We got to chat with Raya about her business, how she balances running a business with her joy of being a mama, and her future plans for Old Katy Coffee!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Katy?
I am originally from Baton Rouge, LA. I moved to New Orleans in the early 90s, then after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I moved back to Baton Rouge while rebuilding in New Orleans. Fate intervened, and my husband and I reconnected (we met in undergrad) and I moved to Miami, where he lived, instead of back to New Orleans. And in 2013 we moved from Miami to Texas! We first lived in Memorial, but after a year there decided that we definitely wanted to make Old Katy our home.
When did the wheels start spinning to open Old Katy Coffee and have you always been passionate about making coffee?
We’ve always loved coffee. Always! We used to just walk round Miami looking for unique little small coffee shops and cafes. Once in Katy, we started “learning the business” so to speak by working at a Farmers Market with a local coffee roaster. We realized how much we loved Katy, Old Katy specifically, and that this was our forever home. We decided to name our business after Old Katy because it’s such a special community with a rich history and people who are just really good people. That’s the kind of company we wanted to make this. Very good coffee with genuinely good people who are doing good things for people in this community and beyond.
Tell us about your business and what was the inspiration behind starting it?
#1 We love coffee and enjoy how it is able to spark conversations and connect people of many diverse backgrounds.
#2 We have three young daughters and hope to build something they can run together one day. Or at least serve as a blueprint for any entrepreneurial endeavors they may want to pursue.
You don’t have a store yet, how do you get your coffee to the public?
Our website, www.oldkatycoffee.com. You can purchase all of our products from the website. We offer free delivery to Old Katy and the surrounding area. We also do farmer’s markets every weekend, we do pop up coffee bars in Katy and all around the greater Houston area, and of course we love doing community charity events. Not having a brick and mortar allows us to not be confined to one place. To truly be a company focused on community and caffuniting, we want to be able to “move our counter” so to speak. We like being able to get out into the community. And most importantly for me, with 3 daughters aging 2-10, I wanted a flexible business so that my kids and husband can continue to come first
What did you do before opening this business?
Well, my Masters is in Public Health. I was a pharmaceutical sales rep for 7 years, then wanted something more fulfilling. So I went into the field of community health and development as a program coordinator for a 700+ bed regional medical center. I coordinated all of the community events and health fairs, and I loved it!!!
Have you always been entrepreneurial minded?
Not always. I have always had a community focused mind. Social change, missionary work, social events, philanthropy, things like that. This really just grew naturally from a love of coffee, event planning, and wanting to be my own boss.
What makes Old Katy Coffee Unique in the coffee industry?
We aren’t just coffee to order for your home. We are a specialty coffee company offering subscriptions, gifts, and pop up event services. Our coffees are sourced from around the world and roasted by a local roaster. We offer subscriptions through our web site (www.oldkatycoffee.com) and our pop up bar can be seen at farmers markets (www.imperialfarmersmarkets.com, www.katerraexotics.com), corporate events and family celebrations. Our specialty; however, is in creating custom gifts for individuals and businesses. Coffee presented in a nice manner is an excellent gift for employees or customers and a no brainer for a hard to please (or easy to please) family member. Our beans are roasted every week and delivered to your door within days.
What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner in Katy?
The people. Small town living with big city access. I just love Katy!!!
How has the Katy area community had an impact on your business?
Katy actually has a lot of small business owners. There are a lot of family owned business, and that culture of hard working people who look out for each other has definitely been a catalyst in starting Old Katy Coffee.
Advice for anyone wanting to start their own business?
Don’t wait until the time is right. It will never feel perfectly timed, especially if you are a mom. But life is so short, so figure out how you can make it happen so that it makes sense mentally, financially and physically. And do it. Embrace the chaos that mom life can bring and just do it. The dishes will get done, the clothes will get folded, the carpets will get vacuumed eventually, that isn’t going anywhere. But life is. Focus on growing you, and doing what makes you happy.
When things get hard, what’s one thing you tell yourself to keep going when running a business?
Trust the process. It is a journey, and nothing happens overnight. If it was easy, everyone would run their own business. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
How do you balance being a business owner, wife, and mama?
Coffee!!! HA 😊 And a routine!!! I say “okay, for the next hour I am checking email and then I will stop no matter what to work on this weeks custom orders”. You have to have a structure while embracing the chaos 😊
How has being a mother inspired you to take on this journey into entrepreneurship?
Life is so short. When my oldest daughter was born, she was given 48 hours to live. I remember very vividly being in the delivery room, the Dr. squatting down next to me with his hand on my arm and telling me so. She was born at 23 weeks; she is now 10. So I take nothing for granted; I don’t sweat the small stuff because I realize that it just doesn’t matter. Life is short, so do it while you can. Live your life and start the business you’ve always talked about. Motherhood has also helped me not stress when something doesn’t go according to plan; that happens a lot as a small business owner. Also, I have a 2 year old, so I feel like I can handle ANYONE. Lol.
And I want to show my daughters what a strong female is. I am very big on girl power in our house, being a mom of 3 girls. Lol. I want them to have a strong example and know that they can do anything!
Future plans for your business?
I would love to have a coffee roastery with a coffee shop and café inside. And of course it would be in Old Katy! I want somewhere people can come and see the coffee beans being roasted and sit down uniting over a great cup of coffee.
Any special, sales, or deals our Katy Moms can look out for? How can people get your coffee?
You can order on our website at www.oldkatycoffee.com. We are also sold at Katerra Exotics Market in downtown Old Katy, and we are at the Imperial Farmers Market in Sugar Land every Saturday. We also offer free delivery to zip codes 77493 and 77494.
Make sure to follow us on IG and FB @oldkatycoffee for specials and new products and to find out where we will be with our pop up coffee bar.