Meet Naiman and Brigette with Corona Coffee Co
Interview with Naiman Rigby and Brigette Hutchison, conducted by local REALTOR® Kathy Sokolic
Describe your business.
We are a coffee shop. Coffee, tea, and gifts.
Brigette has a degree in costume design and all the jewelry is made by her. My mother-in-law created all the art on the walls.
What made you decide to open this business?
We purchased the coffee shop in April 2013 from the second owners.
What has surprised you most when owning a business?
It’s important in life to continue to be surprised. Impermanence exists in everything, even death. Every day that I keep the shop going, it’s not easy and it’s surprising. The fact that my wife and I have been able to work together constructively for the last two years and not kill each other is healthy and awesome. And also how successful we’ve been, but how much work there is left to do. It’s always something.
Sales tax is highly affecting small businesses to operate and function. It’s hard to know if your prices are too high or not. Customer expectations can be interesting – they may not understand a space that is built around love instead of consumerism. To continue providing this space, it takes a level of humanism and care. There is always going to be someone who barks an order to me, but the rest of the customers and I say hello. It’s the most integral part to our success.
What would your customers say they love most about your business?
The atmosphere and the quality of the coffee. The current coffee is an organic, fair-trade coffee, Peruvian. Coffee is seasonal, so we’ll move to a new coffee soon. Having the owner-operators here, every day, we are able to maintain the quality for each customer. If you don’t like your coffee, please tell us!
What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had working with a customer?
Every day. This place, a “third place,” is full of love and circumstance and conversations. You come for a coffee, but you find so much more. Coffee is a substance of magic and one of the most complex things you can drink, and caffeine helps open your mind and make you more creative. People come here to break down complex things, and find humanism and art, which are the most important things.
What do you do outside of work?
I play harmonica, and I play music with my dad (we have a gig every third Tuesday of the month at Kick Butt Coffee). I play a lot of Pokémon Go, since I quit smoking…I found a new addiction! I don’t drive, so this game was made for me. We have a lot of family in town, so we spend some time with them. People may have seen Tobias, one of our nephews, in the shop.
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
I feel like I am an entrepreneur. I’m also a very privileged person – a white, cis-gendered heterosexual male. At least half of my success is stacked on this. To be a good entrepreneur, you should be aware of who you are and the positives within there. No matter what you do, if you want to be successful, you have to have positive character traits – honesty, integrity, flexibility, adaptability. It starts with character. This is how I perform as an entrepreneur.
Anyone can set up a coffee machine and make lattes, but there’s a difference. Coffee shops in Austin have a lot of love in them, and support one another. A lot of the small businesses in Austin really support each other.
Do you have any advice that you want to share with other entrepreneurs?
Stay true to yourself and do what you love, not for the money, but so you can keep doing what you love.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you want customers to know about?
Always. I’d love for this place to be larger than life, with 100 espresso machines all manned by people just like me who want to make your dreams come true in a cup. Whether or not we can expand is always about timing, and it’s just not time right now.
What do you love about this neighborhood?
We have a lot of resources in the neighborhood for community, a lot of opportunities. We have great parks, great growth, a lot of opportunity for input, great representation at the city level. The neighborhood association is also well constructed here, and we have a lot of small businesses that work with the community.
Why do you think it’s important for people to shop local?
Everything works more efficiently on a smaller scale. Local is indicative of the people around you – you have more control over quality.