Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

THINK POSITIVE: Former Waking Life Espresso barista Sarah Winkler, right, and her business partner Lindsey Pitman are working on plans to open a downtown café supporting women. Winkler views running the business as a daily opportunity to show her gratitude for the community support she's received. Still frame from Winkler's campaign video

UPDATE: As announced on Monday, Oct. 5, Izzy’s Coffee Den will take over the space formerly leased by Waking Life Espresso.

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Battlecakes café

Asheville entrepreneurs are brainstorming replacements for West Asheville’s Waking Life Espresso in the wake of the owners’ recent scandal. As reported by the Citizen Times, however, it’s not yet clear whether business partners Jacob Owens and Jared Rutledge are planning to sell their business. One potential replacement, though, is a cafe called Battlecakes. Dreamed up by Short Street Cakes owner Jodi Rhoden and BattleCat Coffee Bar owner Amber Arthur, the new venture would be “a source of support, love and healing for women in our community,” according to the duo’s crowdfunding page. In addition to donating 5 percent of gross sales to local, womencentric nonprofits, the business would host community events with an emphasis on battling sexism and sexual violence. Rhoden and Arthur aim to raise $18,000 to purchase Waking Life’s assets, take over the lease and cover start up costs like branding, furniture, signage and savings for payroll. “What do you say, Asheville?” reads the campaign. “Should two West Asheville women entrepreneurs pirate this sinking ship and steer it towards calmer waters?”

Image from BattleCakes campaign page
Image from Battlecakes campaign page

Trade & Lore Coffee

Trade & Lore Coffee, too, is a proposed café with a focus on empowering women, but founder and former Waking Life employee Sarah Winkler and business partners Lindsey Pitman and Brock Kehoe are attempting to secure a lease downtown. Specifically, they’re after the spot (89 Patton Ave.) that Owens and Rutledge were previously pursuing as a second location. “Though unfortunate, this situation has given the community the opportunity to express its commitment to inclusiveness, equality and awareness,” reads the campaign page. “Continuing that commitment, Trade and Lore Coffee will provide the same high quality coffee product while also supporting those ideals. We intend to work closely with like-minded, local nonprofits and businesses, to provide a fair living wage for staff and to source our ingredients locally, using Mountain Air Roasting coffee, local bakers and purveyors.” Winkler says planning this project — one that may turn negative events into something constructive for a community that’s been extremely supportive of her — has been an emotional process. In addition to monies secured offline, the barista-turned-businesswoman and her partners aim to raise $15,000 by Tuesday, Dec. 1, to help finish the building’s upfit, purchase equipment, prepare a storefront and hire and train staff.

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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