Coffee Date Project

Coffee Date 6

Leon Khameson

This was a turn in coffee dates, so far I have only met with small business owners.  Leon doesn't own a small business, but after meeting him, I definitely consider him a creative.  Also, he was/is the first person I've met for these coffee dates that I knew ZERO about before meeting (I like to do my research).  He was recommended to me by Silvia of Carpe Diem and well, that was good enough for me!

Leon is a sushi chef at a Tsunami.  I only start with that because it's food.  Leon's passion is food, and it's obvious.  (I love foodies).  Leon and I see eye-to-eye on what it means to have a good time.  Food, friends and family.  I like to add wine and board games in that mix.

I've never tasted any of his food creations, but it would seem he has some talent.  Later that evening, he was praised because there is a Leon Roll on the sushi menu, and this girl loves it.  Literally, she said so at least 5 times.

We ended up talking for 3+ hours, I lost track.   He told me his life story being originally from Laos and how he ended up in Lafayette, LA.  If you meet him and he's up for telling the story, I'd encourage it.  He spoke of food recipes and restaurants he enjoys.  Life abroad and other travels.  A possible food blog he may start, which I definitely encourage.  Leon recommended I watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" - which is now on my to-do list.  It was wonderful to have great, interesting conversation with someone my age.

After talking about food most of the coffee date, we went to Jefferson Street Pub.  Apparently they added gastropub, which is like really good food made for the bar.  I didn't even know it existed till Leon recommended it.  Come to find out, I knew the chefs, C.J. Pothier and Robert Sandberg.  Last year I went to a dinner hosted by The Underground Supper Club.  They were two of the four chefs that cooked for us.  That was an amazing dinner, these guys know what they are doing.  So when I found out that they were the cooks, I knew no matter what I go, it would be delicious.  I ordered the fried pickles, which were actually speared and breaded differently than any I had ever tasted.  Leon had the deep fried pimiento cheese balls.  For the main dish I had the special of the day, which was a black eyed pea soup with some french bread.  Leon ordered the shepherd's pie, which was tasted like home.  I plan to go back to try more!

After supper we parted ways, but I have a feeling it will not be the last time I hang out with Leon. ;)


Coffee Date 5


    Thomas Peters - The Lab

I find that one of the most difficult aspects of owning your own business is picking out the name.  How do I encompass everything about this business in just a few words!  Well Thomas and Pam Peters hit the nail on the head.

The Lab
Handcrafted Coffee & Comforts
Taste and Engage.  

It matches their place perfectly.  The Lab - Thomas says he is constantly experimenting.  How fun is that?  When you go, you can always expect new flavors of the Cold Sweet Cream.  For those that have never been, Cold Sweet Cream is it kind of a blend of gelato/ice cream and it is amazing.  They have a wonderful atmosphere.  I love the open windows constantly letting in daylight and the assortment of different seating options.  It's a beautiful open space, that is very inviting and comfortable.

For this meeting I went there and had a Green Tea and a croissant.  Both were delightful.  I made a point to tell Thomas that I had been to Paris for a Study Abroad program and I had croissants there everyday.  These taste identical to those, I literally felt like I was back in Paris for a moment.  Now my mouth is watering and I'm hungry for one.  

One aspect of this business that I found interesting is that it's a Husband & Wife company.  I've always love hearing about couple-owned businesses.  Really, I'd love to be a fly on the wall for a while and see how couples manage a business and personal life.  Thomas says they have a great relationship and are able to use each other strengths to work as a unit.  He said you also need to remember when you walk in the door (of your home), that you need to drop what's happening at work.

I questioned his response towards naysayers.  Instead of ignoring them, he always wants to hear them out.  If they think his place won't succeed, then he wants to know why not.  I think that's awesome.  Though for myself, if it's not constructive, I have a hard time listening.  Although I mentioned doing my art full-time and someone said "oh, so you can be poor the rest of your life."  A stigma that really erks me.  The comment annoyed me, but at the same time I wanted to question why.   At that moment, I was too busy to get into it, but I will find out later.

I asked if he keeps a positive group of people surrounding him.  Instead of saying positive people, he said he likes to have well-balanced people in his life.  Since no one is truly positive 24-7.  We are all human, and all have stuff going on in our lives.  I was kind of blown away by this comment.  So simple, but yet it did.  I realized this much more realistic and more of what I want in my life.  So instead of me saying I want positive people in my life, I want well-balanced people.

