Erica, owner of The Arrow Coffeehouse in Damascus, Oregon is a coffee expert, community builder, musician, and self-described social butterfly. She also describes herself as “wife to a nerdy and kind husband and momma of the best little girl.” She says she has always been a take charge kind of person and was often called bossy and over-emotional as a child.
She got her start in the coffee industry as a teenager working in Starbucks in California and Oregon and embraced the perspective of the coffee business as being bigger than a cup of coffee. “This is a business that touches the world, from our small communities, to our roasters, our bean buyers, and our farmers. It just makes my heart feel so much bigger for the job,” she explains.
“When I was 18, I moved to the Portland area and got a job at the shop I now own. It was a Hawaiian coffee shop at that time and it just had such a fun sense of community. I loved the small town and all the people that would come in, and I just appreciated how the shop reflected my bosses and who they were.”
Beyond her love for the community, she also began to explore the Portland coffee scene. “I was amazed by how much pride and quality were thrown into the work of crafting coffee and espresso beverages.”
When the opportunity to take ownership of the shop came up, she took the leap to business ownership.
Along the way, she’s been supported by her community, “My community is large and I love every single person in it,” she says. She’s also been encouraged along her journey by friends, Nate and Jamie Snell, of Pip's Original and The Lamb's Table catering. “They really have really been inspirational to me in bringing back the humanity in the business world. My friend Ken, who is in the restaurant industry, is so generous with his knowledge and time. He has taught me some crucial things about food, and has shared so much perspective with me on the food-business world.”
One of her latest collaborations is with the roasting team at Dapper and Wise. “They have been incredible partners with us this last year, whether it be coffee education, technical support, business advice, or just plain cheer-leading. They are the business-big-bro I've always wanted,” says Erica.
One of Erica’s biggest struggles is keeping the budget under control. “With a shop like mine, the bills are incredibly constant and something is always broken, about to be broken, or outdated. We didn't start with a lot of money off the bat, and it took me a while to price things correctly so that I was making an adequate profit to sustain us,” she explains.
Erica wants to remind new business owners that opening a business is a lot of work for a long time. “In the beginning, I was a little naive and thought I’d have it figured out after a year or two. And that is so far from the case.”
Erica hopes fellow business owners remember that a business is in a constant state of evolution. “It is CRUCIAL that you choose a mission statement and core values before you do anything else, things that really cling to what you value as a person.”
She admits there are times a business owner may wonder why they are even in business at all. Erica quotes her friend, Nate, “Truly successful people make a choice to not only stick with things even when the passion is gone but to know when the timing is truly right to say ‘I gave it my all, and there's nothing more I can give.’" Erica continues “Sometimes you have to slog your way out of the valley and back up to the mountaintop. And love is always a choice. THAT is how to succeed passionately.”
Unlike some businesses, The Arrow Coffeehouse (19880 SE HWY 212, Damascus, Oregon), really does have something for everyone. “If you don't love coffee, we have tea, pastries, breakfast, lunch, and we feature locally made items. We are on the way from Portland to Mt. Hood so it's the perfect place to stop on the way out of town or the way back in.
Erica says her shop is her biggest accomplishment. “Every month that passes by it just gets more real that these are the times that I've dreamed of since I was a teen. I'm living them right now - owning my coffee shop with co-workers that I love, raising my family, enjoying our life, contributing to the world around me I’m living out my dreams and paving the way for new ones,” she explains.
She says she enjoys being a MOB NW member and making friends that share the unique journey of growing a business and a family at the same time. “So many people I know just don't understand what it's like, and it's nice to have friends that do!”
You can find The Arrow Coffeehouse online at: