Cardamom lattes, a strong sense of community and two owners who built their business plan around “friendship first” – these are just a few things you’ll love about the story of Rain OR Shine Coffee House. Located right by Mt. Tabor City Park on 59th and Division in Portland, Oregon, Rain OR Shine is a charming part of the neighborhood. But what really differentiates this coffee shop from the rest is the courageous spirit and drive of owners Claire Teasdale and Molly Boyl, two of the most fun and enthusiastic people you’ll get to know. Together they figured out how to define extraordinary by not letting fear get in their way.
While they didn’t have an official business background, their first priority was that they wanted to remain friends and always act in the best interest of their business and friendship.
We were immediately welcomed with big smiles, delicious coffee and samples of their brand new iced tea as we sat down with Rain OR Shine’s owners to hear their story. Claire and Molly have been friends for the past 7 years and their energy is contagious. They originally met during their sophomore year at the University of Oregon through some overlapping classes and their friendship continued after college. In 2011 they were each happily living in Portland, Oregon but weren’t quite content with their work life. Claire and Molly shared that when they saw the South Tabor neighborhood coffee shop for sale in the spring of 2011, it seemed like a “golden opportunity” to try something different and build a place where the community could gather. They had shared many life experiences together as friends and knew they could trust each other as business partners. While they didn’t have an official business background, their first priority was that they wanted to remain friends and always act in the best interest of their business and friendship.
As they began their new adventure as coffee shop owners, Claire and Molly had many brainstorming sessions, observed how others had found success in similar fields and split the workload evenly between them. They noted that one of the most challenging parts of their venture was learning by doing. This was also what motivated them because it helped them grow from new experiences. Many times they had to reinvent the wheel or discover things through trial and error. Everything from selecting different coffees to brew, which vendors to use or how to design menu boards were unfamiliar yet critical decisions they made together. With the support of family, friends and mentors, they officially opened their doors on June 3, 2011 and quickly started fostering relationships with their neighbors. They hired their first employee after 6 months, took the time to learn about each of their customers and built an environment where people could connect. As their business grew, things became easier to implement and they identified ways to streamline and improve their processes. Claire and Molly found joy in each step along the way, knowing they were building something special both for themselves and for their community.
Throughout our conversation, Rain OR Shine’s door kept opening as a stream of new customers and regulars came in for their coffee, tea or food fix. Claire and Molly both love people and shared that the aspect they enjoy most about what they do is being able to build relationships and connections. They have fantastic staff, wonderful vendors and are involved within their neighborhood. Both natives of Portland, Oregon and dog owners, they enjoy all the outdoor activities the city has to offer. They even established a running group with some of their neighbors and café regulars. This commitment to their personal well-being is important to them and something they wish they would have focused on more when they were first getting started. Long days and extra hours often got in the way of being balanced with work and personal life. They recommend that anyone starting their own business sets aside time to eat right, exercise and focus on what matters outside of work. Claire and Molly often check in on each other’s personal well-being and are able to succeed because they truly trust and support each other. They have also followed through on their business plan and consistently put their friendship first.
Rain OR Shine’s owners like to incorporate personal elements into their business, such as their well-known cardamom latte (it’s a must-try!). They both love to travel and this latte was created from memories of a trip they took together to India. These special details add to the appeal of the coffee house but also provide a unique offering to anyone who stops by.
It’s been about four years since Claire and Molly first opened their doors in the South Tabor community and they are a core part of the neighborhood.
They feel Rain OR Shine is in a stable place where they each have more personal balance and the freedom to explore their passions outside of work. Regardless of where this may take them individually, they are both committed to their coffee house, the connections they have established in the community and maintaining a place where anyone can feel at home.
How can we learn from their story? Claire and Molly both shared that when the opportunity arose to buy the coffee shop, they didn’t spend too much time thinking about it but instead took action. It felt right and they didn’t let opinions, differing viewpoints or fear hold them back. If they listened to everyone around them, it’s likely they wouldn’t have opened Rain OR Shine and may still be at a standstill in their work life. What really stood out to us is their philosophy to dive in fast and to not let fear get in the way. Simply put, they said, “fear doesn’t help.” Claire and Molly believe the worst thing in life is regret and that regret is worse than fear. Letting fear or doubt creep in would have only slowed them down. For those wanting to follow their passion, their advice is to trust yourself, know that you won’t let yourself sink and remember that we all have the human will to survive in whatever it is that we set out to accomplish.
Letting fear or doubt creep in would have only slowed them down.
Stop by Rain OR Shine Coffee House. Try the cardamom latte. Embrace the sense of community. And if you are just as inspired by their story as we are, share it with others and let it help you define extraordinary.
Visit Rain OR Shine Coffee House at http://www.rainorshinepdx.com/ 5941 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206
Written by: Angelina Lusetti
Photos by: Andrea Garrity & Angelina Lusetti of Sentiero Photography