Over the last four years, The Milton Schoolhouse has brought countless projects into our lives. Joel and I have not only built a home inside this massive structure- we've hosted a wedding, used our space to help friends build a parade float, stored boats and RVs in our warehouse, and (most importantly) helped over a dozen artists and entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground by building out nine different workspace studios.
Joel and I not only have a passion for helping others start their own businesses, we have a passion for bringing business into Alton in general. Since the very beginning, we've thought about building a coffee shop. Convinced that someone would do so before we had the space/concept/time together in which to do it, the project was put on the back burner until this January.
While stopping through New Orleans on the way home from a family visit, my mother and I happened upon an old coffee shop in the historical section of the city. Old white and cobalt tiles, cracked on the floor, open shutters letting in the foggy morning, and the smell of steaming hot brew drew us inside. I was hooked. It was a weekday- without a tourist but ourselves and two eccentric British ladies. I remember watching the locals come in and out, conversing and laughing, passing along ideas and eating fresh beignet. The idea of building a coffee shop in Alton could wait no longer. On the drive home, I began to make the first notes planning out such a place for Milton- and Maeva was born.
Joel and I have spent this summer preparing the schoolhouse to host such a place. In addition to building out two studios on the first floor, we have also built out a commercial kitchen for a local baker who has agreed to provide delicious yummies for Maeva's. We've also been renovating the public hallways of the school to add to the appeal of the building. Joel has been collecting materials to hand build furniture for the shop during winter- while I've been working on finding a roasting company, writing a business plan, and fleshing out the branding of this gypsy lady who has so captured our imaginations.
Purchasing equipment is our biggest hurdle. Our progress here has been self sustaining- and we fell that the financial risk of building Maeva's is very low. Not only to we own the building (without a mortgage) but we already have most of the materials to build the shop. But we live in a time where banks have become gun shy when it comes to loaning "young folks" money to begin any sort of venture. Since the amount of money we need for the equipment is relatively low compared to what it would cost for most people to start a similar shop elsewhere in Alton, and since we know Alton really wants a coffee shop, we've decided to host a Kickstarter to raise the $15,000 we'll need to purchase our espresso machine (and other kitchen equipment).
Still a little confused about what Kickstarter is? Here is a short FAQ for you to read and pass along to anyone who might be new to the idea.
Kickstarter? What is that?
Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects and new small businesses. It’s based on an idea called crowd-sourced funding, where anyone can contribute money to help finance a project they believe in. Projects large and small have been successfully ‘Kickstarted’ through this web site. Only ideas that meet their goal actually get the money. If a project doesn’t meet their goal, the contributors aren’t billed.
What is crowd-sourced funding?
Years ago, if a young person wanted to start a business, they would approach their bank with an idea, and the bank would likely give them a business loan to provide the capital to get the business off the ground. In recent years the banking industry has nearly completely stopped this service, leaving creative entrepreneurs few places to turn for funding.
Crowd sourced funding is where instead of pitching an idea to a banker, a person with a Big Idea or a business they want to start can pitch it to a large crowd of possible contributors. Using the internet, thousands of generous people who only have a few dollars to give have come together to fund art festivals, new inventions, and even rocket ships. We hope you will join us in funding the start of a coffee shop.
Why crowd-source fund a coffee shop?
Everything you see around you at The Milton Schoolhouse has been achieved on a pay-as-we-go basis. Doing this has allowed us a measure of creative control that you don’t get if you have someone else telling you what you must do with their investments. We don’t want to have to compromise Maeva’s spirit right away by having to make loan payments. The money from the Kickstarter campaign will allow us to purchase the expensive special equipment needed to make great coffee. With the rest of the business we hope to continue with our policy of doing things as the money and resources become available.
Great! So how do I contribute?
Contributing is super easy! The link to our specific campaign on Kickstarter will be live on Saturday, Oct. 12th through Nov. 11th. Click Here to Donate. Also, check out our Facebook Page for live updates on our campaign.
At the top of the Kickstarter page, click the big green button that says “Back This Project”.
Learn more about our project and read through the awesome incentives we’re offering to those who contribute.
Fill in your name and email- then use your credit/debit card to contribute. Your card WILL NOT be charged unless we meet our final goal of $15,000.