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Article: Meet Soonkack Kook

Meet Soonkack Kook

Meet Soonkack Kook

We recently connected with Soonkack Kook and have shared our conversation below.

Soonkack, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. What do you think matters most in terms of achieving success?

I am so lucky that I am doing something I love, and I have found what I like to do. I believe I will be closer to being successful than people who is not enjoying what they do for living. I did not stop there. I wanted to be good at it. I did everything that textbook would say. I went to local shops and worked there as a barista, a cook, and a baker for years. After that, I went to many schools that taught me how to bake, how to cook, how to brew coffee and how to roast. Most important part is I am doing something I am enjoying and passionate about. I love coffee. I love having my own business. I Ama very social person who loves making friends and dealing with people. I have a plan, and I have been executing it

As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?

I was a software engineer, then found an opportunity of getting into a franchise restaurant. The pay was actually less but loved the part that I was being my own boss. I could not go back to working for someone else. I wanted to create something of my own, and was getting ready for launching a brunch restaurant. I went to a cooking school, baking school, and a coffee school. The more I studied, I realized that I want to have my own coffeeshop than a brunch restaurants. I started working for Starbucks with the little education I had. I quickly realized that it was not coffee I wanted to do, but still worked there about 1 year and half to learn how to process massive amount of orders. then I searched top 10 specialty coffee shops in Houston, and began to work there to learn about specialty coffees. once I felt like I was ready, I began to seek for educations. my goal was collecting every certificates that are highly recognized in the industry. Also, I found few that are very well known in the industry for specific knowledge and took lessons from them. I went on a coffeeshop trip to learn the culture. Once everything was done, I signed a lease with the location I found. It took 14 months to build my shop. I did not waste the time. I worked back in local coffeeshops again and studied more about coffee. As I study more, I found many equipments that are known for helping making good coffee, I bought them all. I bought top of the line equipments. I wanted to make my coffeeshop a coffeeshop every barista wants to work at. In order to do it, I had to set a good playground for them with tools and equipments that they love to play with. Also,I wanted to make my coffeeshop a local hub. I connect regulars to regulars. My goal is when a customer comes to my shop, there is gonna be at least one person in the shop he knows, and I feel like it is working out so far

Can you open up about a time when you had a really close call with the business?

after signing the lease, I started working at coffeeshops again to make sure my hands experiences are not forgotten. Apparently, my coffeeshop construction took 14 months, and salary I was getting as a barista was not enough to pay the rent of my shop. Also, I was still studying coffees and finding out new equipments that can make my coffee tastier, so I bought new equipments. Also, coming from working as a barista, I wanted to create a working environment that makes barista job easier. as result, I was buying more equipments I could not afford. Eventually, I ran out of money and I did not have money to pay the next month rent. my only solution was opening my store, and 2 days after I got my occupancy, I opened my shop

What’s been the most effective strategy for growing your clientele?

I believe I am selling customer experience, not $5 coffee. I want to create a space where people can come and meet friends, a space they can always find a friend, and a space they can meet new friends. I have been connecting my regulars with other regulars, and this created worlds of mouth.

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Image Credits
Jeremy Kabala

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