My next Small Business Feature is my favorite Coffeeshop in all of Waukesha… conveniently located about a block from my house! I told the owner, Diana, that I was hooked from the moment we moved in – thanks to a wonderful little housewarming gift from our new neighbors, a gift card to Mama D’s.
Mama D’s is really a special place. The decor is cozy and charming. The smells of the freshly-baked goods is divine… and of course the aroma of the coffee (Valentine Coffee Co.) is, as well! There are three Mama D’s locations (the other two being in Wales and Genesee Depot [ really close to my old studio actually! ]) but all of the bakery is done at the Waukesha location by the one and only Debbie. They use exclusively local, organic, free range eggs from Three Brothers Farm in Oconomowoc. Soups are from The Soup Market in Milwaukee (yum!)
(I was unreasonably excited to get to go behind the counter for these pictures. I find the whole process of making fancy coffees fascinating!)
I asked Mama D herself why she decided to open up her first coffeeshop:
I am a mom of three who decided to open a coffee shop when the kids flew the nest. I have a background in dietetics and a volunteer community spirit and these two things combined brought the coffee shop adventure to fruition. A yearning to revive an old building into a community coffee shop adding amazing employees, serving great local coffee, delicious sandwiches, soups and salads along with in-house bakery. It all came together!
Her favorite part about being a business owner?
Knowing people of all ages and walks of life come to a Mama Ds Coffee shop and enjoy what we do.
Her biggest challenge has been finding a good work/life balance. That sounds familiar – it’s something I struggle with as well.
This is not a typical 9-5 job with weekends off. It is three shops open 7 days a week so finding work/life balance has to be intentional or the balance can go awry. [A typical day is:] up at 5:30 beginning with 30 minutes to set the tone for the day with a meditation/prayer/devotion time and then hit the emails and needs of the shops! I am a hands on boss, communicating daily with my managers and making rounds equipping them so they can do what they do best….take care of our customers! Bed by 10:00 and it begins again!
Something you’d be surprised to know about Mama D?
I did not have one stitch of business sense when I began.
Protip from Kara: you HAVE to try the sour cream muffins. O M G are they amazing.
Ali hard at work, whipping up one of my favorite drinks – a latte. (When I visit Mama D’s, they can usually count on me to order a Peppermint Patty! So good!)
I asked her how she decided on location(s) for her shops:
My first shop in Wales is near where I live. It made sense. Waukesha came about because my Wales landlord purchased the Old Boy Blue building on Hartwell and asked me if I would do what I did in Wales. That was 2.5 years ago. It is a location where my baker, Debbie can produce bakery for all three shops. It was a good move.
[Waukesha] has heart and soul. It is growing. It has embraced Mama Ds Coffee at 928 Hartwell Ave.
Her advice to aspiring business owners?
You can do it!! Hard work. Long hours. A beautiful thing to watch grow but it takes a village. Be a good boss. Care about your people.