This "people-centered" space not only seeks to serve great coffee, but to employ women who have dealt with difficult situations including teen pregnancy and abuse, giving them opportunities and a stable job. "We want to be the positive change our city needs, for the good of our communities and the world," says co-owner Kristen Lanning, founder of 8th Day with her partner, Mark Lanning.
While the contract is still under negotiation, the innovative new concept seeks to raise money and connect with the community by hosting a happy-hour event inside the space on January 28. We spoke with Lanning about the project, why it's important to her to help women in need, and what it means to be a part of the community.
Westword: How did the 8th Day Coffee concept come to you? When you say it will be "people-centered," what does that mean as a goal for a local business?
Kristen Lanning: I lived in India for a year in 2013-2014, working for an anti-trafficking organization. One of the things I saw was the need for the vulnerable women in Kolkata to have not only good job opportunities, but the opportunity to be connected to the city. Bringing that idea to Denver, the idea of being "people-centered," it really means that we believe that restoration comes from connection with others. We want to not only have a business model that works for our employees, but for our coffee shop to be a place where community happens. The hope is it's a place where all feel welcome; people will come there and get a great cup of coffee, feel like they're a part of something.
You mentioned that your staff will be made up of teen mothers, abuse survivors. What programs will you be working with to find these future employees?
My husband works at Florence Crittenton High School, a Denver Public School only for teen mothers, so that would be the first place. We're partnering with Florence to find employment for these teen mothers. Then, the Rose Andom Center just opened a few months ago. It's in the area of 8th Day, where we hope to be; it's kind of a one-stop shop for survivors. Street's Hope is another; there's also a ministry in Denver called Beloved where these volunteer women go into strip clubs around Denver and make a relationship and a connection with women who work there, connecting them first as friends, but just to get to know them and to let them know that they have other career options. Our hope is, again, being people-centered, that we are connected to all of the organizations around Denver who do direct care and counseling for these women.
Do you plan on brewing local coffee? Will you procure local baked goods, or make your own?
Right now, our goal is to have Kaladi Coffee Roasters be our supplier for our coffee beans. And we would be hiring two full-time cooks baking our menu items. We want baked goods to be homemade on the spot, fresh daily, rather than outsourcing.
Why a coffee shop?
Because a lot can happen over a cup of coffee. The interesting part about my husband and I — we don't have any experience in coffee, but we have a number of friends and people on our team who do have that experience. In order to be successful, we need to eat, breathe and sleep coffee. While we respect and take that advice to heart, both my husband, Mark, and I just believe in our mission, and we're partnering with some people in the coffee businesses, longstanding in Denver, who know how to make it a reality.
Who have you partnered with to bring in this coffee-industry perspective?
We have a lot of support from Jason Calloway, who is the former owner of Rooster & Moon. Being able to consult with us, use his wisdom and experience, has been great. We're also working with Brad and Caren Nixon. They own Nixon Coffee House, with a few locations around the metro area, so we're really well connected to the coffee industry and people who do have thriving businesses. We also have the support of 8th Day founder in Kolkata, India, Grant Walsh.
What are you doing with the space? Are you repainting the mural?
We will do some upgrades. We definitely plan to paint over that outside mural and replace it with our logo and design. A lot of the skeleton of the shop is there, but we would probably minimally redesign [to] ensure that everything kind of matches our logo and concept.
You have your first fundraising event coming up on January 28. If all goes as planned, when do you see 8th Day Coffee opening?
We haven't officially secured the former Rooster & Moon location, yet, so we're still in negotiations with the landlord. He's allowing us to host this fundraiser on the 28th. The hope is that we could open doors by June of this year.
For this event, our hope and goal for it is twofold; one, we want to be able to start connecting with the community and sharing what our vision and mission is for the space; and secondly, since we are doing this through a nonprofit, we're raising a lot of the capital to be able to start, so there will be an opportunity for people to give or invest. More than anything, we really want people to come and get to know us. We'll have drinks and appetizers.
If you have questions about 8th Day Coffee, e-mail [email protected]. The coffeehouse is hosting a networking and fundraising event at 955 Bannock Street, Suite 100, on Saturday, January 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. To buy tickets, go to coffeeforfreedom.eventbrite.com.