Thank you so much for visiting my funding campaign! I am closing my existing Brooklyn retail shop at the end of February and opening a larger space just a few blocks away! In this new space I will be adding a coffeeshop, as well as some vintage and sustainable clothing. I am planning to open late April/early May and am raising funds to help with this endeavor! This is where I’ve always imagined taking Lolo, but it was a matter of time and… well… money ;)
HelloOoo there everyone! My name is Lauren Williams and I opened Lolo and Friends in March 2019. Lolo and Friends is a small but impactful (like me!) retail shop located on the border of Carroll Gardens and Gowanus, Brooklyn that sells thoughtfully designed home goods, accessories, jewelry, body products and various gifts by emerging artists and designers. I aim to choose products that are one of a kind and that you probably wouldn't be able to find many other places (especially not on Amazon). Nearly all of these products are designed by majority women owned businesses. I started this shop for many reasons, but an important, driving reason (one that I bring myself back to every time I doubt myself) was to support and give a platform to the blossoming creative community around me. This is a community, as a RISD alum and as a career fashion designer, that I’ve been a part of for most of my life.
The decline of brick and mortar has been one of the things making it harder for creatives to make a living off of their passions, or in most cases, to pursue their passions at all. My goal has been that this store would become both a creative outlet for me and a creative outlet for my community to sell their work in a physical place. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised this past year at how many people have traveled outside of their neighborhood, state, or country (!!!) to shop at the store in real life, despite having the option of purchasing online. Photos don’t do justice to half the pieces in the shop - they deserve to be seen IRL. I truly believe that their value is felt a trillion times more when seen in person and when displayed amongst other talented work.
So why move to a larger space and add a coffeeshop to the store?
1.) LONGEVITY! My perseverance isn’t enough to win over the fact that retail is in a decline. A coffee shop will help keep traffic flowing through the space - which leads to more eyes on the products in the store - which will inevitably lead to more purchases. When someone comes in for a coffee, they may end up leaving with a gift for someone, and vice versa. Plus, wouldn’t you love to browse a store with a cup of coffee or tea just an arm’s length away? Stay all day, why don’t ya! The more products that are purchased in the shop means more products that I can purchase from designers to restock the shop -- it's a really lovely cycle for all parties involved!
- I will be partnering with City of Saints Coffee Roasters who roast just a few miles away in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They pride themselves in partnerships and celebrating the communities they inhabit. I’ve been feeling this sentiment TREMENDOUSLY from them. They have been incredibly helpful in determining what type of equipment I should buy, how to hook it up, and where to put it. I’m honored to serve their coffee and can’t wait for you all to try it!
- Something that’s missing from this particular nook of Carroll Gardens/Gowanus is specialty and wellness latte options! I plan to focus a lot on this niche so that I may set Lolo apart from the neighboring coffee shops. Look out for some yummy turmeric, lavender, or rose lattes and be prepared to add some collagen or adaptogens to it ;)
- I’ll also be serving the lovely Masha herbal teas! Masha Tea was founded in Brooklyn by naturopath Dr. Maria Geyman ND and is assembled by hand in small batches. The tea brings the healing and regenerative powers of natural teas to discerning drinkers and is designed with flavor, sustainability and beauty in mind.
- Pastries are still TBD, but there WILL BE PASTRIES! I'll also be offering seasonal almond butter/fruit toasts and avocado toasts for some sustenance should you decide to park yourself at one of our tables for awhile.
2.) COMMUNITY! With all this extra space, I will be focusing more on community engagement. There will be a bi-weekly events calendar in place where we'll be hosting fun and informative things like floral workshops, comedy nights, entrepreneurial panels, anything! I want Lolo to be a space where everyone in the neighborhood feels at home, welcome, and joyous. A pleasant place where you can sit and not talk to anyone, or where you can go and possibly make a new friend. No judgements and no expectations other than kindness. Events have also proven to be fairly profitable the last few times Lolo has hosted them (which definitely doesn't hurt!).
3.) EMPLOYMENT! For any type of person that is trying to pursue their passion, it sometimes means that they need a part-time, flexible work option to provide extra income. I would love to be another source of income for people that allows them the time and freedom to work on what matters most to them when they are not at Lolo. While they are working at Lolo, they will be surrounded by the work of artists, possibly their peers, which I hope would be inspiring and a lot less mundane than working elsewhere. Extra points if they also have work for sale in the shop!
And where exactly will this money be going????
My first location was funded solely on personal savings and an extremely generous loan from my parents. I was also working a full-time fashion design job (remotely) while simultaneously working at and managing the store. I am funding this next space with savings from this past years’ sales, with some small business loans, and by taking advantage of my (*pats herself on the back*) nearly perfect credit score. Your contributions will help me pay off these loans and credit card balances faster and will provide additional cash on hand - which will allow the business to run more smoothly from day one.
Here’s specifically where I’ll be focusing these funds:
1.) EQUIPMENT! Did you know that those fancy Italian espresso machines you see in all your favorite coffee shops cost at least $10,000? Well, now you do! And that’s an enormous chunk of my budget, but arguably the most important! In addition to the espresso machine, I also need things like coffee grinders (another high ticket item), coffee brewers, a refrigerator, sinks, ice machine and a commercial dishwasher. Are you sweating? I’m sweating.
2.) BUILDOUT! The owners of this new space are dealing with much of the cosmetic work, such as a gorgeous exterior GLOW-UP. The old bodega storefront is getting removed and they are installing a custom wood exterior that they developed with NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. It will look very similar to how it did back in 1920. The owners are also installing the flooring, a bathroom, and a HVAC system. However, I do need to pay for the 1000sqft of flooring upgrade (hardwood) and the specific plumbing that needs to be put in place for all those aforementioned fancy appliances. I’ll be building the coffee bar and benches myself! SOS!
3.) JUMP START ON PAYROLL! A coffeeshop is a whole new animal and I cannot do it as independently as I did with just the retail shop. I want to be positive that I have enough cash on hand on day one to pay employees before sales start rolling through. I will make sure of this no matter what, but it would give me peace of mind having extra cushion here.
I have procrastinated this campaign for so long because I truly hate asking for help. I cannot thank you enough for even clicking this link and considering contributing any amount to help me fund this new endeavor. Extra kudos if you’ve made it through this whole essay, written by someone who hasn’t written more than a paragraph on a single topic since 12th grade! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Supporting local businesses is so important to the health and prosperity of a neighborhood. Your support means literally everything to me! Regardless of whether you contribute or not, please come by and chat this Spring when we open, and maybe grab a cup of coffee ;)
If you have any questions, please drop me a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org