Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Conversation with Cuppa Bella...

Q)  How long have you lived in the area?

A) With exception to a few short years in the TriCities, both Tonya and I have lived in the area our entire lives.  I grew up in Kingston in the house my mom still lives in right across the street from Wolfle.  Tonya grew up in Poulsbo on Finn Hill in the same house her parents still live in.

Q) How much family history do you have in the area?

A) My family history isn't extensive, in the area compared to many of the storied family names.  My aunt and uncle moved out to Bainbridge in the late 50s and my mom moved out here from Pennsylvania in 1967 after nursing school.  My dad was in the Navy at the time and moved to the area after he was discharged.  At the time my mom moved out, my grandmother was still teaching in Doylestown but she and my grandfather moved out here in the mid-70s after she retired.  We've been here ever since.  Tonya's family has been in the area since the early 40s.

Q) What is your favorite thing about the area?

A) Other than the natural beauty of the area? Community.
Kingston is a true "small town".  You get the sense that folks that live here watch each others backs, they take care of their fellow citizens, they take care of their own town.  The volunteers in the Kingston area that come out for Town Cleanups, that put up the flower baskets, that put together the 4th of July are what makes this area so great.

Q) What would you change if you could about the area?

A) The only thing I would like to change is seeing more cooperation and communication between the various organizations in the area so that everyone is working toward the same goal, each with their own set of tasks to get there.  We started something like this with Rotary, Kiwanis, Kingston Food Bank, Port Gamble S'klallam Tribe, Kingston Rescue Mission, Sharenet Foodbank and Wolfle for the "Feed the Kids" program this past summer.  Sometimes, there's can be too much volunteer effort that it becomes scattered and small, creating a situation where each group is fighting for donations and volunteers.  If you can join the numerous small efforts to make our town better with one common visions and goal, a huge difference can be made in a short amount of time and you can eliminate the publics sense of annoyance at solicitation after solicitation for donations.  If we could all join together and target one issue at a time and resolve it before moving on to another as a group of volunteers and charities, great things could happen here.  And Kingston is the perfect place to do it.

Q) What made you start your own business?

A) Well, we didn't start Cuppa Bella.  Cuppa Bella was started by Mark and Karen Scholl in 1998 and the opportunity to purchase the business from them presented itself to us (by accident) last year.  Tonya had run her own daycare business out of our home for several years while I was commuting to Seattle to an IT executive job.  I had been looking for a way out of my commute for several years as I was losing time with our 4 children that I would never get back.  The cards just sort of fell into place last September.  I had planned on staying with my commute until February of this year but after ending up in Harborview after being hit on my motorcycle in December and our house burning down in January, it seemed best for me to stop commuting and focusing all of my energy on our business then.

Q) Where would you like to see your business be in 5 years?

A) We already have plans for a second location within the next 12 months. On the 5 year track, we're probably realistically looking at a 3rd location within that time.  It's a struggle for us right now since Tonya and I are so focused on the quality and consistency of what we serve that we spend 60-70 hours per week working in our business, I get up at 2am to do all the baking from scratch and Tonya comes in at noon to close up shop at 8pm.  We're not sure how additional locations will pan out for us in being able to maintain our high level of standards, but, we're not reinventing the wheel so we'll just have to look at how other successful entrepreneurs have done it.

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