November 20, 2023
Christy Clement launched Vashon Island Coffee Dust, a natural blend of spices to flavor coffee, in 2021, inspired by cozy mornings in the pandemic, sipping coffee in the hot tub with her husband. While the mornings were a lovely new tradition, her practice of adding lots of cream and sugar to her coffee didn’t feel like a healthy choice. With the inspiration of her friend’s spice blend, Christy transformed her morning coffee into a flavorful journey and Captain's Coffee Dust was born. What started as a playful experiment soon evolved into a business that values community impact over profit. Beyond just coffee, it's about spreading love, as seen in their free "love yourself" stickers and a commitment to donate 10% of profits to charities like Vashon HouseHold and Purple Mai'a. This warm-hearted business not only brings joy to coffee lovers but also uplifts communities and empowers dreams. Cheers to Vashon Island Coffee Dust!
started playing around with different flavor combinations and after realizing no one else sold such a thing, realized I had to start a business!
Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?
I used to hate coffee unless it was full of cream and sugar (basically warmed-up coffee ice cream), so I didn't drink it often. But during the pandemic, my husband and I started a tradition of hot tubbing while drinking morning coffee. It was fun, but I had to find a way to cut out the cream and sugar. My friend Kim introduced me to her spice blend that she added to her coffee and I instantly fell in love. I started playing around with different flavor combinations and after realizing no one else sold such a thing, realized I had to start a business! That was in early 2021. Captain's Coffee Dust is our original flavor and is named after Kim's adorable dog.
How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?
I've been in business since 2021 and my mindset is probably the biggest thing that has changed. I started out just playing around, then at some point I thought I could make a ton of money doing this. But over time, I'm realizing how fun it is to have a business that hasn't taken outside investment, so I get to do what I like with the business. For example, I thought about how I can spread more love in this world, so I created a "love yourself" sticker that everyone can get for free. We also donate 10% of our profits to charity. It's fun to brainstorm how we can make this world a better place and use this business to propel those ideas forward.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
Learn about marketing from the start. We started out experimenting with flavors, then packaging, and now we're focusing on marketing strategies. We're always looking for ways to get feedback from customers and potential customers which has been successful. But I over-indexed on experimenting on the product and packaging because that's the fun part - the product is why I started the company to begin with. It became very clear that we could have the best product in the world, but if we couldn't get it in front of people, it didn't matter. It's cliche, but true! I have a new appreciation for marketing and how important it is to sustain a business.
It became very clear that we could have the best product in the world, but if we couldn't get it in front of people, it didn't matter. It's cliche, but true!
Are there any apps or business services that you just can’t live without that you would like to give a shout-out to?
Yes! Bad Ass Salt - I'm totally addicted!
Is there a non-profit or other social/mission-oriented business that your business supports? Can you tell us about this?
Last year, we donated to two non-profit organizations: Vashon HouseHold whose mission is to develop and steward affordable housing in our community; and Purple Mai'a whose mission is to empower and educate native Hawaiians in technology and entrepreneurship. While most of our Coffee Dusters live on Vashon Island, our marketing director is native Hawaiian. Both organizations seek to give disadvantaged people in our communities more stability and empower them to do great things. We love being able to contribute to such meaningful work with our neighbors.
Thank you, Christy, for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!
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Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit ThWMarketplace provides to sellers.