While attending local farmers markets, Kate Yeung noticed the lack of representation of Asian American business owners among the vendors.
“[Diversity] brings a different perspective … through the potential products that businesses can include… the demographic that businesses focus on … and the overall success of the business,” Yeung said.
The 23-year-old Gainesville resident left her 9-to-5 banker job to start her own business, Coterie Market, empowered by her family’s experience owning businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Currently a superfood latte pop-up, Coterie Market aims to provide a space where Asian American residents and international students can feel comfortable.
The business plans to open a brick-and-mortar store located at 206 NW 10th Ave. at the beginning of June.
Co-founders and co-owners Yeung and her 24-year-old partner Braden Ramirez want to provide popular products from multiple cultures and diversify the business so everyone in Gainesville can feel represented.
Yeung feels pride in being an Asian American business owner, and she hopes that more Asian Americans will feel encouraged to start businesses in Gainesville.
Yeung and Ramirez plan on inviting other Asian small business owners to apply to be vendors at the market, once they have officially opened their store. They joined Facebook groups and other social media that support local Asian business owners to promote this cause.
Similarly, they plan on including a variety of stationery in their store, which is very popular in Asian countries.
Yeung and Ramirez saw a gap in date night opportunities in Gainesville and wanted to provide workshops and event spaces for local couples.
They wanted to combine their favorite coffee shops, artisan shops and boutiques from around the world.
The couple wanted to create a space “where everyone can hang out together, and where they can relax and chill and not need you to be buying things [similar to a store],” Yeung said.
The market specializes in selling local products and services, hosting dried flower bouquet and fragrance-making events and selling superfood specialty lattes, which are nutrient-dense powdered ingredients mixed with a customer’s choice of milk.
The couple traveled to New York, Atlanta, Portland and other cities to research and network with different specialty stores, coffee shops and potential vendors for their storefront.
Most recently, Coterie Market partnered with Eleven TLC, a company that creates latte powders, teas and supplements. They collaborated on Coterie Market’s recent latte business addition and joined Eleven TLC at a coffee vendor convention in Portland in spring.
The group created unique flavors such as Cookie Butter, Orange Creamsicle and Banana Milk latte — which Yeung created based off of her childhood favorite, Korean banana milk.
Coterie Market plans on selling Eleven TLC’s products within its store as take-home latte powders.
Yeung and Ramirez planned to open the market the first week of January but they’re waiting for the building’s construction to finish.
“No matter how long this delay is going to take, we are going to stick with it [the building] because it is such a good location,we love the community [and] we love the people,” Yeung said. “I am just very grateful that the customers understand and the vendors understand, but when it does open we make sure that this whole journey was worth it.”
The delay came from bylaw changes for construction supplies, changes within the design plan and other general setbacks.
Some setbacks are expected in construction, such as material delays, labor shortages and the changing of structural plans, Chris Thorndike, the building owner, said.
The building will house other local businesses and restaurants in addition to Coterie Market.
Thorndike described that one of the main challenges was due to the fact that there are lots of moving pieces when it comes to construction. For example, once one thing is slowed down it can cause a domino effect and then everything else gets slowed down.
Thorndike wants to create a space that can easily become a home to anyone by accommodating a variety of local businesses in the building’s facilities, by making sure that each unit has the appropriate power, correct locations for appliances etc.
While Coterie Market waits for its official move-in day, the couple will continue to sell their specialty superfood lattes and dried flower bouquets at farmers markets and other local events for the rest of May.
This article has been updated to reflect that the co-founder of Coterie Market is Braden Ramirez. The Alligator initially reported otherwise.
Contact Emma Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emmaparkerg.
Emma Parker is a first-year journalism student. She is the metro desk news assistant. When she is not writing, she is reading a book or listening to Indie music.