Meet Nicole Reihl-Molloy the “definition” of a socially conscious entrepreneur, who’s operating her company, We the People Coffee & Tea out of America’s Hometown, Plymouth, Massachusetts, a stone’s throw away from Boston, where her company is focusing on supporting Boston non-profits.
Though born and raised in Massachusetts, Nicole didn’t always live there. In 2008, she followed her boyfriend (who’s now her husband) to Las Vegas, Nevada, home of 24-hour gaming, David Copperfield, Cirque du Soleil, and now Brittney Spears: Pieces of Me.
Around the third year in sunny Las Vegas, she grew homesick for Boston. She missed her family, friends, the history, the culture, the four seasons, and even her Wahlbergers, the ones in Boston, Lynnfield and Hingham…she even missed the snow!
“Missing my city so much had a lot to do with the inspiration for We the People Coffee & Tea. Our cities are such an important part of who we are. We have our families and we have our friends, but there is something so special and comforting about our communities,” said Nicole.
Like many startups, Nicole was busy working on her business for two years before it was ready to launch. After spending close to 10 years in Las Vegas, her and her husband, Phil, and their two English Bull Dogs, Monte and Otis packed up their lives and drove 2,700 miles back to the city that captured Nicole’s heart long ago.
Nicole knew she wanted to launch We the People Coffee & Tea with a focus on Boston. She wanted to launch around her fellow coffee and tea enthusiasts who love the city and “giving back” as much as she does.
Today, people can give back to their communities by ordering We the People Coffee & Tea online and donating 10% of their purchase to a local Boston-based charity they’re passionate about. According to Nicole, “There’s never been a better time than now to unite as one and rally behind our communities in support of the causes that are dear to our hearts,” and I can’t agree more!
Just some of the charities that the citizens of Boston have been donating to include: the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, Boston Public Schools, the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Gavin Foundation and many others.
What inspired you to start We the People Coffee & Tea?
It was a few things. Two years ago, when I was concepting the company I felt that our country was divided and I wanted to bring people together – that was two years ago. Flash forward to today and we’re more divided than ever before. I also noticed how social media makes us really aware of the challenges our country faces, and how people genuinely want to help, but they can’t seem to find time in their busy schedules to get involved. Technology makes us a busier society than ever before and people are frustrated with their feelings of powerlessness. I wanted to create something that would empower people to create the change they wish to see in the world and because people are so busy, I knew that it would have to be something that would integrate naturally into people’s daily lives.
Thinking, I sat back in my chair, picked up my coffee cup to take a sip – only to find it empty and it was like BOOM – coffee and tea – people start each day with it. Millions of Americans drink coffee and tea every day, so why not use it to fuel positive change on a massive scale?
Why are you focusing on cities?
We focus on cities because of urbanization. The population of urban environments grows higher and higher each year which puts a tremendous strain on city non-profits to care for their people, animals and environment. Millions of people live, work and play in cities across the nation; it’s a good starting point. We’re starting with the top 100 most-populated cities across the United States. How it works is, for every purchase our customers make, they can donate 10% of their purchase total to a local charity within their favorite city… if it’s featured on our website of course. If customers don’t see their city listed on our website, they can recommend it to us and we’ll do our best to get it added it as an option.
What’s really interesting is We the People Coffee & Tea’s unique action based business model. We encourage consumers to take action and get involved in the building of the company itself. Because we’re not personally familiar with every city we feature on our website, we need the help of our supporters to recommend their favorite charities to us. Doing this helps to grow our nationwide database of non-profits and provide support for communities nationwide. Right now, we’re launching our test market in Boston because that’s where we’re located. However, even though charities in other cities may not be set up yet, people can still donate to their city as a whole. Once charities are set up in their city, we will disburse any donated money equally amongst them and then going forward people can choose a charity of their choice within their city to donate to. It’s a process and we need the help of our customers to keep the company growing
Do you plan on having brick-and-mortar shops?
One day we’d love to have physical locations, but first things first. Right now, we’re focusing on online business-to-consumer sales. We have specific goals for the near future and would be open to hearing from potential investors with a proven track record of business success. Investors who are not only interested in making money, but who are passionate about philanthropy. Experience in the coffee industry wouldn’t hurt either.
One day we might explore retail as well, but right now we’re putting our energy into our website because, that’s where our customers are empowered to create the change they wish to see in the world within their own communities; by choosing the city and local charity they want to give back to. The great thing about We the People Coffee & Tea is that while some people love to support the homeless, others may be passionate about supporting animals, the environment, the arts, or educational causes… the list goes on, and on. With so many people donating to different causes on a regular basis, our differences work to bring us together and strengthen our communities and our country.
Do you see yourself as a social entrepreneur?
Sure! Making a difference in the world motivates us and it’s our goal to make a positive social impact. On a small scale, coffee has been used in the past to help with fundraisers. Another aspect of our business model is helping non-profits with their fundraising. We’re not just a coffee and tea company were a tool that non-profits can use to support their on-going fundraising efforts.
Are there any causes that you’re drawn to?
I’m drawn to environmental causes personally because I feel like first and foremost we need to have a healthy planet to live on. Having a healthy environment affects every single living creature.
We the People Coffee & Tea unites millions of people across the country by making it easy to support their communities. You simply order your coffee or tea online and they donate 10% of your purchase to a local charity in your favorite city that you choose. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter today!
Originally published on LinkedIn.