Julie Schumacher is the co-owner of Simple Coffee on Dang Thai Mai and is passionate about the ability of business to empower people and do good.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m from the US and grew up in a military family, which means I moved around a LOT. I think that had a profound influence on my love of diversity of people and cultures. I have spent the majority of my career in non-profit work, including orphan care in Africa and vocational training for formerly exploited victims in Cambodia.
Can you describe an average day for you at work?
I have a great business partner and we share responsibilities for running the business. I’m responsible for shop operations so I’m in the day-to-day details. Much of my day is spent interacting with our fabulous customers and staff, working with our vocational training students with intellectual disabilities, and just staying on top of the inventory and financial details of running a business.
How long have you been doing this role and what did you previously do?
We opened Simple Coffee’s retail location in August of 2018. Prior to joining Simple, I was working for a non-profit based in Cambodia which is focused on vocational training for survivors of human trafficking.
Why did you get into the business?
I’m a firm believer in empowering people, especially those on the margins of society, with the ability to change their lives through job skills and work with dignity. So many of life’s vulnerabilities come as a result of lack of income and opportunity and almost always through no fault of the vulnerable person. If I can play a small role in bettering the future of a fellow human by providing job skills training or employment, then it’s a profound privilege to do so.
What do you love most about your role?
I love the people part of what I do — from working with our excellent staff and interacting with our vocational training students to the daily conversation with new and regular customers, the people make it all worthwhile. The tagline for Simple Coffee is “coffee brings people together”, and we see the fruit of that every day.
What do you find may be difficult for women in this industry?/What difficulties have you gone through to develop into who you are today?
Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy. We need to believe we have something to contribute and not allow the lies we were either told or we’ve come to believe steer us away from taking risks or living into our potential. I would say that’s been one of my bigger struggles — recognizing that it’s ok (normal) to have fears or feel inadequate. It’s a journey!
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I love that there is an increasing focus on the power of women to effect change. There’s no stopping us if we are just given the opportunity to show what we can do and allow our voices to be heard. We have so much to contribute. I feel like Women’s Day is a time where we all become a little more aware of our collective power.
Who is the woman you admire the most?
Oh wow, just one? There are so many I admire for different reasons. I think the traits I admire most are quiet, steadfast, selfless determination. Anyone can bang their own drum but to buckle down and stay the course without any fanfare is something I admire and try to emulate. Some of the women I admire most are people no one has ever heard of.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
This is huge in my book. We need to celebrate the accomplishments and determination of one another. It’s too easy to find fault and tear down but what good does that do? Championing women in their unique stories and achievements has so much more beauty. I think most of us have experienced the empowerment that comes from someone who believes in us.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
One of my life mottos is “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” In other words, sometimes (most of the time) you just have to do it scared. If you wait to feel ready, brave, or qualified, you probably won’t make the leap. Surround yourself with wise counselors and people who are already in the business world, have a good plan, and go for it!