My very first interview. Happens to be with two women that I have grown to love over the span of a few years. My favorite coffee shop in East Sac, Tiferet, is owned by Sabrina and Makeda Berhane. I immediately bonded with them throughout my short year of living on H street. Their infectious personalities and genuine smiles make it hard not to love them. Their coffee shop has the cutest layout and of course, the most delicious coffee.
When I contacted them regarding this interview, one of them responded with, “We make all decisions together, but I’m sure it will be a yes.” That is what sets these business owners apart from the rest, their constant regard for eachother. That is why I believe they have been so utterly successful in the last three years.
Tiferet is the Hebrew word for glory and gratitude. Their logo is the tree of life coming out of a coffee cup, which, to us coffee lovers, is obvious perfection. I am sure most of us can agree that coffee=life. They opened their first location in August 2014 which is located on the corner of H street and Alhambra. Not even one year later, June 2015, they opened their second location inside City Hall downtown Sacramento. Many of you that live downtown and have to renew your parking permits (or pay those damn parking tickets) most likely have walked by their cute counter located directly inside City Hall.
Just a few months ago, they opened their THIRD location (where we had this interview) inside the Mercy Medical Plaza in East Sac. How awesome is that!? As I walked through their doors, they immediately greeted me with hugs and a cup of their infamous cold brew coffee. After a quick photo sesh and some catching up, we dove into the interview. It was so refreshing talking with these girls about their accomplishments, trials and tribulations, and future aspirations with Tiferet.
Both Sabrina and Makeda started out as realtors before diving head first into the tumultuous waters of entrepreneurship. Sabrina explained being an entrepreneur as having “the freedom to create a quality of life for ourselves, our team, and our customers, that everybody desires.” Makeda followed it up with explaining how entrepreneurism allows them to be their “authentic selves” and live within their creation. It was obvious to me that these ladies were destined to become business owners based on their outgoing, driven personalities, and their passion for others.
Knowing the amount of knowledge, experience, and insight these women have from opening three coffee shops in the span of three years, I asked them what advice they would give aspiring entrepreneurs. Take notes ladies!
“If you’re going to take a leap of faith, you really have to believe it’s going to work.”
“Prepare yourself to work harder than you’ve ever worked, and feel more satisfied than you’ve ever felt.”
“Don’t lose focus, but be flexible on the path that you take to get to your goal.”
They gave a few examples about the importance of being flexible and understanding that some things won’t necessarily go as plan. Three days before they opened their first location, they had to part ways with their original roaster. If you know anything about the coffee shop industry, you know how vital it is to have a good relationship with your roaster! Their resilient nature kept them focused on the goal of opening, and they ended up finding a roaster that allowed them to “flourish.”
When talking about failures, it was apparent that Sabrina and Makeda looked at hard times not as failures, but as “learning opportunities” that helped them grow. Makeda explained the importance of delegation within the business, and understanding the need to assign tasks to the people that work with them and trust that said tasks will be done accordingly. This also goes hand in hand with time management, which we all could work on! As business owners, we forget the importance of “self-care,” and inadvertently drive ourselves into the ground without realizing. It’s crucial to set time aside to regroup and center ourselves in order to be productivity queens-can I get an AMEN!
Before the success of Tiferet, Sabrina and Makeda shared that they both lost everything. They call this current chapter of their lives “their rebirth.” They credit that low point to giving them a deeper appreciation for their abilities. We can all relate to this. How often do the dark times transform our perception of the triumphs in our lives? The highs and the lows are the rhythm of our heartbeat; a reason to continue surviving and thriving.
The support of family can potentially make or break a business. With the Tiferet family, they have all the support in the world. “Even though we’re adult children, I think as their children, it feels really good to make our parents so proud.” Makeda said that their parents “glow” when they see the success of their two daughters. Although opening multiple business can have negative effects on the family unit, the Berhane sisters credit Tiferet for “bringing their family together.”
It’s important to always continue learning about business and search for mentors to help guide you in the right direction. When asked about who has inspired them, Sabrina surprised me with her answer. She credits the guys from priority parking at Harv’s Carwash for teaching her invaluable business advice. She did some marketing work for them when they were first opening; she picked their brains and they happily answered her questions. Goes to show sometimes the best advice comes from an unexpected friend.
Towards the end of our interview, we talked once again about the importance of time management. To my relief, they are now closed on Sundays which allows them to once again “relearn what it is that we love to do” which includes salsa nights for Sabrina and more at home cooking for Makeda. Having more free time on their hands allowed them to go watch “Lady Bird” at the Tower Theater, which we gushed about for a while. We agreed how exciting it was to watch our precious city of Sacramento magnified on screen for millions of people to admire. They both expressed their love for this city and how important it is for them to be involved in this ever growing community, and to continue providing outstanding customer service and a unique, loving environment for their loyal customers.
Spending the afternoon with these lovely ladies was the highlight of my week. Women like Sabrina and Makeda Berhane are the reasons why Women of Sacramento was created. They embody the true spirit of small business owners in Sacramento. Their success is a reflection of their selfless, compassionate nature. Let’s continue to show our love and support for our fellow female bad asses and keep buying their delicious coffee!