We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Collins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
“Risk” is something that impacts every aspect of life. As an entrepreneur, it goes without saying that my assessment of risk would vary significantly from a banker or an insurer (for example). That does not mean that I discount how others perceive risk but key for me is about interpreting others’ risk assessments and then molding them into mine. Our business risk was greatest when we started over 5 years ago as , statistically, most small businesses fail in the first few years of operations. Understanding risk might also unearth opportunities and so risk, at its very base level, makes you think about, plan and execute operations that mitigate them. Personally, I have been exposed to business risk since my late teens while still at school as my family exited the corporate world and commenced the first of many successful start-ups. The thrill remains, and the fear never completely abates when thinking about ways to make our business succeed. My suggestion is to embrace and understand risks and deal with them head-on. The better control you have over them, the more likely you will be successful and never be afraid to discuss risks with experts. Most professionals have invaluable experiences to share.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our food truck business was built from scratch, the same way we craft our brews and baked goods. The time has come for us to venture into our first brick and mortar store and plans are underway to make that happen. By way of academic background, I am a qualified cultural anthropologist, my father has an extensive background in banking and finance and my mother is an elementary school teacher with a distinct focus on math. We might be considered quite the motley crew compared to most who enter the food and drink industry but we have proven to be quick learners. There have been days that we’ve written off to experience, others we’ve been frustrated but mostly we have enjoyed building something from the ground up, and of watching how the business has expanded. Planning was a major focus before we took the first step, although our inclination that it would be successful rested with experiences in Sydney, not the east valley of Phoenix. Before my father and mother moved to the US in 2010, American family and friends visiting Sydney always enjoyed the “Australian cafe experience” and asked to return frequently before they returned home. Over the course of a few years, with different people, the reaction was always so positive. We determined that there’s nothing culturally equivalent nor any cuisine to compare to it in the US and those very unique differences, and staying true to them, have been our core focus. And, we always believed that educating customers with stories extolling those differences, was just as important as offering authentic high-quality food and drink products. In many ways we are old-fashioned because speed and convenience are not drivers of how we make our drinks or food. Everything we make or sell at our coffee truck (pre-Covid-19) was fresh, utilized only gourmet quality ingredients, syrups, and dairy or non-dairy products. Like other small businesses, we have had to reinvent ourselves and to adapt to the new business environment, with all of its uncertainties. What has shone through all the gloom is the support we have had from our customers by ordering items for delivery to their homes. Many have become friends, we have met many of their dogs and driveway conversations, socially distant and in masks, have created meaningful information exchanges and release valves for frustrations. With a distinct nod to our entrepreneurial skills, we are delighted to have played an integral part in fusing the Red Mountain Farmers Market, of which we were a pioneer vendor, with Zaharis Elementary in NE Mesa. Our combined focus is to build an experience for the school and peripheral community that will encourage and support small local business, provide direct funding to the school’s PTO and to create commercial and community learning opportunities that teachers at the school can incorporate into classroom curriculum. Early planning and activity processes have lifted the moods of those involved because opportunities are piling up and it’s providing a lovely distraction in these challenging times.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I come from Sydney, Australia, places that are well known for being special to many people. I have also been fortunate to travel to Asia and the UK before coming to the US. It might surprise, but if I had a week to go anywhere and hangout with friends, I would choose Sedona, AZ (I know that’s not “technically” in the city but…). It’s scenic beauty is well known and so too its various gourmet restaurants and bars. Leaving those things aside, there is just something magical about the place and a real sense of attachment when I have visited. Maybe its the way it can seamlessly fuse urgency and relaxation at once, or just drinking in the scenery or breathing the air. I simply loved Sedona from the get-go and it won’t ever change.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I own Cup of Joey with my family and the “coffee and drinks” version of our business is entering its third year of operations in the east valley of Phoenix. It’s obvious to me that my business skills and our business growth have developed more rapidly because I come from a family of entrepreneurs but I want to give a “shoutout” to our customers; those who have been with us from the start and those who are more recent. We were always confident that serving authentic Australian-style coffee and baked goods would find a willing market, and that has proven to be the case. That said, the support, encouragement and friendship we receive from our customer base, including a willingness to refer others to us or to buy product to introduce us to their families and friends, has been phenomenal. And, with the arrival of Covid-19, that customer support has gone to new levels because people understand the unusual challenges we face. This is humbling for us but also testimony to the quality business we have built.
We own all images