed wood and, like, wrought iron pipes.

Carlos: I know what you mean. Me and my wife have been having this discussion because part of us wanting to Hawaii is we want to start a church out there and we’ve been having a discussion of, for us to be truly successful, we have to be super local. Everything that we do has to make sense for the context in which we’re trying to reach people or the context we’re trying to serve coffee to. I would love to see coffee shops incorporate that too. You got a coffee shop in a super suburban place, which is all dope, like good for you, but I would love for coffee shops to reflect their local communities.

Ashley: There’s this book that I read called “How To Do Nothing.” And at first, I read it because I need to do less. But as I was reading it, the author talked about the idea of bioregionalism and how it applied to nature but took some of the lessons from nature into the way that we operate in the world.

Perhaps I’m misconstruing the argument a little bit, but I’ll take it for what I need it for. But it reminded me that the things that we love often are unique to us and they should serve the community. So the coffee shop that I love, for example, it’s called Four Letter Word. I love it because it’s a reflection of my community. And if you put Four Letter Word somewhere else, it wouldn’t make sense. And likewise, let’s say you came to visit me and I said, “This is why I love this coffee shop,” you wouldn’t love it for the same reasons I do.

Carlos: Yeah. That’s so good. Even when I thought about starting my business, I was like, this business makes sense for who I am. It’s like a happy home. I really believe it does. It is who I am. I love dancing to “The Lion King” in the living room with my kids. I love cultivating family rhythms. We do a Shabbat dinner every Friday night where we get the kids like sparkling wine or grape juice but like sparkling wine. And we just celebrate family and we can talk about the week and things that made us happy and the things that made us sad. That’s just who I am. Apart from coffee. I need to get that book. I’m gonna write it down right now.

Ashley: I feel like I need to send it. I like sending books to people. So maybe after this, I’ll get your address to send it to you.

I wanted to talk to you though about that—the blurring of those lines. Because I can imagine with your business being so entrenched in your family and the way that you operate your life that it can feel kind of muddy sometimes. Where’s the line between work and home? Where’s the line between roasting and family? I wonder—does that ever feel overwhelming?

Carlos: I think COVID has intensified it because mostly I’m working from home. My in-laws built us a roasting facility on their property, which has been really dope, but it’s like, “Daddy is home all the time,” so, that’s been hard for the kids to see me, but they can’t be with me.

So that's been tough, but I try to set pretty clear guidelines. So on voicemail it says, “Hey, my name is Carlos. Thanks for calling. If it’s after 4 p.m., I am with my family. I will call you tomorrow.” I have to set those boundaries because I failed at that in the past, when I was at the coffee shop that I mentioned earlier.

I would be screening phone calls at 9 p.m. and on the phone trying to make my coffee orders at 10 p.m. or I’d need to put my kids down, but I go and take a phone call and it was just super unhealthy. I’ve made pretty clear parameters on family time. The biggest part is nighttime, after 4 p.m., I worked from 8 to 4, and then from 4 to when kids go down, I’m on dad mode. After the kids go down, I’m there with my wife, and then she goes to sleep. And if I’m not sleepy, then I’ll maybe do [work] stuff, but most of the time I just fall asleep.

Ashley: Those are boundaries that I need to hear because I’m, if I’m being totally frank, I’m struggling with that right now. I’m not sure 100% what that looks like, and I’m sure that you probably grapple with this in your mind to this idea that if you’re not working, you feel … bad. I was wondering how do you deal with that? Because I haven’t figured it out.

Carlos: Honestly, a lot of my faith informs that. I mean, if you don’t mind me sharing, I can share.

Ashley: Go for it.

Carlos: So as a Christian, the Bible teaches that God created the world and on the seventh day he rested and it’s not because dad was super exhausted and he’s like, “Oh my gosh, I need to take a break. I need to put my feet up a little bit.” It was like God looked back on to his creation. And he marveled at the work that he did. And so when God chose to create us, I believe that he gives us rest so that we can be reminded of the goodness of his blessings in our lives. And that’s not to say that life is all peachy keen, right?

The reason I’m in Florida right now is because my grandmother’s going through chemotherapy, and it just sucks. I haven’t been able to see her because of COVID. Um, so it’s not to say that life is like peaches and cream or whatever, but rest really is a gift to remind us that God is looking out for us that he cares for our wellbeing and our mental health.

There have been a couple of books I can share with you when we get offline that have really helped inform me of that. A lot of spiritual practices, like meditation and the art of saying no, that really helped me. I’m an overworker—I can work 60 hours, 60, 70 hours, like it was nothing, but it’s not healthy for me. Everyone hates me when I work [too much].

I think to sum up everything I’m saying, rest is hard. It’s work, you have to work to rest. You have to intentionally plan to [rest], but I’ve seen the benefits of it, and it’s been hard, and I’m still trying to get better at it. But recognizing that if I’m not rested, I’m not really going to be that helpful to anyone that I actually want to help. So, um, yeah.

Ashley: That’s a good point. I feel like the last book I read on work and spirituality was in college. I read “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” which is kind of the opposite. It’s like, God loves you because you work hard. And it’s like, oh—this is how America was founded.

Carlos: That is not—that is false. Oh my gosh. I hate that.

