Missy owns and runs an award-winning chain of coffee shops. Interestingly, she is coming from basically zero knowledge of that business. Being open, curious, and energetic, not to mention having a great smile, will get you a long way in this world. Just say yes, and you never know where it will lead.
A 54-year-old divorced single mom who has a great relationship with her daughter and, amazingly, her ex-husband, Missy is having a ball. Her energy and positivity are infectious; being in one of her Publik Coffee shops is a wonderfully uplifting experience. The people who work there and the people who frequent there are engaged and cheery. Creating a successful business that also has this kind of vibe comes from one place: a founder with the values that attract these people. This is not one of those corporate big ideas; this comes from a single woman manifesting her spirit and energy into the world. These coffee shops work because Missy makes it that way.
We think Missy is a rockstar.
How old are you?
54 … going on 24 🙂
You are living in SLC, rather than in the nearby mountains. Why are you choosing the city?
Having grown up in a small, culturally rich, beautiful Colorado mountain town, that life could never be replicated. I love Salt Lake City! There are so many trails and hills right outside my door, and the proximity to ALL of the canyons and ALL of the mountains and resorts is remarkable! SLC is also just enough urban … and it’s only 15 mins to the airport.
You have an interesting lineage, and that you only at 20 discovered who your birth father was. How did that impact you?
It gave me so much clarity and there were so many things about my childhood and my life that made more sense. I hadn’t had an easy, soulful, familial connection with the man I thought was my father so it was, in many ways, very freeing. It definitely gave me a much deeper sense of my own values and a patent knowing of the things that matter to me. Those sensibilities are very much intrinsic.
What is it like to have a 23-year-old daughter?
Grace, my daughter, is one of the most incredible humans in my life. She has her dad’s discipline, smarts, steadiness and, I think, my determination and levity. She’s funny and curious and incredibly capable. She’s my favorite person. When I was pregnant, I joked that I wanted the baby to have his brain and my hair — and it worked out. Although, she’s a brunette. 😉
You seem to be one of the more happily divorced people we know. How did you manage to pull that off?
My ex-husband is one of the calmest and kindest people you will ever meet. He’s an excellent father and has complete integrity in every situation. He’s in my top 5 favorite people.
Are you dating? What is that scene like in SLC?
HARD PASS on this question. Dating in Utah sucks — ass. Ask any single woman over 40! YUCK.
You are the founder and owner of a wonderful group of coffee shops. Why did you get into the coffee business? Did you have a background in it?
Publik began within a partnership which quickly revealed itself to be completely misaligned. When I became the sole owner, I had to learn everything. I had worked in restaurants in high school and college, but I had never done food and beverage, nor this industry at this level. I love and am comfortable in the construction/renovation world. The buildings and spaces were mine to create and design, as was the marketing of the business. I had to do a quick maneuver and was able to hire very talented people. I’m still learning so many things about coffee, which is fascinating and also limitless. But I still don’t know how to make a latte — it’s on my to-do list!
How does being your age help you in the running of your business?
54 years of life and work experience is definitely woven through my lens. I have had a huge and incredible life, full of amazing mentors and bosses. I’ve definitely taken all of my collective work experiences to show up as the owner, but I rely on my team 100%. Each of them have skills and wisdom that I don’t and that’s how it should be. We have an expression at Publik: Everyone do what you’re good at, but always keep learning.
“I have the best people and they attract amazing co-workers”
You have an all-woman-run roastery. Is that by design?
The all-women roastery team happened organically, but I am ecstatic because they are dedicated and diligent and creative and fun! They are detail oriented perfectionists and it shows: We were just named Best Coffee Roaster in Utah by Food and Wine, which isn’t a reader’s poll and is an incredible and legit honor. These women did that! They are really interesting and good humans and I value them immensely.
You seem to have wonderful people working with you. How do you find/hire them?
I am the luckiest! Truly. I have the best people and they attract amazing co-workers. They build the culture at each location, and each location has its own personality. We call them the GOATS because our mascot is a goat rider (coffee lore talks about goat herders, but ours RIDES the goats and looks a bit like the devil; his name is Omar), but also because they truly are the “greatest of all time.” They are multi-talented, outside of Publik — many are artists, musicians and college students. Overall, we are a family — a wacky, eccentric family.
If you have to fire someone, how do you do it?
It has happened pretty infrequently. But … you just do it.
How do you manage your life/work balance?
I am so supported by an amazing team at work, so I’m able to make time for myself and I now do that intentionally. I have an incredible friend group, access to skiing and hiking, and there’s always something going on in our city that inspires me.
What is it that you learn from working with all these younger people?
I learn everything! They are culture seekers and culture builders. The world is very different for 20-something-year-olds and I love that I am privy to so much of their generation’s happenings. They all exude relevance and I’m lucky enough to glean some intel on the regular — sometimes it’s just eavesdropping or watching their Insta Stories but, overall, they have taught me to listen.
Non-Profit Supporting Youth
You are involved with a running of a non-profit that helps young people get into media. What is that about and why does it interest you?
It’s about giving back. As someone who has been given so much in life, it’s my obligation. Serving on the Spy Hop board of directors is an honor. In 2015, we were given an after-school programming award by Michelle Obama; and Mackenzie Scott found us last year and gave us a significant grant that completed our capital campaign for our new media arts building. The organization provides opportunities for youth who are often alternative learners. The youth are the future and we all need to find ways to lift them up and help them set a path for their lives to effect positive change in our communities and in the world. Spy Hop does that.
What is your favorite hot beverage?
8 oz quad latte made by any barista at any Publik.
What podcasts have you been listening to recently?
The City Cast Salt Lake podcast (I listen everyday!) with Ali Vallarta.
How I Built This with Guy Raz
The Daily — DAILY!
Favorite guilty-pleasure streaming TV shows?
I don’t watch a lot of TV … oops.
What are the 3 non-negotiables in your life?
Never work with assholes (don’t hang out with them either).
Saying “no” to things that don’t inspire me or pique my curiosity.
7 hours of sleep — every single night.
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