Kristin Stonesifer is the owner of House of Coffi.
Tell us about your business.
The House of Coffi is about a passion for quality multicultural drinks, freshly roasted, sustainable coffee, a contribution to the arts and creating a culture of a collaborative, loving community. We have a hip vibe but know how to cater to all of our clientele.
What is a typical day like for you?
Typical day for me begins between 5:30-6 a.m. We grab freshly baked goods from local small businesses. These include but are not limited to La Baguette Bakery & Catering, Georgia Boy’s Bagel Cafe and Fifer Orchards. Ensure the shop is up and running, … lights are on, and coffee brewing. Switch gears: Help my son get up and ready for second grade. Head into the shop. Inventory, ordering and ensure equipment is running properly.
The next few hours are spent chatting with my guests and catching up with the team. Meetings with other local businesses, current employees, (and) prospective employees, (as well as) business classes, meeting artists, mentoring, catering, banking, payroll, cutting grass, landscaping, machine repair, painting, planting flowers, cleaning, shopping and volunteering fill up afternoons. Then, head home to cook dinner and wrap up the day with my family.
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Have a good banker who goes the extra mile and truly wants to see you thrive.
We use First Citizens Community Bank’s Kevin Esslinger (formerly MidCoast Bank). Kevin Esslinger made The House of Coffi possible five years ago and has been a huge asset ever since.
Additionally, be flexible with your business and prepared to pivot on the dime.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
Loving what you do and seeing the difference you make is a tremendous motivator! Making a misstep and then doing an assessment to see what I did wrong. This is huge. Every week, I make mistakes. Of course, I have to own it because it cannot be anyone else’s fault. Then, dissecting the issue: How did it happen, how could it have been prevented, what could we or should we do differently next time?
Of course, we do not always make the correct choice upon evaluating. So we go back to the drawing board. Each time, we get closer and closer to getting it right. This is motivating to me, but most importantly, it motivates my team, as well!
What resources/professional development/networking opportunities have you found helpful?
Hands down the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce has been invaluable. CDCC leadership is strong, knowledgeable, professional and committed to the advancement of the participating businesses. They have held professional development courses, economic summits, supplies support (during COVID), Zoom updates monthly, advertising, networking, motivation with constant communication. This is also another motivational tool to help new businesses with fresh ideas and market development.
SCORE has also been helpful in staying focused.
The Downtown Dover Partnership has also been a tremendous resource for networking, market development, advertising, a plethora of data regarding grant opportunities, information, instructions/direction on upcoming opportunities. ... This organization also saved us during the pandemic. They offered ideas to help drive revenue during the darkest hours. A “Zoom auction” is just one example of the activities they organized.
Combined, these organizations have been quintessential to our continued success. However, my unsolicited advice to new businesses would be join these organizations, follow them, stay active, and you will see results. You get out of it what you put into it.