Brittany Koester, owner of Azalea Coffee Bar, supports other female-owned businesses. (Photo provided by Azalea Coffee Bar)
Many visitors to Azalea Coffee Bar might find themselves in the Devine Street location just for a good cup of coffee.
But the coffee shop owner wants it to be known for more than that.
Brittany Koester uses her shop to support other female-owned businesses.
“Women have really played a significant role in building Azalea,” Koester said.
The shop collaborates with female artists and bakers by offering their products there. And a female DJ helps pump up the vibe.
And Azalea sources its coffee and tea from female-led farms.
Koester said there is a recent movement within the coffee industry to encourage more women to take on leadership roles.
“(I) decided to take that idea and run with it, and support women in everything that we do,” she said.
Azalea will be celebrating its two-year anniversary Sunday. Koester says the shop also will be honoring “the women that have made this shop possible.” Celebrations will feature the women who have worked with the shop. They will share news about their businesses, sell their products and enjoy the community that supports them.
Women helped develop the company’s branding. Women have their art featured in the shop. Other women have their products for sale in the store.
“Azalea has been a cornerstone in our success,” said Resh Mahadkar, co-owner of Sakhar Jams. “We’ve done markets every which way, but nobody brings us quite as much money as Azalea does.”
And because of the support it receives from the local community, Sakhar Jams, like other businesses, gives back. The spirited artisanal jam company sources 95% of the fruit for its jams from South Carolina farms.
The feeling of support reaches beyond Azalea. Iris and Marie Press helped create Azalea Coffee Bar’s brand, but it also sees support from other businesses.
“I’ve surrounded myself with female-owned businesses,” said Shana Wanco, owner of Iris and Marie, a branding and artistry company. “It’s kind of been my life. … It encapsulates everything. … In Columbia, there’s a lot of (female-owned businesses) and we’re all very supportive of one another.”
The shop also plans to do more than just celebrate the women it has worked alongside.
A portion of its sales on Sunday will be donated to the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, or WREN, a South Carolina organization seeking to advance women’s rights.
The women who know Koester say her passion is a part of the shop’s success.
“She’s just super open-minded and loves to give women a platform,” Mahadkar said. “I’ve seen it for myself and I’ve seen it for the other women that she has helped in the past two years.”
Koester hopes the business will grow and even hopes to even open a second location.
For any women looking to get a start owning their own business, these owners have similar advice.
“The best thing to do is just start talking to other women-owned businesses and forming relationships,” Wanco said.
Artwork by local female artists are featured throughout the shop. (Photo by Hanna Schatteman)
Azalea Coffee Bar has a stand in their shop with items for sale from female-owned businesses. (Photo by Hanna Schatteman)
Azalea Coffee Bar will host its two-year anniversary event at their location. (Photo by Hanna Schatteman)