“Changing your entire life seems like it would take just you, but it doesn’t. It takes a team of people who believe that a dream can become a reality. My reality is mine, but it didn’t happen because of me alone.”
Holly: What would you call yourself and what you do?
Julie: I am an artist, a business owner and a barista. I love to paint and am lucky to have a gallery, gift shop and coffee bar to show my work and the work of other local artists. We carry a full line of organic coffees and unique gift items and women’s clothing and accessories and ART!
Holly: What area do you reside and/ or work?
Julie: I have lived in Lake Villa my entire life.
Holly: How long has it taken you to get to the level you’re at now? What has been involved?
Julie: Painting has been a life long love for me. I really came into my own when I started taking art courses at CLC 17 years ago. My love for watercolor began with my first day of Watercolor class with my instructor Bob Lossman. With his guidance, I learned to paint with watercolor and now am lucky to have commission work on a regular basis. The coffee shop is a new venture. I spent over 20 years in my family business which is new home construction. I reinvented myself and opened the shop a little over a year ago. I researched the coffee business, read books, talked to industry professionals and taught myself to make specialty coffees (with the help of many You Tube videos). With my experience in my family business, lots of help from my friends and family… I opened Julie’s Coffee November 21, 2011. I have a great business partner who is a accomplished photographer that I share the space with. Together, we have built a successful new business. Putting in the coffee bar insured a steady stream of customers and they are then exposed to our work. Everything worked just like we planned.
Holly: Who in particular or in general has helped you grow in your avocation to become who you are today compared to when you began?
Julie: I could give you many names in answer to this question. But, my husband Chris has been instrumental in the person I am today. I am very conservative, Chris gives the the confidence I need to go outside my comfort zone. Opening the shop was his idea… without him, I don’t know if I would have made the move. I get lots of support from my friends and family too. Changing your entire life seems like it would take just you, but it doesn’t. It takes a team of people who believe that a dream can become a reality. My reality is mine, but it didn’t happen because of me alone.
Holly: What critical decisions did you have to make along the way to becoming who you are today? Along with that idea, what are some of the major challenges you face or have faced?
Julie: I had to make a decision to risk everything. Starting a business is scary, to be honest. It is exciting too, but mostly scary. I left a career that I was comfortable in and knew very very well, to start a business I had no experience in. My challenges have been learning to be all the parts of a business: Owner, Manager, Employee, Accountant, Janitor, Customer Service Rep… and everyone else! Along with all these jobs, I still have to find time for my family, my painting… and lastly Me. Maybe the real answer to the question of my major challenge is Time Management.
Holly: What mistakes have you made or lessons have you learned?
Julie: I underestimated the work involved in owning a small business. It is amazing how many tasks there are to complete to make it all work. As involved as I was in my family business, it didn’t fully prepare me for owning my own small business. You don’t have down time, you have always have your radar up and running, looking for new ideas and ways to keep things moving and growing. No time to rest.
Holly: How do you balance your professional and personal life?
Julie: This question makes me laugh. This is Truly my biggest challenge. You see, I wake up at 4 am to get up, out and open by 5:30 am. This means I go to be at about 8:30pm. Getting home most nights at 6pm…. see the problem?
I do my best to keep things as normal as I can, but the truth is, it is hard. I get pretty tired… I save my Sundays for my Husband and my step daughter and my dogs. I think it is just part of getting settled into a new schedule and pattern. I am hoping this second year, I can find some more time for us and me.
Holly: What people have you looked up to, respected or admired?
Julie: I look up to a number of people. Mostly those who make a difference in people’s lives… through what they give back. Maybe it is with art or music. Maybe they are just people, people want to be with or around. I don’t think it has anything to do with money, it is more to do with the feeling they give… the energy they have. I admire people who make other people smile, feel good and safe.
Holly: How do you refresh, recharge and stay motivated?
Julie: I have 2 wonderful dogs, Maggie and Gauge. When I can have an hour here and there, Maggie, Gauge and I run together…well jog… some days just walk. Whatever we do, it is how I recharge. The time I spend with them is my way of forgetting everything and enjoying the moment. I don’t spend enough time with them now and the time I do get with them… I cherish. I don’t have children of my own… so they are my kids.
Holly: What inspires you?
Julie: People. In my business, I meet lots of different kinds of people. Big and Small. I love my customers. They lift me up, choose to spend time with me and support me. They help me see that I have something to offer and trust me with their stories. They appreciate my hard work, my art work and my efforts. Lets face it, there are many other places to patronize, yet they come to me, that is a huge deal and I am very thankful for it.
Holly: What advice might you have to someone starting out in your profession/ avocation?
Julie: Wow… do your homework, do your research. Go into it with your eyes open. Don’t underestimate the work to be done. Never ever cut corners. The American Dream is lots of work! If you are going to do it, then strap in, pull it tight and go for it. Be willing to take chances. No one who has ever made it, made it by doing it half way. It is 100% or skip the whole idea. And, you have to be willing to do it ALL. There are 2 kinds of people in this world: Guts People and Glory People, you have to be the Guts kind… the Glory will come, but not after lots of work.
Holly: In what ways do you develop awareness of your business?
Julie: By watching and listening to your customers and the people that work with you. Listening and learning from other business owners is key. Networking events are really important. You can learn so much from other people. Visit other businesses like yours. Sit and listen, watch and learn.
Holly: Have you ever had a particularly funny or embarrassing moment, and if so, please share it!
Julie: YES! It has to do with my art business. I enter lots of juried art shows. In order to do that you have to submit photographs of your work. Back in the “old days” you sent in photos of your work, of course today you can submit digital files. This has to do with taking your time and triple checking…. I went to a class on entering shows. They were showing examples of the ‘wrong’ way to submit photos… one of them had part of a foot showing at the corner of the photo of the painting the artist submitted. Everyone laughed. IT WAS MY FOOT! I was so embarrassed! I get intso rushed and in a hurry that I neglect taking the time to go over my work and check it a couple of times for accuracy. Lesson Learned. It was the most embarrassing that ever happened to me.
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