By: Hunter Mylek
Q: You were a Grand Valley State University student before starting your business Shift Coffee and Culture. Can you tell us how your time at GVSU shaped you and led you to start this business?
A: GVSU offers so many opportunities for you to “find yourself and your people”, I was able to explore a lot through social groups and taking different electives like Women & Gender Studies or African American Literature. I also participated in TRIO, which helped guide me in my journey to becoming an adult and a businesswoman.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
A: Absolutely not! I graduated with a degree in accounting and loved being an accountant so much, that I definitely thought I would do that for the rest of my life. It’s going to sound super cheesy but I guess I felt a calling to create a community space and thankfully was able to apply my business background to make it happen.
Q: How did you find success with this business idea?
A: I am not sure how one defines success, is it money? is it ratings? I personally feel successful because I get to see people enjoy the space every day, I get to hear everyone’s reaction, and see the community being built.
Q: I know at Shift Coffee and Culture it is your mission to support minority businesses and to provide a space for them to thrive. Why do you feel having a space like yours is so important?
A: Supporting minority-owned businesses is so important to me because I know how hard it is to start a business, to be an underdog, and to put your heart and soul into something. I want to make sure that we are helping lift others, yes it is easy to go to Amazon and hit “buy now” but there is a different feeling, love, and connection when you know who you are buying from and their stories.
Q: Could you talk about a few of the businesses you partner with and the impact Shift Coffee and Culture has made so far?
A: We have such good relationships with all the brands that we represent, we communicate with them on a regular basis and get to build a genuine connection. A few of our brands are Wildwonder, Droplet, and Kakooies. Each one of these brands has been vetted and hand-picked, it’s been fun bringing in brands that you may have never heard of and also knowing that each order we make is helping them stay in business.
Q: What else would you want students to know about Shift Coffee and Culture?
A: YOU ARE WELCOME HERE, you don’t even have to love coffee, we have other options (waffles, teas, lemonades etc). We just want you to feel invited to come in, relax and enjoy the space.
Q: What are some lessons you’ve learned from starting your own business, and what does your business mean to you?
A: I have learned that when starting your own business you are the end all be all, so be ready to do the dirty work! Shift means a lot to me, it is my baby, it is my vision, and it is my dream space. I just hope that everyone who comes in can leave saying “Man, that place is dope”
To learn more about Deanna and Shift Coffee and Culture follow them on Instagram and check out the website for more information!