So happy I had the pleasure of sitting down with Thomas.  He is a cool, laid-back guy, that is really easy to hang out and chat with.  He's always at the coffee shop so stop by and get something tasty and say hello.


 Coffee Date 4

    Silvia Bertolazzi - Carpe Diem Gelato


Carpe Diem - Gelato & Expresso Bar is amazing.  Locals, if you haven't tried it, you are truly missing out on something fantastic.  Leave your house or work and go get some gelato, STAT!

For this meeting, I was enjoying the Blueberry Tea.   Deeeeeelicious!  Not only is the product wonderful, but it's the atmosphere.  Silvia has put together a team of fun, hip, super nice workers, which she calls her family.   They create a pleasant environment that makes you want to go back again and again.   A simple Italian-infused, cozy place that after a while, feels like a home away from home.

I wonder how many more adjectives I can include in this one writing to express how much I love this place?

Seriously, amazing team, amazing product, amazing atmosphere!  Now, I can officially say that Silvia is just as amazing.  Silvia radiates life and positivity.  She believes in the words Carpe Diem! - "Seize the Day."  She lives for her passion and you can tell she loves what she is doing.   She is one of those people who "fill your bucket."  (Reference to How Full is your Bucket by Tom Rath - great book.)  By that I mean, she leaves you feeling wonderful, rejuvenated, and inspired.  I try and make a point to surround myself with these types of people, they are positive, uplifting, and usually overall great people.

I asked if she had any advice to give to me about pursuing my business adventures.  She encouraged me to follow my heart and my passion.  Ignore nay-sayers and pursue your dreams. Your heart will lead you on the right track.  Jump and take risks, if your passionate about what your going after, it will work out.  Silvia mentioned that it was also a mindset.  Instead of saying "I hope this happens," say "this will happen."  I agree, I've started to really push myself towards the positive mindset, but I still think there is room for improvement.  She also recommended the book "The Secret," which I instantly added to my must-read list.  Sooner than later. (I literally stopped writing to add it to my Amazon cart and ordered it.)

Something I learned while meeting with Silvia is that she actually has a business partner, Erik Graveson.  I have been hanging out with a friend lately, who is all for collaboration.  The more I think about it, and learn about it, the more I think I would really enjoy collaborating with someone.  I reminisce on college days, we all had our studio desks and could easily walk to each other, share our ideas, and get feedback (something I miss terribly).  Someone to have bounce ideas off of, helping out, and the support of not being in it alone.  I can see a partner being extremely beneficial.  She said you must trust that person, because making a business together is like a baby.  It needs a lot of attention and commitment from both parties.

Overall fantastic meeting!  She's given me more motivation, a brighter outlook, and inspired me to continue to pursue my passion.  She's a wonderful person, and I'm so happy I had the pleasure of meeting with her.  Now go get some gelato!

To learn more about Silvia, check out this amazing video of The Passion Series. It's truly beautiful.


 Coffee Date 3
 for the 30 Coffee Dates with 30 People Project


    Chris 'Bird' Culotta - HeartThrob Skateboards


Originally, I met Chris Bird at a roller derby bout.  (Yes, I played roller derby).   He was the announcer and in my opinion an awesome fun one!  So I went find out who this cat was with the intent to request his announcing skills for our local derby bouts.  Fast forward a couple years later and we meet again.

Chris owns a skateboard company, HeartThrob Skateboards, in Baton Rouge, LA, as of the last 4 years with plans to slowly take over the world.  I approve.  You can also catch him DJin as well! 

A reoccurring statement I get from small business owners is how you have to work your butt off.  How even though they may work harder, but they are enjoying life way more than they ever did at their typical 8-5 job.  How in the beginning there may (will) be need for lots of sacrifice, but the gratification from creating a business that your passionate about is completely worth it. 

Another thing I admire is local businesses who keep it local.  His boards are made in the USA, and he has a local graphic designer to help make his designs/ideas become reality.  You can't compete with the quality and service you get from local businesses.  As well as the satisfaction that you are helping your community grow and become richer.

We also discussed the type of people we choose to surround ourselves with.  He makes it a point to keep a positive circle of friends around him.  I totally agree with this way of living and apply it to my life as well.  No drama, amen!

 Oh yes, AND bonus!  I had the chance to meet this cute furry guy, also known as Gagutsa. 

