Entrepreneur and artist. Owner of the Village Grind.
"For me, coffee is a way to bring loved ones and community together. I loved it from a very early age."
Lindsey, tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am from Greenville, born and raised. Our family did move to Georgia for a bit, but we came back to Greenville, and it really is home. We moved when I was going into 9th grade, so I went to high school there and started at Dalton State College, looking at a degree in business. However, my whole family moved back to Greenville; my father was led to return due to a job opportunity, and at that point, I left school and moved back myself, starting three jobs. I worked as a barista at Spill the Beans, I worked in a chiropractic office, and at Anthropologie.
What cultivated you passion for the service industry?
The Village Grind was born out of a love for coffee. Coffee was such a big part of my family and my culture growing up. My mom is one of 11, and her family was very much into coffee. There wasn’t a gathering unless we had coffee. For me it is a way to bring loved ones and community together. I loved it from a very early age. My mom would make it for us before we went to school in the morning- as early as elementary school. It is something we have always been surrounded by.
Is your family a part of what you do here at the Village Grind?
I am one of six. I am number five. We share this affinity for space making and community building. My brother Alex George (owner of GB&D which is coming up on its first anniversary) is very involved; however, our businesses are very much two separate entities. One of my sisters works some on the weekends and my parents (Linda and Andy) come whenever they get a chance to stop by and sit down for a cup of coffee.
How did this business begin?
This shop is a childhood dream. I had thought about it so much, I had a plan for what I was going to call it (at that time, it wasn’t the Village Grind). I would sit in class and sketch out what I wanted it to be—designing my logo, dreaming about this place. So it was definitely something I thought about and dreamed about from a very young age, even before high school.
When did things start coming together?
While I was working those three jobs, I was working my shift in Anthropologie, and I had a customer who wanted to know what I wanted to do, and I told her about the coffee shop. I told her I would love for it to be in the Village because I love this area. Through that connection, a woman contacted me who had the keys to this building, and my dad and I came over to see it. While I wasn’t in a place financially to start a business, we sat down for lunch afterward and he encouraged me saying, “Just do what you can; you will never know if you don’t try.” So I put a plan together and connected with a gentleman who was retiring from his dental practice and was interested in starting a coffee shop. I met with both Jim Bolts and Carl Chambers, best friends who graduated from Furman together, and they became my business partners. The space was then vacant, but had previously had several artist studios in the space. So we put the shop together and opened in January of 2015.
Tell me about your produces. What kind of coffee do you serve?
I use Due South Coffee in Taylors, SC. It is important to me to support local community in that way. We use milk from Southern Oaks Jersey Farms in Abbeville, SC. It is so good. The best milk. We make all of our syrups in house. We commission local artists to make our mugs: Darin Gehrke, our neighbor, and Will Donovan. (When I am in a pinch, I go to Marshalls). Our pastries are from Wade Taylor’s Bake Room.
Are you involved with the Village Business Association?
Yes. A lot of the existing businesses are trying to work together. Some are anxious that this area will turn into a downtown “Main Street” sort of space, which is not necessarily what we would like to see.
Were you attracted to this community because of the arts specifically?
Yeah, in school I was studying business but I always really wanted to be an artist. I love the arts. I do all kinds of stuff: painting, drawing, and other things. The painting here (behind me) is by a Village artist, Glory Day Loflin.
How are you creating a distinct aesthetic for your space?
I have made it very warm and inviting. It feels almost, in some areas, like a living room as opposed to a stark, cold store. Another way I create an intentional environment is by helping employees understand that loving our customers is our top priority. I always tell them that it is more important for us to love our people well rather than to make the best coffee in the world. That is very important to me, but it is more important that we treat people with love and kindness.
What is your ultimate vision for the Village Grind?
For it to be a place where my community and neighbors can come and gather to build a stronger community. That is what I would like to see. A hub for the Village.