I’m a strong believer in following your path and going where ever your heart may lead you. Taking that initial (and terrifying) leap may end up being one of the best decisions you make.
That’s exactly what Alison Mumford, owner and main operator of The Roost Cafe in King did. She left her corporate, nine-to-five job to open her dream cafe. “I was nervous, scared, excited and relieved.” says Alison. “I had major anxiety about leaving a job that I enjoyed, but knew deep down that it was not for me. It was also scary financially to take the risk, but my family and my partner were, and still are, very supportive. Mostly I was excited. I will never forget the day that I met with my now landlord, who showed me the café space pre-renovations, all I could see was potential. The old house with all its character and charm was perfect.”
The cafe has people around the city talking about its warm, historic atmosphere, delicious menu items and smiling employees. Not only does the cafe give you those warm and fuzzy feelings, it also features a different artist every month, to support local artisans; something We Three always applauds!
I had a chat with Alison about her making her big decision, the ups and downs of a new business and where she sees herself in the future.
FIRST OFF, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
“I am a 28 year old business owner. I grew up in King City and then moved to Ottawa to get my undergraduate degree in Health Sciences. I spent a little bit of time travelling through Europe and across Canada following graduation, and ended up living in the mountains of Whistler on the west coast for several years. I had always worked in cafes, during school and then managing 7 locations in Whistler’s village. I am now very proud to say that I opened my own café in King City.”
HOW HARD WAS IT TO TAKE THAT INITIAL JUMP INTO OPENING THE CAFE?
“It’s crazy, but as soon as I had made the decision to leave my old job, I felt instant relief. I knew immediately that I had made the right decision. As scary as it was leaving a job with financial security, in which promised growth and a future within the company, I was not happy. Though the road ahead was not clear, and ultimately not straightforward, I was excited for my new adventure.
The staff at the York Small Business Enterprise were extremely helpful. They set me up with business plan templates, market research, advisors and other business council that were helpful throughout the process. Initially, renovations were meant to be finished by early December, which meant a possible Christmas opening for me. Looking back, I was thankful for the extra time to learn and plan more. The café opened April 1, 2016.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED WITH HOW QUICKLY THE CAFE HAS HAD SUCCESS?
“I am humbled by the support and advocacy I have received from community members and patrons. I am very proud of the success we have seen so far, but it is far from where I want it to be. I’m still new and still learning – my customers are very dear to me and I want to provide them with the best. Most of what I have heard from customers is that a place like The Roost was long overdue in King, so its not surprising that people have flocked to it.”
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
“The ability to adapt, be creative and give it my all. I love that each day brings something new, and that I am constantly learning new things.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE CAFE?
“Everything! Even when I’m exhausted, walking up to the café early in the morning, before the traffic and the sun, I feel an excitement about my day. I love when customers walk in for the first time and are wowed by the cozy atmosphere, the view, the baked goods, and of course – the coffee. I also like that the café is uniquely mine. I can tell you all the perfect imperfections from renovations, that each square inch has its own story.
Above it all, I love my customers; whether they are one of my regulars and we get to chat each morning, or they’ve stopped over because they saw the sign, I love getting to know people and hearing everyone’s stories. I love the small community building around The Roost.”
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
“Ha – Everything. The stress. Not knowing what to do. Not having money to do what I want to do. Not knowing if you’re going to make money. Not having time to see your family or friends – though they know where to find me! Knowing I can’t take a sick day, even when I really don’t want to go in. It’s probably different for me then for other business owners. If you don’t feel like answering emails one day, your customers will still be there tomorrow (hopefully!). I can’t just not show up, and some days it’s really hard to go in. I sort of equate running the café to having a baby; it needs to be fed, and changed and burped and loved. You can’t ignore it. You can’t sleep in. You are in a constant state of exhaustion and stress, but you are so happy.”
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE BUSINESS IN 5 YEARS?
“Expanding and diversifying. I would like to offer more business and event catering; more holistic and natural products; and to host more community events. I would also like to improve on sourcing more local produce, reducing my carbon footprint and supporting community initiatives. Having multiple locations or outsourcing product to other locations.”
ANY ADVICE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS AND TAKE THE LEAP?
“Jump in – it’s scary and thrilling but it will be worth it in the end. Ask for advice; ask for help; delegate the small stuff; learn the difference between something that is important but not urgent, and something urgent but not important – and try to balance the two; learn from other’s mistakes; stand fully and completely behind your services or products. If you don’t, why should your customers.
Remember to enjoy the ride, even if it’s bumpy. There was a very sobering moment when I was painting the ceiling of the café, 15’ high with an extension brush. It was day 3 of painting and my arms, neck and shoulders were sore. I was alone, cold, hungry and without a working bathroom. All in all, I had every right not to be enjoying my day, but I stood there and decided that even though this particular part wasn’t so fun, the end result is so worth it. Sometimes changing your attitude can make a big difference.
Remember that nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy. I remind myself of that every day. No one said it was easy. Take a step back, a deep breath, and get it done”
LASTLY, HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?
“Black. Pure and simple.”
We Three Collective is lucky enough to be the featured artist for the month of October at the cafe! If you live in the King City area be sure to check it out!
PHOTOS VIA // Kyleigh Hunter