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Nathan Nelms came on board in 2017 after Jake Sapp, coordinator of program operations for ESP, contacted his parents about Nelms working with Java Joy.
“We did like a practice,” Nelms said. “We would like, fill the coffee filter thing an then we’ll have to pour the coffee powder stuff and then we’ll have to shake it a little bit and put it in the thing, and we’ll have to turn the coffee thing on and wait ‘til it says ‘ready to go.’”
Going on two years later, Nelms and McCutcheon are experts at running the coffee maker and the coffee cart.
joyristas bring their coffee cart or coffee trailer to the business and serve complimentary cups of Jittery Joe’s, and plenty of complimentary hugs. Though many Athens-area businesses have hired Java Joy since 2016, the word is spreading.
“The coolest place is the downtown in Atlanta,” McCutcheon said of a recent event at Colony Square in Midtown. “We helped to do 500 muffins.”
Joyristas made about $100 each in tips that day, and celebrated a job well-done with lunch at Cracker Barrel.
“It’s better than [previous jobs] because you get to go out in the community and serve coffee and hang out with your friends,” Nelms said.
Graben said most of the time, the cart is wheeled into a business’ lobby, lounge or meeting room, but for this event, the trailer was on the street food truck style. She said this will be the first of several bookings at this locale as part of Java Joy’s new subscription program: companies that book at least four times in one year can receive a discounted rate.
“We’re really great at grand openings or holidays, parties where businesses are celebrating certain big events,” Graben said. “At the same time, we’re plugged into businesses on a weekly, monthly basis that just want us there simply for their staff.”
In the Classic City, Java Joy launched a new partnership with the YMCA on weekends inviting businesses to sponsor coffee, and joyristas now have the chance to work directly at the Jittery Joe’s roastery on Monday a month.
“YMCA is like, we do events with basketball games. People play games, and we serve coffee for them,” McCutcheon said.
Her work with Java Joy inspired McCutcheon to create her own business — Meg’s Mess. She said the name in part comes from the mess she tends to leave in the kitchen, like red velvet on her mom’s mixer after making a cake.
As for Nelms, he gets the most out of being hands-on.
“Nathan really enjoys the kind of behind-the-scenes aspect of it,” Graben said. “You don’t tell him what needs to be loaded, he just grabs the cambros and takes them to the van.”
The other barrier Java Joy’s staff hopes to lessen is interacting with adults of different abilities.
“That’s an amazing thing to witness. Some people have hesitancies with interacting with people with disabilities, and they don’t know how to get past it,” Graben said. “You see someone taken aback at first … by the end of it they leave with the biggest smile on their face. That’s what’s so special about our brand. We meet you where you are and you end up having this experience you didn’t’ expect, and a lot of people’s lives are changed because of it.”
Karida Collins, owner and founder of Neighborhood Fiber Co., said she was shocked that the conversation was happening, but added that it was inevitable.
“The first trade show I went to was in 2007 and from what I could tell I was the only black person there. I was also one of the youngest people there,” Collins said. “It was definitely a space that was older and whiter than my life normally included.”
She attributes it to people being more comfortable with expressing their political opinions in public spaces.
“I might have a black friend and we might say something about a shop, like, ‘Oh yeah, I went in there and the person ignored me, of course.’ But we wouldn’t necessarily share that information with a white person who asked about that store,” Collins said. “It’s like Pandora’s Box. All of a sudden all of these feelings and experiences that have been there for years, it’s not new. It’s not like just now people started being a little racist. Now I think the main difference is that … knitting has a much younger constituency. Younger in their 20s and 30s. These are people who statistically are much more progressive than the group that preceded them. So this is a group of people who has grown up with the idea that they are the ones who challenge the status quo.”
Another thing that makes it easier is that there are more women of color visible as knitters, designers and dyers, Collins included.
“It’s easier to raise your voice when you know that you’re not the only one,” she said. “I definitely feel like it’s not my responsibility to educate white people about racism. White people created it; white people can fix it.”
“I felt like it was upsetting the status quo a little bit … because the knitting community, especially when I was living in DC, the knitting community was almost entirely white. So I felt like just being who I was, was entirely unexpected,” she said. “I wanted to convey a distinctly urban aesthetic and idea — urban meaning ‘city’ and also meaning that like, with the connotation of being black.”
Sometimes the color names are based on aspects of a neighborhood, like the aforementioned Roland Park. And Canton is a Baltimore neighborhood with a lot of waterfront property, so the name fit a blue-green colorway. Other times they’re based on inside jokes, like a friend of Collins’ who suggested they needed a bright yellow — so they named their yellow after the neighborhood that friend lived in.
“My favorite is one that we’ve actually discontinued. It was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and I came up with it sort of inspired by Michelle Obama,” Collins said. “In the beginning of the Obama presidency everyone was really excited and hopeful. I was really kind of amped up of the idea of reaching across the aisle and collaborating to make America better for everyone. That color is a purple — it’s kind of an eggplant — but it’s got spots of red and spots of blue. There’s a lot of feeling in that yarn.”
Collins said she doesn’t expect every knitter or designer of color to take part in the discussion.
