Featurepreneur: Sip a Cup, Save a Pup!
Genevieve Allen Hearn
Rescue Coffee Co. is a business built around a cause. Roasted in Lakeville, and owned and operated by Wolfville native Claire Vaughan, the organic fair trade coffee company donates 10% of profits to partnering animal rescue organizations. Claire now lives in Moncton (with her pup, of course!) where she runs the business out of her home office. After just two short years on the market, Rescue Coffee can be found in retail stores across five provinces. The Grapevine caught up with Claire to find out what it takes to run a successful social enterprise.
The Grapevine (GV): How were you struck with inspiration for Rescue Coffee?
Claire Vaughan (CV): Rescue Coffee actually came from a place of unhappiness in my life. After I graduated with my business degree from Dalhousie, I went right into the corporate world and started my journey up the ladder. While people around me were telling me I was making all the right moves, I couldn’t help but notice an intense feeling of emptiness and the lack of fulfillment. I’ve always loved animals and had an entrepreneurial spirit. While keeping these two things close to mind, I knew I had to create my own business if I wanted to be happy AND make a difference, which was both an exciting and terrifying realization.
GV: What relationship do you have with the animal rescue organizations that are the recipients of the 10% of your proceeds?
CV: I have wonderful relationships with my animal rescue partners. They’re an incredibly devoted and hard-working group of people that many times don’t get the credit they deserve. We only partner with rescue organizations that do everything they can to ensure the animals that come into their care get the best chance at a happy life. These animals stay in their care until they are adopted, meaning the clock doesn’t run out for them. Our rescue partners also focus on rehabilitation and providing sometimes very expensive medical treatment for the animals.
GV: What would you say are your entrepreneurial strengths that helped you get a small business off the ground?
CV: Growing up in Wolfville, I was surrounded by people with an entrepreneurial spirit who wanted to contribute to their community in a positive way. I went to business school, but I believe that starting a business is mostly about working through challenges, making mistakes and continuously driving towards getting better. I also had a lot of help along the way, especially from the company that roasts my coffee, Nova Coffee. Nova Coffee is a family-owned business that has been roasting coffee in Nova Scotia for over 40 years. I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to roast and prepare an exceptional cup of coffee from them. I simply could not have gotten this far without a great deal of support and help from others.
GV: Do you have any tips for others that would like to support a cause through a social enterprise?
CV: I say DO IT! Social enterprises are the way of the future. Not only are they creating more financial support for worthy causes, but they’re creating awareness and educating people about issues. Another really important element is quality. You can sell anything to anyone once, but a great product that they truly enjoy will keep them coming back.
For more information about Rescue Coffee Co. visit rescuecoffeeco.com. Rescue Coffee can be found at The Market in Wolfville or Noggins Corner in Greenwich.