LEAP! 2015 – Ilana Cameron

LEAP! Participant Profile

Name: Ilana Cameron

Business: Lark Coffee Roasters

Description: Small batch specialty coffee roaster.

Location: Creston BC

Website: larkcoffeeroasters.com

Business Q&A

Q.Why did you start this business? 

Starting a business had always been a dream in my mind. When I came up with the coffee roasting idea it was more of a ‘lark’ than something I thought I would actually, or could actually do. It just sounded so fun, so how could it actually be practical? During the LEAP! program I tested the idea. I discovered it wasn’t a pie in the sky idea but actually something real and achievable.

Q. What are your products/services?

Whole bean freshly roasted specialty coffee. It’s carefully sourced, aiming for sweetness, exceptional flavours and transparent sourcing.

Q. Where can we buy your products/services?

At the Farmer’s Market and online on our store. Working on a few local and regional retail locations (Nelson Kootenay Co-op, Creative Fix etc.).

Q. Tell us about your business now compared to when you started. 

It was just a dream idea when I took LEAP! and it’s now it’s fully launched, as of October 2016.

Q. Do you have any business statistics you wish to share?

Currently only employ myself though I can see I will need an employee or two in the near future, especially for the summer season. I’m pleased with how I’ve been able to find and source different coffees, all the blends and single origins have been selling well, even the more adventurous ones seem to please.

LEAP! Q&A

Q. Why did you join LEAP!?

Because I was interested in exploring my business idea and felt it was the perfect fit for me. I was also interested to learn how to test a business idea. I had heard about the Business Model Generation book and was excited to take a course that used it.Q. What was the benefit of attending LEAP?

The emphasis on market research by talking to people in the community, as well as the peer group for encouragement through the process.

Q. What awards and/or grants did you receive at the Barnraiser? And how did you spend your earnings?

I won the people’s choice award and also received $500 from Tanya Wall (that year she gave all four participants $500). I used the earnings to purchase my coffee roaster, The Bullet by Aillio.

Q. How did working with other LEAP! participants affect you as an entrepreneur and impact your business start-up? 

The community building aspect of LEAP! was key for me, I continue to meet with Melissa Flint and find the support of fellow entrepreneurs a priceless part of this experience. Together we are stronger.

Q. Do you have any advice for someone starting out? 

Caution: Be cautious about being too stuck on exactly how the idea/business will look. Instead be open minded about the details, hold onto the heart of it but be willing to listen to the feedback while keeping the gem of your idea, be willing to pivot instead of being stubborn when it’s clear there are issues with an idea is key to success.

Encouragement: Do the homework, be willing to ask questions, trust your dream.

Q. What can the community do to support your business now?

Help finding a space for a roasting studio that could be open to the public, possibly a space I could share with another business (cafe or?), I’m in talks with some people and have a few ideas of spaces and possible partners. Excited to cautiously grow from a home based roaster to having a public space.

Q. Any additional insights to share?

I am so thankful to this community for the incredible support they have given me, couldn’t do it without it! It’s heartwarming to take a risk and have it received with such delight. I’ve discovered that I really love roasting and sourcing coffee and being able to share it here in Creston means the world to me.