We all hear and see a lot about the "soft life," as the concept dominates social and news media. The prospect of grinding for success seems taboo, almost as if hard work is something to loathe or avoid. However, as many of us know, it still takes deliberate effort, experience, and a bit of grit to reach higher levels of success, especially in business. And for Brittany Yates, a serial entrepreneur who prides herself in always thinking about how she can apply her skills to win in launching new platforms and enterprises, it's something she finds joy in doing, within reason.
Yates balances a 9-to-5 in communications and working to expand her business, all while pursuing a Ph.D. "There's nothing wrong with the soft life, but that life can look different for different people," she tells xoNecole. She was able to land investors for Grind On The Go through her network, and it helped that— even after putting a pitch deck together to map out the concept and funds needed— she'd already started other businesses that showed she had a go-getter spark. "They were like, we're in," Yates says. "I plan to do this full-time and I plan for expansion."
With about $56,000, she said, she was able to get the ball rolling. She also contacted a lawyer, got an accountant and consultant, tapped into Facebook groups for support and information, and from there, the coffee-centered brand and community came to life. The brand now has its own online retail portal, offers wholesale opportunities, and has a growing community of supporters and customers after launching during the pandemic.
Arleshia McGirt/Authorized Shot Photography
xoNecole: What was the inspiration behind Grind On The Go?
Brittany Yates: It comes from my love for hard work and my love for coffee. When I was getting my undergrad education, I would always go to a French bakery and it was [open] 24 hours. As I was in there, I'd see all these people on their laptops. Just being in a room full of people working motivated me to keep going. It just made me feel like, 'We all have a common goal. We're all working toward something.'
I kept working from there doing my schoolwork, and I said, 'You know what? I want to create a collaborative space where people can come and do what I love most, which is hard work—grind—and then coffee, which is the coffee grind.' It just came about with me being in a room of people who were grinding and I just wanted to create a community out of that.
xoN: Everybody's talking about pursuing the "soft life," which seems to be the antithesis of the "grind." You mentioned "hard work," so, as an entrepreneur, what's your take on how people see "grinding" as the opposite of the soft life?
Yates: People who are into the soft life mentality, I feel like that's fine. I don't feel like you have to choose between the two. I like living the soft life in that I like living the soft life in terms of how I like being pampered, I like vacationing, but I do like hard work, too. Regardless of how much I like being pampered, how much I like chilling, it's something in me that won't let me just do nothing. And not that the soft life is doing nothing, but I don't think you have to choose. You can have a soft life and a life where you work hard. Just because you work hard, doesn't mean you're not working smart.
xoN: With so many coffee companies out here, how have you been able to gain a foothold and build a community along with your brand?
Yates: For me, it's a couple of things. I always tell people, we're a coffee company but we're not just a coffee company. We encourage you to pursue your grind, whatever that grind might be, whether it's a stay-at-home mom or a student, an entrepreneur, or [a] 9-to-5 professional. While other coffee companies might have a mission, I haven't [come] across a coffee company that simply promotes [that]. We're launching a community called Girl on the Grind, a community aspect.
When you talk about a business meeting, people always meet over a cup of coffee. A coffee shop is where there's that common ground between people, where people come to meet, to have conversations. You can people-watch. Coffee is like comfort.
xoN: You're a professional, entrepreneur and student, how do you balance it all?
Yates: My mindset is that if it's something I really want to do, I can do it. [Some people would say] that's over-simplified, but for me, if I want to do something, I'm doing it. Another thing is time management. I time block, in a sense, so I'll say I'm working a certain amount [of time] on this, and a certain amount of time on that. I live in Google, and so I use the Suites for meetings, emails, calendars, [and] tasks. And my third thing is to just stay organized. For example, I have my Tasks lists [and] my Google Drive with different folders for different tasks for school, work, and my business. Organization is definitely key.
xoN: How are you measuring success for your business?
Yates: For me, customer feedback is a really big thing. I pride myself on exceptional customer service. It can literally make or break your business. [So, it's] hearing customer reviews [and] customer stories, saying, 'This coffee is so good,' or 'I referred to this person and that person.'
Also, the revenue portion. We started at the start of the pandemic, so it was like 'Oh my goodness.' We had so much happen. We originally started with a food truck. The food truck was stolen. We had to rebrand because then there was an issue with the original name we had. It was just a lot of things that we had to through at the beginning. So aside from the revenue, was our resilience. We didn't quit. I think that's a good measure of success because some people quit and you don't even know if you could do it because you stopped.
Also, what you get out of it (as the entrepreneur). I don't [go] in doing things just to do it, so I would say, your health and wellness is a measure of success. Am I happy just doing this? Am I still getting something out of what I'm doing?
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Featured image by Arleshia McGirt/Authorized Shot Photography