chattanooga

December Vendor Spotlight: Chattanooga Espresso Catering

“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening…It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup”

-Gertrude Stein

Last month, I hosted a class up at Grandview with several AMAZING vendors that helped make it great. Among these friends were Ryn Loren Photography, The Copper Quail, Molly Nicole, White Table and Petaline Floral. But I had the great pleasure of working with a new company who was so generous with his time and resources and made the best damn espresso I’ve ever had. Let me introduce you to Ben Schnell, entrepreneur and owner of Chattanooga Espresso Catering:

Photography by  Ryn Loren Photography

Photography by Ryn Loren Photography

Ben initially learned his coffee trade as a barista at The Camp House, years ago here in Chattanooga. He then trained at Counter Culture’s lab in Atlanta. He enjoys making fancy drinks for his wife, Natalie and playing with his daughter, Eva.

From the beginning of my last-minute idea to host a class, Ben was super supportive. When I was pretty worried that no one would show up, and just hated the thought of having vendors waste their time, Ben said with such genuineness: “No matter how many brides or drinks, I’m just grateful to be involved. Even if no one shows up.”

These are the kind of friends I like to have! Those who realize that collaboration and relationship building is half the fun (and half the job) of owning your own business.

Here is how Ben describes his craft: “I make delicious espresso drinks using local beans roasted for maximum flavor. I finish the drinks with expertly steamed milk and photo-worthy latte art. My drinks are served with a smile and with a spirit of joy and gratitude, adding festive energy to every occasion.”

I can say from my experience that all of that is true! Check out this latte art:

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Isn’t this lovely?! I need one right now!!! (seriously, someone get me some coffee it’s 5:30 am)

Fun Fact via Ben: Espresso is not a particular type of coffee bean or roast, it is a particular type of coffee brewing method that uses 132 pounds per square inch of pressure to force boiling water through finely ground coffee in about 20-30 seconds.

Wow.

Among the adored drinks pulled from his gorgeous La Marzocco Linea Mini espresso machine are the Americano, Machiatto, Cortado, Cappuccino, Latte and Chai. Check out his website to see exactly what is in these, and his non-espresso options!

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So on these chilly days, as you plan your upcoming event, think of Ben and his toasty coffee skills. You will be blown away by his excellent coffee and service. I would be honored to have him on my team any time of the year!

Double Americano, please!

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The Hard Things

Below are thoughts from a very imperfect perfectionist.

As a wedding planner, I have convinced myself that I have to appear to be perfect and extremely calculated to gain trust. But if you know me personally-and you’re an Enneagram fan-(Oh HEY fellow Psych degrees!) you’ll know I am a 3 and not a 1. I long to (and attempt to) “do it all” but I don’t do it all perfectly. However. for the past 3 years in business, I have felt like my only option was to convince my market that I am the entire package. Do you feel the pressure too? To be charming and smart and all booked up and innovative all at once? For me, this took research, lot’s of meetings, sometimes small lies, sometimes larger ones, and a bit of wine. Like me, are you afraid of letting down your mask for a second, because then you may be accosted with criticism and judgement? But that should be a normal part of growth, right? Gosh it’s exhausting trying to be the best.

(if this sounds like you and you need a good cry, give this a listen:

As you may know, I have a husband who is a Police officer and works nights, and a daughter who well…doesn’t pull her own weight but she’s adorable. I LOVE my family, and that’s why I started my business-because time with them is precious. My dream was to have a flexible enough schedule to color with my kids after a pool trip in the middle of the day in the middle of the week while eating homemade salsa. Yeah. Dreaming big ya’ll. You’ll know I’ve really made it when I insta homemade salsa. You’re going to be like “wow, Ashley finally has it all together.” I want quality time with my family, and I want it every day.

The life of a mompreneur is…complicated though. The comparison game is so present. Which sucks because as a mom there is already so much comparison and worry that I’m not doing “enough.” As women, we grow up feeling this constantly, right? I remember one of the most honest things I’ve ever heard another woman say was, “The first thing I did when I walked in the room was look at everyone’s stomach and compare it to mine.” Oh my gosh I was so floored to hear someone actually say that out loud!! But in the creative wedding industry, comparison, looking at what everyone else is doing is how you learn, grow and change. But I don’t know how to do that without heavily feeling inadequate, defensive and competitive. I feel 90% sure that I wouldn’t even have an instagram if it wasn’t for feeling like I have to have one to “make it” in the creative community. I just hate how emotionally charged something like a gorgeous tablescape can be because I can’t take credit for it or didn’t think of it first.

I was drinking a pink latte (right?!?! beetroot and Himalayan salt and other stuff I can’t remember) and walking around Northshore with a new friend yesterday who was telling me that I needed to put myself out there more on my social media. Like my actual face. Ok, talk about having to “face” my insecurity! (get it?!) How do I build a brand, and sell my product-which is ME by the way-without appearing vain and overly confident? How do you do it without looking foolish for posting without the perfect lighting, hashtags, or caption?? I mean, I know I’m not the only one feeling all this pressure! Connecting and being an open book is something I really feel passionately about, but doing that in a professional way is scary. And the idea of selling yourself, branding yourself, is tricky, right? I know people who do it with so much integrity and tact. And I know others who do not. I really do not want to be the latter.

*Jesus Juke ahead*

In church today, our pastor posed the question: “Who’s kingdom are you building?” Ironically, this was asked during a time of wondering how I can brand myself better! And it made me feel so confused. Is my business serving any greater good? Or a harder question for me: is the reason I started this business (to have a present, relaxed and intentional family life), to build my own small kingdom as well? To control and preserve my personal pleasure and comfort? These are really hard questions for me to answer. Maybe I won’t stop wrestling with this for a while. And I guess that’s ok? I would love to know if you have had similar questions as an entrepreneur, wondering how to do it all excellently without compromising what is important to you, your values, and without feeling so bogged down with feelings of insecurity and competition.

At the end of the day, I want to resolve to stop worrying about doing it all perfectly. I know that the pressure of perfection makes me second guess every decision I make, and literally stunts my business’s growth. It also causes me to obsess about things that in the end, won’t last. So here’s to confidence, a healthy (ish) relationship with social media (a work in progress) and remembering why I’m investing in the wedding community in the first place. Step one in this process for me: I’m going to launch an educational side of my business for Brides, and eventually for other entrepreneurs. And I’ve decided to be excited-and honest-about it not being perfect. Because I think maybe people don’t need perfection, they need someone to understand their needs and support them with passion, education, skill and and a dash of humor. And that’s me, yo.