June 10, 2016

There comes a time in everyone's life where they just have to move on -- that time for me is NOW.  When I founded and opened Songbird Coffee & Tea House back in July of 2012 with my business partner, Erin Westgate, I never could have imagined where it would take me.  I never could have imagined the hard work, dedication and passion it would take for me to build a small independent coffee & tea house into one of the best in the entire state of Arizona. It wasn't easy creating the necessary social media outlets (building them one-by-one), socializing with new and potential customers online, tweeting with regulars and local anchors to create a buzz that would ultimately create press write-ups, live news segments and overall content that would help shape Songbird into what it is now.  

Photograph courtesy of Esther Martinez (Where it began: early July of 2012)

It wasn't easy learning new tricks, researching new social media trends, creating unique photographs and marketing campaigns, but I did it for our clientele and had hopes it would eventually reach new customers too.  I know that it did.  I know that if I could start over again, I would change the person I was in 2012 into the person I am today, but I cannot go back.  I can only press forward and leave behind a great business partner, a superior staff and a beautiful 1907 house and continue to support a business I founded and created.  I believe that without me, Songbird will make the necessary strides to make up for emotional goodbyes.  I believe without me, Songbird will continue to be successful and grow.  Erin, who is the other half of Songbird has more passion about coffee and people than anyone I have ever known.  She is a leader.  She is a loving, intelligent and thoughtful human being.  Erin is now the present and future of Songbird Coffee & Tea House.  I ask you to continue supporting Songbird and give her the encouragement that everything happens for a reason and it will all work out in the end because this is a new beginning for us all.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Warren Carroll (the beginning of Songbird, 2012)

I have such vivid memories of how this all came to be -- a piece of scratch paper, a pen, an idea, a concept.  I recall the 25-page business plan.  I remember the fluctuation of business names (some quite interesting, others based on Rush songs, none of which obviously worked).  We put our heads together and pursued this "dream" of opening a coffee & tea house in the arts district (Roosevelt Row) in Phoenix, Arizona.  We had a "no fail" attitude and truly believed in ourselves and what were embarking on -- a risk, an opportunity to be different than other shops, to be a game-changer.  Together, we accomplished all of this and more, but it eventually became an emotional rollercoaster of power struggles, of he said/she said, a psychological war, if you will. Life in general is a struggle at times, but affiliating a marriage into a business will result in devastation, regret and bitterness.  There isn't a marriage on this planet or any other that could survive the stress, anger, resentment and tears that are all wrapped into one memory.  I like to think about the positives while turning negatives into new experiences and learning from mistakes that caused them in the first place.  I know Erin will do the same.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Warren Carroll (the new beginning at 812 -- transitioning from the monOrchid to 812 North 3rd Street)

In a world made up of forks in the road, we are here to make decisions on choosing which path to go on, the left or the right. These choices ultimately make and shape us into the individuals we are today.  I myself have made my share of poor choices and bad decisions, but I can honestly say that I don't regret any of them. Essentially, what I mean is that I feel pain like most of us, but I don't allow my decision making to effect the overall outcome of my day and more importantly, the story of my life.  If I question every choice I make, I might as well stay in bed all day and nobody wants to live like that, do they?  Of course not.  Perhaps I should think of a road as a dinner knife -- straight and narrow and I can just move ahead without having to choose. Maybe it would make things so much easier, but probably not.  My apologies for getting all philosophical on you, but my point is that sometimes in life, you can't always predict what's next on the horizon and this is the case with me & Songbird.  To use a baseball analogy, sometimes "life throws you a curveball."  Instead of taking a called third strike and giving up, wait a bit longer and once that ball is in your zone, hit it on the sweet spot for a base hit.  I'm only at first base now, but eventually I'll make my way home again.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Warren Carroll (not a fork in the road)

To quote my favorite local band, Sketching In Stereo, "Wherever you may find yourself...one day" is exactly how I feel at this point in my life.  I'm 38.  I am fortunate to have a great supporting cast in my family and close friends.   I now have over four years of social media, marketing, photography, unique and creative writing, booking, event planning, logo concepts, branding, advertising and promotions under my belt because of Songbird Coffee & Tea House.  I can take what I have grasped and learned and use it with a local advertising/PR/social media firm and I look forward to new challenges and experiences in the present and future, not only assisting other small and independent coffee shops around the state of Arizona with my new venture, 1912 Coffee, but I hope to work full-time as a social media manager or coordinator helping small businesses gain more exposure and awareness as well.  Life is a puzzle. We keep striving to find the pieces that fit perfectly in order to solve it.  I'm pretty close.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Warren Carroll 

Without further ado, I would like to personally thank the following people in saying goodbye:  First and foremost, my business partner, Erin Westgate.  My mother and father, Alan & Wendy. My brother Andrew and sister-n-law, Paige. Erin's mother and father, Jim & Donna. Erin's sister, Lauren.  Our roaster, Ron Cortez.  Our loose leaf tea source and CEO of Maya Tea Company, Manish Shah.  Amazing artist/muralist/graphic designer, Isaac Caruso. Photographer Esther Martinez for taking photographs of Songbird pre-opening in 2012 (a few of her shots above). Graphic designer Kristine Deininger for creating online and physical music postcards for our live music on most Friday nights. The skill-set of Charles Drown -- with the assistance of his lovely wife, Dulce, built the current Songbird bookshelves.  Mike & Kristin Pfeifer for supporting us since Day 1, for being our 1st customers too, Bob & Patricia PfeiferBailey Carlin for her social media expertise, Jenny Poon and the amazing people at CO+HOOTS for being a huge part of Songbird in 2012, attorney Lora Sanders for choosing Songbird to host her "Cafe O'Law" once-per-month free legal advice sessions, Paul Kenjora, CEO of AwareLabs/TabHere for introducing TabHere to us and his words of advice on many facets, Mikey Avila for being our first ever employee (great guy, full of character, couldn't have done it without you), Tom & Katie HolmbergEric Battersby & Jennifer Gunther for helping us move out of the MonOrchid in 2014 and the use of Tom's truck (lifesaver), Cindy DachGreg EsserNicole UnderwoodCory KincaidBrandi Porter for welcoming us to Roosevelt Row in 2012 and supporting us ever since.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Warren Carroll (bird in a tree at 812 North 3rd Street)

Finally, thank you to those who I've hired in the past for your hard work (most recently, thank you Michelle) and those that are currently employed here at Songbird -- Hannah, Payton, Eileen, Lilly and newcomer Elisa.  Erin and I couldn't have done all of this without you.  I will forever be grateful.  

If I have forgotten to thank anyone here, my sincere apologies, but you know who you are.  

It's been a great ride for the last four + years, but it's time to fly in a different direction.

"In a tree by the brook, there's a Songbird who sings sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven" -- Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin.