Interview with Ella Jesmajian, Founder of Honey & Roses Coffee

Ella Jesmajian_Exeleon Magazine

What according to you makes one a dynamic leader? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

Ella Jesmajian: A dynamic leader, according to me, is someone who works beside his or her staff and co-workers, rather than above them. Further, it is important to create a fun and healthy work environment that promotes and supports everyone’s different skills and strengths. Far too often, one sees leaders talking down to the people who work for them. Those people are the heart and soul of your company, and they likely know far more about their specific job than you do. Thus, it’s important to be organized and diligent, while at the same time listening to what they have to say and learning from their skills.

Talk to us about your growing up years and your earliest memory as a leader?

Ella Jesmajian: I spent a decade working in the restaurant industry prior to founding Honey & Roses Coffee, and I was constantly put into situations where I needed to show leadership. I remember being thrown into a situation where I went from working as a waitress to a manager overnight. With no prior experience in management, I was forced to learn, adapt, and grow on my feet. The pressure of the switch and the challenge ultimately helped me gain a better understanding of what it takes to own and manage a business.

What led to the formation of Honey & Roses Coffee? What was the idea behind the name of the company?

Ella Jesmajian: Honey and Roses Coffee was founded because my Co-founder and I were both driving over an hour weekly to purchase high quality coffee. At the time, there was a gap in the market for an easier and convenient way to discover new coffee roasters and purchase coffee seamlessly. We also were fond of the idea of creating a community-based platform that could offer more of a souk or marketplace-like experience to our customers.

Once we decided on the concept, we struggled to find a name that we felt worked for the company. Unsurprisingly, almost every single name we came up with was already taken. One afternoon I was sitting in London, drinking a Honey & Roses Latte and I thought this would be the perfect name for a company. My business partner Joe is British, and I am of Armenian descent. We typically use rose water and rose petals in our deserts and Joe always drank his tea with honey. It felt like the perfect homage to our nationalities.

Being the Co-Founder, what role do you play in the day-to-day proceedings of the company?

Ella Jesmajian: I run the marketing, social media, content creation, and product development for the company. I am also the brand’s photographer and designer. We have a nice division of labor, as my business partner’s strengths lie in operations and finance.

What has the journey been like for Ella Jesmajian over the years? Looking back, what would you have done differently when starting out?

Ella Jesmajian: I definitely would have spent less time trying to make everything perfect. I spent so much time analyzing the content I put out, that I didn’t focus on the analytics and data. If people aren’t responding to a product or a graphic, it doesn’t matter how perfect the design is. There have been many obstacles and challenges that I wish I had handled differently or known more about prior to facing them. However, those challenges provided avenues for growth and evolution of the company. So, I really don’t regret any of the choices that were made in the early stages of starting Honey & Roses Coffee.

What is the process followed by Honey & Roses Coffee in order to ensure optimal client satisfaction?

Ella Jesmajian: We have created a personal customer service relationship between our customers and our team. We are responsive, informal, and always receptive to feedback, criticism, and suggestions. This helps us ensure that our customers are satisfied with our company. We tend to lean into a more informal approach to customer service and our customers are very responsive to that.

What would be your advice for young and aspiring leaders or entrepreneurs?

Ella Jesmajian: Do something you’re passionate about and push through even when you want to give up. For every 5 steps forward, it will feel like 10 steps back. But if you push through those moments, you’ll come out the other side with a wealth of knowledge, experience and fulfillment.

What has been the biggest roadblock during your journey? What has been your biggest learning?

Ella Jesmajian: Without question, COVID has been a huge challenge for us. Practically overnight, the coffee industry moved almost entirely online resulting in the growth of competition and an exponential rise in the cost of advertising. We struggled for months, trying to find the perfect balance between paid advertising and organic. And ultimately, we had to change our marketing strategy to compete with the bigger corporate entities dominating the online coffee space. Those challenges were unprecedented, but ultimately provided incredible results for the growth of our company.

Moving forward, what does the future look like for you and Honey & Roses Coffee?

Ella Jesmajian: We are so excited to see the company evolve, grow and become a well-known trusted marketplace for coffee, sweets, and homeware. We recently took on a new partner as well, which is changing the landscape of the company drastically. Actor Ryan Hansen joined our company as co-owner and creative director. We have many exciting projects in the works, and we can’t wait to share them all with our loyal customers and many new ones as well.

Visit the 100 Dynamic Leaders of the Year page.

Visit Ella Jesmajian’s Website.

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