Coffee culture is a thing. Just ask the two Chapman University alum, Jackie Clark and Michelle Hadley, who are behind "Babes With Coffee"—an Orange County-based blog dedicated to celebrating all types of women and their cup of joe.
Based on the blog's strong following on Instagram, it's easy to cast off Babes With Coffee as another "influencer" account, but the ladies behind the blog are not only showcasing women and their coffee, they're also selling their own coffee roasts, coffee-centric merchandise, and giving back to local domestic violence charities such as Laura's House. According to Hadley and Clark, Babes With Coffee is about inspiring female empowerment through a female-fronted business all while praising girl power and the coffee that fuels it. The Weekly recently spoke to Clark and Hadley about what Babes With Coffee is all about and what to expect at their official launch party tomorrow at Wayfare.
OC Weekly (Denise De La Cruz): What exactly
Michelle Hadley: The backstory is that Jackie Clark roomed with me not too long ago [at Chapman] and we talked about starting a female focused company. We wanted something that was about girls, supporting girls, by girls. [Babes With Coffee] is about featuring other girls out in the world experiencing coffee and celebrating themselves. What I like about it is that Jackie really just looks for artistic photography so you don't have to have a certain look. Anyone can be a babe with coffee. It's a fun way for girls to be a part of a conversation. When I came along, I said let's turn this into a business because this is really cute and fun and girls love it.
Jackie Clark: I'm lucky to have great female friends and influences in my life and almost every single one of them loves coffee as much as I do. I'm the type of girl who always wants to take pictures of my friends, especially at coffee shops. There's something about coffee and women that the camera loves. I've noticed the judgment that comes along with girls taking pictures and posting them on social media. Women get way too much flack for doing things that make them happy or feel good. We need to be supporting girls and not judging them and that truly is the basis of "Babes." These girls are beautiful, inside and out, and it’s important that as women we lift each other up. So, keep taking those pictures, ladies!
Why is "coffee culture" appealing?
Jackie: Coffee culture is unique in that it brings people together. Every coffee shop I have been to is so much more than a place to get coffee. It's a place to have a first date, a job interview, meet up with friends, go listen to music or see new art. I think the idea that coffee fosters connection and community
Michelle: Coffee shops were a really big place where people exchanged ideas and I think the French Revolution is where this really became a big thing. Coffee houses are places where people connect to their community, they share ideas, they learn, they work. Especially if you're an entrepreneur or a student and you don't necessarily have an office—it's a great place to work because you get to see other people, you get to experience things and of course, you get to enjoy great coffee at the same time.
Why would people be interested in supporting Babes With Coffee?
Jackie: The great thing about "Babes" is that it truly is about bringing together a community of women and empowering them. The blog, the Instagram, the whole thing would not be possible without everyone who tags and contributes to us. I think that is what makes it so appealing and interesting. Plus, we're talking about one of the most beloved things all around the world…coffee.
Michelle: It's cool to see more female-owned business especially in the coffee industry because a lot of it is male owned or male launched. There is a female presence in the coffee industry but not as much as I'd like to see. It takes money to launch a company and that is a huge struggle for female entrepreneurs.
Babes With Coffee is not just a blog, it's also a business with its own coffee roasts, subscription service, merch and coffee party catering service. Do you plan to open a brick and mortar too?
Michelle: Our coffee is just selling online. You can have it delivered to your dorm room but the experience of going to a coffee shop is totally different from drinking coffee at home, right? And that's where we're almost making the distinction. Our coffee is for you at home or in your dorm room but we still want to support local coffee shops because the experience of going to a coffee shop is so much a part of what you do as a coffee babe. To us, it's not mutually exclusive and we want to support all our cool local shops, I mean, without them we wouldn't have a coffee community in Orange County.
Speaking of supporting women, why did you both decide to donate to 5% of Babes With Coffee's proceeds to Laura's House?
Jackie: Michelle and I both felt strongly that if we were going to launch products, part of the proceeds should be donated to a cause that was female oriented. Given what Michelle has been through, she felt strongly about choosing Laura’s House because she connected with the cause and message.
Michelle: I think for both Jackie and I it was very important that we did something that gave back to the community. I've always known about Laura's House I think it's a really great organization in Orange County. They've got a really great sub-division called Heart, it teaches younger people about healthy attitudes and emotions in relationships. I like that they take into account that if you get people educated early on you might actually prevent domestic violence from ever happening. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure to me. Obviously, we're not going to single-handedly end domestic violence but if we can help in a small way that was important to us. Interestingly enough, Orange County has higher rates of domestic violence. It's shocking and saddening and there are a lot of things underlying domestic violence and what causes it but if you have more women in positions of influence you can create organizations that change cultures. I think it's about putting women in positions of power and shifting that balance and shifting that dynamic in this
What's your favorite coffee shop and what are you ordering there?
Jackie: My favorite coffee shop is Alta Coffee in Newport, the coffee there is to die for. Personally, I'm not into really complicated orders. I love a good Americano anywhere I go.
Michelle: I initially got into coffee when I studied abroad in Italy. I never had coffee before that but ever since then, I'm always seeking out a really good cup of coffee because when you get back it's just not the same. That's why I really like Cappuccinos—because it's in my roots— and Americanos too. But I typically go for a medium roast coffee—you know something in the middle. And I really like Mexican coffees too but I also like Sumatra. I like it all.
So, what can people expect for the official launch party at Wayfare?
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Michelle: We're branching out from IG and turning into a tangible community event at the Wayfare. Raffle proceeds will go to Laura's House and you can sample our coffee sold on our website.
Jackie: Coffee, drinks, donuts, giveaways, and so much more. It's going to be packed full of wonderful, strong, intelligent women from all over Orange County who are all there to network and support an awesome cause.
Babes With Coffee's official launch party is tomorrow (March 4th) at Wayfare from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
270 Baker St, Suite 200., Costa Mesa. Free. Register for the event here.