Two Bronx Moms With Help From The Community Open Up (a coffee) Shop
We have all heard the stats, women especially mothers, were hit hard by the pandemic. This is why when we see moms rising in a difficult time with the support of the borough they live in, we celebrate. Longtime Riverdale residents Heather Kim and Katie Mayer took a leap of faith and, during the height of COVID, opened earlybird, the only North Riverdale independent coffee shop.
While both have pretty big careers, Katie is a content creator with a background in fashion styling for well-known publications- and Heather, originally from Staten Island, who received a BBA in International Management works in Global Customer Experience, wanted to open a coffee shop in the neighborhood they love. Intending to share food and drinks that reflected the area’s diversity, these moms opened a shop only three months ago serving in-house dishes and specialty drinks and, of course, coffee!
We chatted with Heather and Katie on opening earlybird and why it was important to open it now and in the borough they love.
You started earlybird in your hometown of Riverdale/Bronx, no less during the height of COVID. What led you both to open a business and in an industry that was struggling from the pandemic?
Stores were closing left and right, and people were moving out of the neighborhood and into the suburbs in droves. Building a special place–a coffee shop for all–become our mission to be a part of the change that we wanted to see in our community, especially after it was hit hard (like many other neighborhoods) by the pandemic.
The community is a big part of why you open your shop; how has earlybird brought the community together?
Aside from our initial Kickstarter, where we collected over $30,000 in funding (mostly from people within the community), earlybird is one of the only independent coffee shops in the neighborhood and has quickly become a central place for people to meet with friends, family, neighbors, and many times as a place of solitude to work, read or just be by themselves. The energy of the shop is exactly what we were hoping for—a sort of respite from the day-to-day and many times adding joy to people’s lives through food and company.
What was your career life like for both of you before you open your own business?
Both of us had and still have successful careers! It is partially how we are making this all happen. Although I lost my full-time position running the photo studio for Century 21 Department stores, I quickly bounced back taking on remote freelance work for other companies. And Heather has not stopped working through this entire period, still maintaining a full-time position at Coach in Global Customer Experience. We are also both mothers, so obviously, that’s a full-time job in-and-of-itself.
Lastly, earlybird is such a sweet name; how did it come about?
That is a good question. Heather’s husband claims to have come up with the name, but that still remains to be confirmed. For us, we wanted to be inclusive of everyone and yet still very relatable. So, we made the name earlybird for the go-getter in us all, and then, of course, our mascot Earl, that is part of the logo, embodies how we may feel some days or mornings—we may not have it altogether but we show up and push on!
Psst…check out the Best DIY Baby Proofing Hacks for NYC Parents