Small Business Celebration Day 2 Fan Favorite: Messenger Coffee Co and Ibis Bakery
Sep 02, 2020
Today we announced the Honeywell Fan Favorite Award for the Small Business Celebration Candidates’ Showcase Day 2 from August 20. Viewers voted and they chose Messenger Coffee Co and Ibis Bakery! We turned the member spotlight on Messenger to share more of their small business story.
For Messenger Coffee Co and Ibis Bakery, it’s all about respect. Respect for customers, respect for employers, and respect from where their ingredients come from: farmers. That’s something that has guided this small business since it was founded in 2013. In fact, it’s their mission.
“We serve and respect every hand before and after us in the supply chain, making choices that reflect ecological sustainability and social fairness,” said President Isaac Hodges. “We are elevating standards around bread, pastry, and coffee, helping to establish ourselves as authorities in our industry through hospitality and quality.”
The founders of Messenger wanted to change the future of coffee and pastry in Kansas City and beyond – a lofty goal when you consider that KC is home to so many great coffee shops and roasters. But Messenger knew they could succeed by putting farm relationships first. "Whether that meant coffee farms in South American villages or wheat farms in Missouri and Kansas,” explains Hodges. “A deep engagement at the farm level helps us make buying decisions that are fair and sustainable and have a lasting impact throughout the entirety of the supply chain. At the farm, we get a first-hand look at what the quality should be, and we hold ourselves to a high standard in serving the end-product to our customers at both the wholesale and retail levels.”
The first four years of the business were about farm relationships and establishing relationships with other local coffee shops with their product. It wasn’t until 2017 when Messenger opened their flagship café in the Crossroads. Those early partnerships have been key in helping Messenger succeed and grow. Their coffee is sold in more than 30 locations across Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and even St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As success came, momentum stopped in early 2020 when Messenger, like so many of KC’s small businesses, was hit hard by COVID-19. “It was an incredible challenge for us,” said Hodges. The pandemic forced Messenger to lay off more than 120 staff members, and strip down procedures to essential programming only. “We had to dig deep as a smaller team and figure out how to survive and overcome the daily challenges that were and continue to be presented to us.”
Five months after the onset of the pandemic, Messenger has survived. They rebuilt their team and currently have more than 100 employees and grew their business through new avenues of revenue and customers. “We're so proud of our teams who continue to think of the future and how we can impact our growth even in the midst of a survival season,” said Hodges. “We are a fortunate group to have the best of the best working with us. Also, the fall is upon us, so be on the lookout for some incredible new concepts from our bakers and coffee makers!”
Hodges is grateful that Messenger is in KC. He credits the area’s dedication to supporting local businesses as a lifesaver. “People are proud to buy local and reinvest their money and time in our spaces. Kansas City does this so well because the infrastructure for support, communication, appreciation, and distribution of locally made goods and services is present and thriving. We see that our city isn't done; we are continuing to build upon that local foundation, and we believe in a very bright future for KC!”
Special thanks to Honeywell for sponsoring our first Small Business Fan Favorite Award. Make sure you read about our Day 1 Honeywell Fan Favorite winner as well: KJO Media. Cheer on Messenger, KJO, and the other small businesses in the 2020 Small Business Celebration. We will announce the Top 10 Small Businesses on Friday, September 4. Keep an eye on the Chamber’s social media platforms for that announcement!