Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 74 of 115

75 When women succeed, everyone wins. Join us! #WomenWhoLead #ChangeTheRatio that's different about us is that I like new challenges, and for me there's a sense of just wanting to do more. I also saw that if Tucker and I stayed the general managers of Diesel and did everything, there was so little room for anyone else to grow, and I could see that people were going to start to leave. If people wanted to leave because they wanted to do something else, I totally understand that, but if they were leaving because there wasn't any room to grow, that's a bummer." While Tucker needed a bit more convincing ("I'm just a creature of habit and I'm slow to change. She's always pushing me forward, and we usually meet in the middle, which is a good place because I'm too slow and she's maybe too fast"), once they saw and fell in love with the space that would become Bloc in Union Square, they started on the path to grow their business—a nice, steady seven years after Diesel first opened. " We talked about is this Diesel 2, is this Diesel Union, we had a million iterations of what this might be, but ultimately we decided, well, you're not going to name all your children the same thing, and there's never going to be another Diesel. We're not interested in handing out the same Monkey Wrench sandwich as in Davis Square, we want this to be its own thing and have its own person- ality. I think at the time we considered Bloc very fancy compared to Diesel," Tucker shrugs. "But it was a much more humbling way to open a store, and probably a lot more normal. We really had to work at it and build a customer base. It took about three years before we really found our footing there." Jennifer agrees, and adds the perhaps ironic idea that opening their subsequent businesses—first Bloc, and then Forge Baking and Forge Ice Cream in the past few years—has actually been more challenging than Diesel was, despite the "no's" they heard in the beginning. " When we opened Bloc, Tucker and I were again in a position where we were able to slash our salaries and take the bare mini- mum to pay rent, which helped. But opening Forge, we both had children and obligations, and it was a totally different experience: As a parent, I can't go back to eating ramen every day," she laughs. "My kids have daycare and school and good food they need to eat! So there was so much more emotional and financial pressure, and that was challenging." "Challenging" has only meant one thing to these two friends, however, and as they look back over the mini village of shops and shared spaces they've created, they are glad to reflect on how they saw that word as a motivator, not an intimidator. "I'm a contrarian by nature," admits Jennifer, "so the second someone told us to our face, 'This is a stupid idea and you're going to fail,' I was like, 'No. We're. Not.'" Tucker also remembers one piece of welcome attitude-chang- ing and unexpected advice that came at what was probably their most vulnerable time in the planning stages of Diesel. " We were going into this with so much self-doubt, insecurity about things we don't know, people not taking us seriously—and we had started to internalize that. We met with an accountant who was a friend of our boss, he worked with a ton of restaurants, and we showed him our business plan. He said, ' You guys are good, you just need to believe in yourself. You can do this. Just dig in, and do it.' For me it was so powerful because it was someone believing in us, someone in the know. From that moment on I felt a calmness that I hadn't had." Nearly 20 years later and Diesel has rarely had a calm moment, though thankfully Tucker and Jennifer have managed a few in the meantime: The lines are still perpetually long and the seats are

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