Ashley: Oh, I hated that book. And I still hate it, but it was one of those books that they made you read in college and then you read the “The Communist Manifesto,” and you’re like, “Oh, this is the opposite.”

One of the things that I love to talk about is money and how people start their businesses. Something that you mentioned before we got on the air is that you wanted to build your business debt-free. So I was wondering if you could talk about what that meant for you.

Carlos: It means a lot of—it means a slow, slow growth, is what it essentially means. Because of systemic racism, the Black community as a whole is not well educated in finances. That’s why I love, you had her own here, @coffeeandtax.

Ashley: Tiani, yes!

Carlos: I love that account and her business because it really is a need, especially in Black communities. Because of that, I didn’t grow up hearing about savings and investments or any of this stuff, like this stuff I heard in college. I’m like, “What do you mean? You’ve got a savings account?”

I should say we didn’t start debt-free. When I started my business, I didn’t even know how to go about gaining capital and this … I mean, I feel so embarrassed to even say this, but maybe it’ll help somebody else. I took out a couple of credit cards and that’s how we paid for green coffee. That’s how we paid for my small, I had a Huky 500 [roaster], and that’s how we paid for that when we first started.

I was seeing the toll that it was taking on my family, the first six months of our business, I was like, man, I gotta do something different. I picked up this book by Dave Ramsey. I don’t agree with everything he said—oh, well, a lot of what he says—but a lot of the meat and potatoes of what he’s saying is you don’t have to be in debt to be financially literate.

I was like, okay, let’s just try to do this. And so we paid off all the credit cards. We live off of whatever we make from the business, the business lives on whatever we make from the business. I’ll just be transparent. I think being transparent about numbers is really good.

We’ll take home like 65% of our monthly sales. I say take home, but I mean that’s our model: We’re going to take 65% of our monthly sales and 35% will be thrown back into savings. For us, what we did was we saw our tax return from last year, [we saw it as] an opportunity to reinvest into our business. So the full tax return that we got, we just threw it right back into the business. So that’s how I bought our coffee roaster. That’s why we got a smaller coffee roaster because it’s all we could afford. We’ve just kinda been like, “Hey, we’re gonna grow this thing slow.”

Which has been really hard because a lot of the people in the coffee industry that I love—you’ve got Favor Coffee with Christina, who was a Glitter Cat, you have Ethnos Coffee, which I’m really cool with. You have Bartholomew [Jones] with Cxffeeblack—all of these people are growing. And we are not growing as fast because we’re just committed to being debt-free for the sake of my family, but also for the sake of just stewarding our money well.

I feel like I’m rambling a lot. I just don’t want to be a slave to credit card companies, debt companies. We recently just got approved for a bigger roaster, and I was so tempted to be like, “Let’s just do it. We need this. We need a bigger roaster.” I’m spending 10, 12 hours behind our little roaster now.

But our philosophy has forced me to be creative, right? And so to say, “Okay, we said we weren’t going to be in debt. So how are we going to get a bigger roaster?” And then I was like, “Oh, well let me just reach out to some people and see if they can rent their roaster.” Now we’ve partnered with Stovetop Roasters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They’re allowing us to rent their roaster, shoutout to them.

It’s hard. I wish that I could say that it’s not, because I would rather just take out this loan and just keep moving. I think in the long-term we will love what we’ve done as far as being debt-free.

Ashley: I think you’ve identified something that I also really love: the idea that you’ve had to get really creative. I think creativity actually really flourishes when forced into confinement. If you set rules for yourself like I can only do these certain things … the rules you have are, I can only move forward if I can do it debt-free. And in those moments, even though they feel like you’re really limiting your ability to do certain things, it actually forces you to do other things in a completely different way.

Carlos: It’s a huge issue in the coffee industry, right? We’re the second-largest industry behind oil. And yet, it’s predominantly dominated by not people of color. There’s a huge issue of getting funding. That’s why I love getchusomegear. I love what they’re doing with those grants. These organizations that are recognizing that there’s a gap between … it’s not because there’s a lack of people of color who have the skills in our industry. It’s really a lot of times funding and information. A lot of stuff is held tight and in secret. Like man, that’s not how the industry gets better. Any industry gets better as ideas are shared and people are challenged. Creativity has to come along.

Ashley: Absolutely. Number one, I’m glad you identified getchusomegear, which is doing some amazing things with redistributing wealth and providing resources. But two, it’s not for a lack of talent and it’s not for a lack of people who want to be part of the conversation.

So much of coffee’s forward movement right now seems to be people who have access to capital, and we’re leaving out so many people who would contribute so beautifully to the industry by saying, “This is the only way.” I feel like your business model is showing that there are other ways to do this, and this is how I’m doing it.

Carlos: And it won’t be as fast. Like, I’m a millennial, as a millennial, I want things right now, I want to go viral, I want this thing to happen, pop off real quick when in reality, that’s not realistic, things take time. I’ve been trying to intentionally step back from social media so that I can have a realistic view of what is a realistic expectation for a business. Being in my second year … I’m in a good spot.

Ashley: I mean, that’s a pretty good place to end, that you’re in a good spot. Carlos, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I appreciate it.

Carlos: Thank you for having me on—this was, this was a blessing.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

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