“Everyone has to act at their own comfort level, because it is emotional labor to engage in conversations and educate people about diversity and being inclusive and not even about overt racism, this is just about things that most people don’t notice or think about,” she said. “I would encourage everyone to own or embrace their identity, but whether or not you want to make your voice heard, that’s your business.”
and felt called to do something in the wake of Gray’s death. So they created a color and donated all of the money collected from the sale of those skeins.
“We were able to raise $10,000. It was the first time we did it and it far exceeded my expectation,” Collins said. “We donated it to a Baltimore charity foundation. I felt like it was something that no matter your politics, you could get behind rebuilding a city. … I was very careful to pick a fund that would be palatable to everyone. I didn’t donate the money to Black Lives Matter … and then eventually as time went on, our voice got a little louder. I started letting more of my own politics show through and it’s just part of who I am and it’s part of the ethos of this company.”
They’ve donated to causes of all sizes, but it’s the smaller or local ones where she feels the most good has been done.
“I really want to focus on helping the community in a really tangible way. When we donated $10,000 to Doctors Without Borders, that was amazing, but they’re a huge organization. Whereas we donated $10,000 to one of these gun safety advocate organizations and … they sent us the most gushing email that said, ‘Thank you so much! We can now hire this person we’ve been trying to find the money for.’ It was just really overwhelming,” Collins said.
decide to stay in south Georgia instead of moving to Atlanta?
Sarah: Both mine and my husband’s families are from Turner County. I’m married to my high-school sweetheart. He’s the reason I love ag because he was president of the FFA when I was in high school — he taught me how to show sheep. When I graduated college, we moved back to Ashburn [Georgia] on purpose because we loved south Georgia. We knew we were going to have kids one day and we needed the support of our families with both of us working and traveling.
Atlanta is so busy and we’ve been used to this lifestyle pretty much our whole lives, except for college, and the traffic is a little crazy. Here I have all the perks of small town life, plus if I need to be in Atlanta, I can be there in two hours and 15 minutes.
After 10 years in an office setting, what’s it been like adjusting to a home office?
When I started working from home, I said, “I’m going to get up every single day and get dressed as if I was going to be at an office.” That lasted about four months. It helps because I have a designated office in my house — there’s no television; the snacks are all downstairs, so it’s like I have to go and eat my lunch downstairs. And sometimes I get on a roll up here and work through lunch, so it’s nice to have that designated space.
I am the primary person who runs the kids to school in the morning. I have to put on … not pajamas, so that helps. I just feel like it jump-starts me to go ahead and have a shower in the morning even if I’m putting on jeans and something casual.
The struggle to adapting to working from home, on a personal level, has been kind of tricky because I have to make plans to see people. It’s not just seeing them in the kitchen and heating up my lunch, it’s a lot more planning.
effort for are really important to keep up a good network. Setting aside time for a one-on-one conversation is important. Keeping those relationships fresh and active is important not only in our industry, but with people I went to high school with, too. They’re working, they have kids, they’re juggling all the things; it’s nice to have a sanity check.
You mentioned your email calendar and planner. Why are these the tools that work best for you?
When I graduated high school, I was such a technology nerd [my now-husband] bought me a Palm Pilot for college. Like, syllabus day was my favorite day in college because I would go ahead and put in deadlines and tests. That’s a personality thing — some people cannot live by a calendar. But with technology, we all walk around with a smart phone in our hand at all times. I can be driving down the road and tell Siri, “call the car dealership and set up that appointment,” or “put that reminder on for Tuesday morning” and it’ll pop up and remind me.
I operate out of Outlook for work for my email system. That shows up on my native iPhone calendar, so that just works nicely. I also have a physical planner that I utilize because sometimes it’s nice just to have it in my hand. Once a week I’ll just double-check to make sure [an event] is in both places.
I use a planner that’s like a perpetual planner. So when the month goes by, I’ll stick the January tab in the back and add some more planner pages that have the week-at-a-time view. I always have a full 12 months.
How do you set boundaries between work and home, especially since they’re in the same place?
I utilize the “do not disturb” feature on my iPhone and I have all of my notifications turned off for emails. If somebody texts me for work it’ll still pop up, but honestly a lot of times when it’s time to sit down and eat supper, all the cell phones are not in the kitchen. Personal phones, work phones, they’re put away because we only have a few hours at night.
drive themselves one day. If you’re fortunate like I am to have a mother and mother-in-law and sister to help fill in the gaps, that’s great. If not, have a reliable babysitter or friend. The kids need a break from us as well, and that alleviates that.
Women, especially women that work from home and are juggling all the things, just need to remind themselves to give themselves some grace. You really only have 100 percent of yourself, so unless you quit your job and not have a partner … you do have to balance it. So don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard. The same thing with maintaining friendships and if you’re in a religion. Just know what’s important, and make sure you’re giving what you want to it, but not letting it run you over.
The #LeadingLadies series highlights women entrepreneurs and women who are outstanding in their fields. Have someone you’d like to see here on a future Wednesday? Shoot me a message, pretty please! Read past #LeadingLadies posts here.