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interview with a founder: week 1

This week we're starting our interview series. The fourth week of every month we'll feature an interview with a different startup founder to give you all a peak into their lives, inspiration, and routines. 

Today we're featuring the one and only, founder of Levity Brew, Kelly Peterson. She's pretty delightful, but don't take my word for it, check out the interview below!

What was the inspiration behind Levity Brew?

I started developing Levity Brew in the Fall of 2014, when I was drinking ~7 cups of coffee a day. I wasn’t feeling my best and the coffee wasn’t even that great, but I was hooked on the caffeine - and when I didn’t have it, I felt even worse.

I began researching other stimulants that have longer-lasting effects - like theobromine and theophylline, which are naturally occurring in yerba mate and guarana - and started experimenting with those ingredients. I found that by combining coffee with tea and other herbs, I still got to enjoy the delicious richness and energetic boost of coffee, without the caffeine crash.

Where do the ingredients for levity come from?

All of Levity’s ingredients are either organic or wild-harvested. We’re particularly proud of our coffee, which is organic, fair-trade, and single-origin from a plantation in Colombia.

How would you describe the process of starting Levity Brew?

If I thought I was riding a [caffeine] rollercoaster then, starting my own business has felt like flying to the moon with no seatbelt. It sounds cliché, but it’s been both challenging and incredibly rewarding - and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends, and community. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by people who listened to my crazy ideas and said “you can do this! and how can I help?”

What experience did you have prior to founding levity?

My background was in business management; I worked in a Fortune 100 company and a fashion tech startup before going my own way. I was a barista in college and have always been a total nerd, so geeking out over coffee came naturally to me.

Are there any variations of levity coming out in the future?

Absolutely! One of the biggest pieces of feedback we’ve gotten from our beta tasters is that they want to see Levity in different flavors: mocha, mint, and chai spice are all in development. We’re also going to be offering Levity in bulk grounds, so they can brew it using whatever machinery they want. And next summer, I’d love to get Levity bottled as a cold brew to beat the heat!

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start their own company?

Stick with it - because leaving your job is not the hardest part. The biggest challenges come in the weeks and months that follow, when the excitement has worn off and you miss the stability of your old life. You start second-guessing yourself. I recently read a quote by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” It took me months to shake the anxiety of not having a salary. (Still working on the carbs, luckily not the heroin!)

How do you stay productive and accomplish your day to day tasks?

First and foremost, Levity would not be where it is without the work management tool Asana. It helps me stay focused, break down complex (and intimidating) projects, and generally stay sane.

I’m also trying to attune myself to the schedule and environment that allows me to be productive. For example, I’ve discovered that being around other people motivates me and helps me focus, so getting outside my apartment and co-working with the Makespace Creative Community or WeWork has been game-changing!

What’s it like being your own boss?

It’s all the things, great and terrible. You have no one to blame but yourself for crazy hours or struggles with decision-making, but on the flip side, it’s amazing to have the freedom to say, “I’m working from the nail salon today” and going to get a pedicure at a salon with wifi. There’s also something so powerful about being able to look at your product and think, I made this!

What inspires you?

Levity’s customers. When I’m having a bad day, I read some of the things people have written in about Levity, and it reminds me that I’m making a real difference in people’s lives.

I’m also inspired by female business leaders like Sarah Blakely, Marissa Mayer, and Sabrina Simmons - who manage to balance having a family with running a business, all the while maintaining a strong ethical compass.

How do you drink your levity?

Black or with some Hanah One mixed in - I’ve been learning more about ayurveda and holistic health and love supporting fellow food entrepreneurs. And I’m happy to report I’m down to only one cup of Levity a day :)

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