ABOVE PHOTO: Stephanie Ford and business partner Sonja West.
By Danae Reid
Black women are officially the leading demographic of entrepreneurs in the United States and everyone is talking about it! The number of businesses owned and operated by Black women throughout the country continues to increase at rapid rates and shows no signs of slowing down.
According to Black Enterprise, as of 2015, the number of businesses owned by African American women had grown 322% since 1997.
As the amount of businesses operated and owned by Black women increases, so should our support of them. Whether it be a grocery store, a nail salon, or a coffee shop, the nearest Black/woman owned storefront may be closer than you think.
On October 7, 2019, Philadelphia’s own, Stephanie Ford and business partner, Sonja West opened the doors to coffee shop, Coffee Cream and Dreams, after several years of planning.
Tell me a little about Coffee Cream & Dreams. How’d you come up with the name? What’s the culture of your shop?
I love coffee shops and have been saying for quite some time that I wanted to open my own. I came up with the name while sitting outside of another coffee shop. I jotted down several names, sent a “what cha think” message to a few friends and this name was a winner! In 2018 I took a voluntary layoff from my job and decided that this was the opportunity presenting itself for me to open the coffee shop. I reached out to a few friends, and one person in particular who was recently retired to see who would be interested.
After multiple meetings, visiting various neighborhoods, and walking around looking for space, we found this gem sitting on the corner. After almost a year of challenges and transforming the space, we were finally given the okay to open.
The shop is welcoming and relaxing when its quiet. At times, it’s chill and then other times it can be loud and boisterous. Overall, Coffee Cream and Dreams, provides a unique experience for each individual customer. There is a wide range of customers from the little babies who are strolled in by their parents, toddlers who bring us pumpkins from the Pumpkin Patch or walk by while waving and smiling, to teenagers and adults… Our space is open to everyone.
Black women specifically are currently opening more businesses than any other demographic. How does it feel to know that you’re now included in this demographic? Do you think it’s important for Black women to be in a position of ownership? Why/Why not?
It feels great to be apart of a growing statistic of women who are owning their own businesses. I am excited to be able to use this business as a platform to teach women and girls that they too can dream and that dreams do come true. I believe that while it is very important for women of color to be in a position of ownership, it is equally important for all women who have an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to be self-employed to do so
Coffee and tea spots are all the rage. Do you ever feel discouraged in regard to completion? Have you garnered a lot of support from your communities?
Coffee and tea spots are very popular. This is a good thing. We have received a tremendous amount of support from the community where we are located. There was a need in the area and we are excited to be of service to the community.
How does Coffee Cream & Dreams
differ from its competition?
We are different because we aren’t just selling our customers a cup of coffee and a pastry. We want our customers to feel welcomed, able to have a really good cup of coffee or drink, sit a while and talk, or just grab their drink to go. Overall, we want to provide them with such a great experience that when they leave, they’re not just walking away with a drink in their hand but also with an enjoyable and memorable experience of our space.
What advice would you give a fellow Black woman who may be considering starting their own business?
My advice would be to go for it! Do your homework and have a well thought out plan. Create a business plan and take classes that will help you learn all that it takes to operate a business. Know your target audience. If it is a brick and mortar business, remember that location is crucial!
I believe that there is never a perfect time to start a business. We just need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself… Don’t think, just start working towards your goal TODAY! Otherwise, you will overthink the process and may never fulfill your dream and/or goal.
Lastly, What’s your most favorite/popular pastry and drink?
My favorite is our house blend with just a dab of heavy cream and a little sweetener. Our most popular pastry is already the Zucchini bread! Each bite is full of deliciousness.
Move over Starbucks, you’ve got a new competitor! Coffee Creams and Dreams is located at 1500 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia. For more information, visit their website at coffeecreamanddreams.com