Check out his boards, (Chris' not Gagutsa's - though really, he's probably the master mind behind it all)  and tell him Hi!


Coffee Date 2
 for the 30 Coffee Dates with 30 People Project


Sarah Hennessey - Sometimes I Swirl

 I originally found Sarah's Etsy shop while browsing and have also seen her work featured on the front page many times.  One of my friends also owns a piece of her work. I love her swirly style and unique version of flower designs.  It also makes me smile to see our similar love for our pets, she has two adorable cats, Lily and Conn!

Some of her wonderful work!

This was my first online 'coffee' meetings and a first for both of us.

Initially, I assumed, (because I think her work is so awesome), she would want to go full time with her art.  Turns out, she's happy with it being a side gig for now.  She likes the freedom to take breaks from her work, and not constantly have to produce.  As well as to avoid burnouts, which I totally understand.  As a fellow Etsy shop owner, it's always awesome sharing stories, they just get it.  We discussed customer stories, sales, blogs, and how we shared how we started up. 

She's done art all her life.  One question I was really interested in was if she had been developing her style.  She said it just comes to her naturally.  That is how she has always drawn or doodled in notebooks.  Then in high school she discovered Henna designs, and it all connected.  I feel like I have been hearing this a lot, the best work just comes from the heart.  Seems to be working for Sarah!

We talked about my work, and my past of cross-stitching.  She mentioned that she'd been asked multiple times for patterns, and that I should try that with my linocuts.  My mother had mentioned a while back about making my own patterns, but I had long forgotten about it.  I think this is an interesting idea that I plan to explore and see what comes of it.

Sarah is super sweet and super talented. She seems like a great person to brainstorm with, someone you can just bounce ideas back and forth with.  It was a great conversation.  I plan to stay in touch as well as continue to watch her artwork/etsy shop grow.

I also plan to add a piece of her artwork to my collect, but which one? (I like so many!)

Like her on Facebook!


Coffee Date 1
 for the 30 Coffee Dates with 30 People Project


Aileen Bennett - Creating Clever

When I first met Aileen it was at a NYE party.  She was very friendly, funny, charismatic, and of course, English.  Later I was told she was the mastermind behind the Do Good Project.  Then I found out she was a writer, blogger, business coacher, speaker, designer, do-gooder and much more.  I enjoy her daily clever blog and I promise you will too.

I've just filled my belly with delicious Carpe Diem gelato, then Aileen comes in with a warm smile and greets me with a hug.  What a wonderful way to start a coffee meeting.  This is exactly how the meeting continued, wonderfully.  She is one of the most geniune people I've ever met. She's a great example of where I'd like to be later in my life.  I don't necessarily mean, speaking, coaching, blogging and such.  I mean that she is happy, she knows who she is and loves what she does.  That's all I want out of life and I am willing to put in the hardwork to achieve it.   

I have always thought, how does anyone only do one thing all day everyday and not go crazy or get bored?  Aileen is proof that I don't have to do that.  That is the beauty of this century, I can do many different things and she encourages it.  Whew, that's a relief!  So it possible to be a designer, artist, painter, photographer, crafter, all in one.

She asked what my dream job and I gave her details of things I'd like.  Then I thought, if I could learn all kinds of new arts and crafts, that be any awesome job.  I get paid to play, experiment, learn and challenge myself, who wouldn't want that? 

We moved on to the topic of business cards, and examples of how people have gotten creative with them.  In particular we spoke about hers.  She has several, check them out here.  She has a blank “thank you” card, which she said is perfect for writing notes when giving to someone.  She has the “Let’s have coffee” card, in which she simply needs to hand to someone.  The reason she handed you the card is right there in your hand!  These work for what she needs them to do for her.  Now I am thinking to myself, "hmmm, what do I want MY business cards to do for me."  I have had trouble in the past designing a card that I felt represented everything I do.   So it's time for me to get my hands dirty and creative and really explore with business cards more.

We are all brands, she said, our actions represent who we are and what we are selling (or not selling).  An interesting concept, with which I agree wholeheartedly.  Aileen believes in helping people.  "Why wouldn't I want to help you?" she says.  It's true, and this is part of her brand.  Otherwise, why would she be sitting with me for coffee?

So she's left me with lifted spirits, new knowledge, and some confidence for my future.  So excuse me,  I have some more experimenting, designing, and research to go do!

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