October is National Women’s Small Business Month. As one of the many local women-owned businesses, The Chronicle this week spoke with Lewis County Coffee Company co-owners, stepmother-daughter duo Sam Styger and Angie Twining.
Styger worked her way through the ranks of LINE-X, a truck bed lining company, for 20 years.
“That's really where all of my education came from. No college education, just the school of hard knocks,” she said. “And then that brought us to Lewis County Coffee Company in 2017. Angie was looking for a career path and something she could take hold and love and grow with.”
The family opened its first stand on State Avenue in Chehalis on Jan. 13, 2017, in a gas station parking lot. Twining said the location wasn’t ideal, so it felt like it was “no harm, no foul” in case it didn’t succeed.
Today, the company employs around 60 people, and most of those are women.
Following the State Avenue location, the business opened stands on Tower Avenue in Centralia, U.S. Highway 12 by the former Spiffy’s location, Bishop Road in Chehalis, inside Providence Centralia Hospital and, most recently, on the corner of Southwest 20th Street and Jackson Highway in Chehalis, where Larsen Music used to be.
The company also does coffee deliveries out of its headquarters in the building just south of the Jackson Highway stand.
Twining and Styger originally purchased that location in 2017, but were delayed in their building of the drive-through stand as other business offers popped up.
Now with six stands, the owners are all over the place: managing staff and supplies, building community relationships, fixing broken equipment, interacting with customers and doing whatever else is needed.
When asked what their normal day looks like, the pair said there was no such thing.
“There's always something going on, now we’re 50-plus baristas strong,” Twining said. “I try to visit multiple stands each day, just check in the customers, check in with managers. We really want to make sure that we know our employees, we're not just an out-of-town owner, that we're really in tune with them.”
The company still lists each employee by name rather than number, Styger said, and she values everyday interactions with them. Recently, the business threw a surprise baby shower for a barista who will have a baby in a few months.
The owners said they felt blessed in their careers, saying they did not feel they’d faced unique discrimination or challenges as women in business. Styger credited the community for that, listing builders, city employees, the health department and “everybody else who helped us get this far” as supportive.
For other women starting out, the advice Twining offered was: “You just really need to be present and put your all into anything you're going to do. Obviously, it's hard work. … Nobody else is going to do it for you. I think as long as you are really passionate about what you're doing, you make it work.”
To which Styger added: “And just do it, right? Do it and do it all.”
Visit www.lewiscountycoffee.com for more information or to set up a coffee delivery.