Community is everything right now. We are being called to do what is right, open our hearts and put down our egos and desire for personal gain. If you are anything like me, we crave inclusivity and a safe space to feel relief from the overload of information, judgments and opinions. Alleah Webb’s vision for an all inclusive safe space could only revolve around one thing, coffee. She fell in love with coffee shops at a young age; with the exchange between the Barista and the customer.
You are not just serving a cup of coffee you are listening and getting to know someone.
“People come to a coffee shop to feel good and the Barista is there to send you on your day feeling a little bit brighter.” She also feels that coffee shops are where people go to find out what is going on in the community and can act as a center for each community. Alleah knew she was going to open a business since the age of 18. She was raised by entrepreneurs and felt a longing to become a leader and help change the world for the better.
Alleah graduated from Central Michigan University with a BSBA. After graduation she immediately started working for her parents’ business, learning the ins and outs. She felt the pull between staying secure working for her mom or venturing out into the unknown. Eventually she could not fight her personal desire to pursue her vision for a coffee shop.
With the support of her family and friends, Alleah launched the Drifter Coffee Caboose in May 0f 2015. She started a crowd funding campaign and raised enough money for her and her dad to convert a vintage 1970’s camping trailer into a mobile coffee shop. She traveled all over the lower peninsula attending art fairs, music festivals, weddings, farmers markets…all while scoping possible places for her future brick and mortar shop.
Her end goal was always to open a coffee shop. She spent four years traveling in the Drifter Coffee Caboose, slowly gaining a following and new customers. When she finally felt the time was right, she decided to make Ferndale, Michigan home to Drifter Coffee.
Starting your own business is no small task. Many business owners, including Alleah, learn many lessons along the way. One of the most important things for Alleah was how to manage her time and energy. “Owning a business can overwhelm you at times and learning to say no is essential for your sustainability.” As a young business owner, Alleah had to learn to listen to her own voice, versus the many seasoned business owners offering their opinion. She learned to turn down the noise to determine for herself what was right and what satisfied her goals for Drifter Coffee.
Not everyone will get what you are doing.
With any new business, once you open you are also opening up for criticism. For Alleah, it was difficult to pour her heart and soul into something and at times she felt taken advantage of or unsupported. Many people do not understand Drifter’s vision of inclusivity and their way of doing things. This is hard, but Alleah and her staff have learned how to maintain their values and vision through resistance.
Drifter is not your average coffee chain. People forget that when you come in to buy a coffee, you are coming into a space designed for you. The space is unique, comforting and welcoming, which requires time and thoughtfulness in each interaction. One of Drifter’s values is to do as much as they can to support people and other businesses in their community. When you come in for coffee you are not only supporting Drifter, but you are supporting many local artists and small businesses that use Drifter as a space to sell and market their hand crafted talents.
Alleah is now putting all of her energy into the Drifter Coffee Brick and Mortar shop in Ferndale. She enjoys engrossing herself within her community and feels it is important to stay rooted in one place. She enjoys hosting artists and supporting other’s passions; anything from music to macramé workshops. She looks forward to hosting events and summer concerts behind her shop (yes there is a stage behind the shop). Word on the street is that Drifter will soon expand into a bakery and Alleah will be personally mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs in her community. Stay tuned and follow Drifter Events, Facebook or Instagram for upcoming workshops and events (workshops will take place online during the stay home order).