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Community comes up a lot in any conversation with Autumn Pruitt, founder of Hardy Coffee. Pruitt began by creating a vibrant communal space in the community, then quickly grew into supporting other local businesses to ensure Omaha’s food community thrives. Attendees of Kitchen Council Presents: An Evening with Autumn Pruitt got an inside look at how coffee can change local ecosystems. The series aims to pick the brains of Omaha’s food creatives, with lessons that relate to the kitchen and the conference room. Autumn’s talk did just that.

An alum of North High School, Autumn always knew her life would involve nourishment and neighbors. Her degree in business and the humanities helped her see both sides of the coin; how to run a business that was people-focused and centered. From her first foray into entrepreneurship, taking on Bliss Bakery, to expanding into coffee with Aromas, to roasting her own beans through Hardy, Autumn has been aware of her intentions and her opportunities. 

A big lesson from the night was to be open to new possibilities no matter when or how they present themselves. Having guard rails to ensure the opportunity is in your wheelhouse is important, but making mistakes that you can learn from and use to develop your business in new ways is just as impactful. The end result could very well be your own Hardy Coffee, an organization with three locations, a staff that truly is family and the opportunity to create a space for the community they’re in.

Autumn discussed highs (opening Hardy’s Highlander location) and lows (struggling to fit into a concept that was the opposite of Hardy’s culture) in even measure. The honesty was apparent and refreshing, a glimpse inside the reality of life as an entrepreneur, especially in the food space, and helpful to those eager to start something themselves.

“I wish there had been something like this when we started the bakery. Events like this, where you get to connect with people at similar places in life and places in business really help you realize how much overlap there is. You start realizing you aren’t alone in the struggles or the celebrations.”

Attendees left feeling similar, appreciating that Kitchen Council has built a space for these conversations to happen not just with members, but with other food entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and the community.

“When you hear someone genuinely talking about the steps they had to take to be where they are, and not just the success, you can relate better,” one attendee said while a potential member agreed and added “as a burgeoning food entrepreneur, additional events and benefits like this series are so important. The opportunity to hear the personal experience from someone who has grown into multiple locations, something I aspire to, first hand, is helpful.”

Kitchen Council hosts a number of events throughout the year aimed to engage both current and potential food entrepreneurs, as well as the community that supports them. We hope you will join us for our Food Branding Secrets session on March 27 with Dave Nelson from SecretPenguin for more insights and conversation.

Story written by Ashley Rae Turner.