The popularity of coworking has returned to Columbus, with many flexible work spaces opening and expanding throughout the region. The Franklinton neighborhood will gain another coworking spot soon, with the opening of the “Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op” at 1069 West Broad Street later this year. We spoke recently with owner Victoria Calderón recently to find out more about what the new space will offer. Our full interview can be found below:
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as it relates to the new business?
A: I’m a marketing professional by training/trade and in general have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My background is in community development, finance, marketing and providing technical assistance to small businesses and non-profits for the past 10 years. My sister and business partner, Virginia Nunes, is a community health worker and also an entrepreneurial spirit. She started an e-commerce business in Spain a few years ago. She’s been working in the Columbus community for the past four years serving the underserved.
We’re originally from Venezuela but we grew up in the States. We partnered up to start AVANZA (“a forward movement” in Spanish) and offer marketing and public relations consultancy services that cater to the Latino and Millennial market segments because we saw a need and we kept being referred to as “subject matter experts” in these areas, being Latina Millennials ourselves. One of the services AVANZA offers is artistic representation. We help under represented local artists market their art and make them profitable.
Offering this service led to our search for office space for ourselves and the artistic community that we represent and those that are considered “underserved”. 400 West Rich Street is saturated with nearly 100 artists and we were told there was a waiting list to have a studio. We also learned their prices were being raised and artists were looking for an alternative option. We landed on an intimate co-working space and coffee shop concept for artists and creatives in all fields — from graphic design to techie start-ups. But we believe our mission is so much greater than just being profitable for ourselves. AVANZA is a social enterprise with the following vision statement: “to promote economic and community development by connecting brands to audiences through social causes for the greater good.” This statement is the core of who we are and where we’re going.
Q: What got you interested in launching this as a coffee shop business?
A: Everyone can get behind coffee! We have a real passion and respect for the coffee business and have seen successful models through our mentors, such as our friend Jeff Davis at Brioso Coffee. We will offer free coffee refills to members of our co-working space because we want to share our passion for the beverage in a shared economy. What will make us unique is that we’ll offer coffee prepared “Spanish style” with an ethnic twist and techniques taken from our ancestors in Spain. Have you ever had a “Barraquito?” It’s like an espresso but with condensed milk at the bottom. Brilliant, right?! Colombians and Venezuelans know their coffee.
We’re also in the coffee shop business because we can empower others to join our mission as social entrepreneurs one cup of coffee at a time. Proceeds from our coffee sales will be donated to a fund we’re starting to reduce infant mortality in our city. Columbus has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation. Additionally, a lot of entrepreneurs we know are currently working well and very efficiently out of coffee shops all over the city. So, to us it just seemed like a natural fit to combine both concepts and offer special benefits to our “members”. One of our coffee distributors is a young Latina entrepreneur in the community attending Life Skills. We’ll be buying from her to supply our “self-service coffee bar” and support her small business. We’re also looking to employ a young adult out of foster care to help manage the coffee shop business as a barista and also offer an entrepreneurial mentoring opportunity. We have lots of plans to be a successful social enterprise by helping others succeed along the way.
Q: What drew you to this location on Broad Street in Franklinton?
A: In our quest to find out why infant mortality was such an issue in the Columbus community, we found out that the 216-year-old neighborhood called Franklinton was a major hot spot with some of the highest infant mortality rates in the city. Contrary to popular belief that “there’s no one living in Franklinton” we also found out that there are around 15,000 families living in Franklinton. “East Franklinton” is mostly vacant buildings and land waiting to be developed, but there are families living west of 315 and we didn’t want them to go unnoticed. We wanted to have our offices in the middle of that neighborhood to be better able to help, understand and bring awareness to their issues. We’re located at the corner of West Broad Street and South Cypress Avenue, down the street from the historic Tommy’s Diner and in front of the renovated Engine No10 fire house. We’re also right across from the Franklinton Board of Trade, with the neighborhood right behind us.
Franklinton’s old term of endearment “The Bottoms” is what what inspired the name “Bottoms Up”. The Bottoms become a derogatory term over the years that we’re trying to bring it back in a positive light. The more research we did on Columbus’ oldest neighborhood, the more compelled we became to be a part of their rich history and help change perceptions. We came across the City’s 170-page East Franklinton Creative Community District revitalization plan online and we read every single page of it. Having worked in the community development department at Fifth Third Bank for six years, and both of us having worked with underserved communities, this plan really spoke to Virginia and I. We knew we wanted to be a part of making history by reinventing a new creative community, while taking care of the existing residents to make sure no one was displaced. Our plan is to address and financially assist infant mortality efforts through our “coffee fund”, advocate for the existing residents while attracting a new creative class of young people such as ourselves to live, work and play while reinventing the “new” Franklinton Arts District.
Q: What is your current timeline for construction and opening?
A: We’re hoping to open our doors late Summer or early Fall.
For more information, visit www.avanzabizsolutions.com/bottoms-up-cafe.