Kaitlyn Davis opened Moe’s Espresso in July in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kaitlyn Davis opened Moe’s Espresso in July in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Before buying her first business at 24, she hit the books

Kaitlyn Davis finished college — then pored over three years’ worth of an espresso stand’s accounts.

ARLINGTON — Kaitlyn Davis wanted to buy her first business, an espresso stand, when she was 19.

“‘I saw it on Craigslist,” said Davis, who had recently graduated from Marysville Pilchuck High School.

But her parents nixed the idea. Davis was bound for Western Washington University in Bellingham, and they wanted her to finish college.

“I’m glad they talked me out of it,” said Davis, 27, taking a break from a harried schedule as the owner of two Arlington businesses, an espresso stand and an espresso cafe. “I wasn’t ready. I still had a lot to learn.”

Instead, she waited until she was 24 and a college graduate to buy her first business.

About a third of business owners are women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

From the time Davis graduated from high school until she graduated from Western, she worked at espresso stands.

Balancing a workload that included classes and a part-time job, helped sharpen her deadline, scheduling and management skills.

In 2014, Davis earned a bachelor’s degree and returned to Marysville.

Kiersten Baiamonte, left, and Antonio Baiamonte enjoy coffee Friday morning at Moe’s Espresso in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kiersten Baiamonte, left, and Antonio Baiamonte enjoy coffee Friday morning at Moe’s Espresso in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The plan was to earn her master’s and become a teacher, like her mother, but she needed a break. She went to work at Espresso Connection in Marysville while she pondered what to do next.

A few months later, she got a call from the owner of Blanchard Mountain Coffee, where she’d worked during her college years.

The owner of Moe’s Espresso, an established drive-thru coffee stand in Arlington, was thinking about selling the business, her former boss told her. Davis didn’t waste any time, she called the owner of Moe’s that day.

She went over the books for the previous three years and drew up a business plan.

The transaction took eight months.

“I saw areas where I could improve the business. I didn’t make an emotional purchase,” she said.

A private loan from a family member helped with the purchase.

“We had a contract drawn up.”

Katie Anderson prepares a coffee order Friday morning at Moe’s Espresso in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Katie Anderson prepares a coffee order Friday morning at Moe’s Espresso in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Nearly 40 percent of startups are financed by lenders who are also family or friends.

Still, no matter how close you are to them, they need the assurance that you’ll repay the loan, experts caution. So draw up a contract and sign it, experts at Debt.org advise.

Davis elected to keep the name Moe’s. “It already had a great reputation,” she said. The logo got a redesign, but she kept one original element— Moe’s mustache.

“I was 24 when I bought the business,” she said.

About 27 million Americans of working age are business owners, according to a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study. But a mere 5 percent are 25 and younger, the study says.

Davis still gets the occasional customer or distributor who’ll ask her to page the owner.

“That would be me,” she said with a laugh.

This summer she opened a second business, Moe’s on Olympic, at 434 N. Olympic Ave. in downtown Arlington.

A “for lease” sign outside a former ice cream parlor caught her eye last December.

Kaitlyn Davis, owner, helps a customer Friday morning at Moe’s Espresso in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kaitlyn Davis, owner, helps a customer Friday morning at Moe’s Espresso in downtown Arlington on August 24, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“I’d been thinking about a way to expand, and this was perfect,” she said.

In April, she signed the lease. To capture the summer tourist traffic, she set July Fourth as the opening date.

Davis, her new husband, Craig, and her family scrambled to meet the deadline. Together they scraped off the maroon paint that covered the inside of the windows, ripped up the old flooring and painted.

For start-up ventures on a shoestring, sweat equity is a great way to cut costs and increase value, according to Investopedia.

“We got our health permit at 4:35 p.m. on July 3,” said Davis, who’s been working 12 hour days for the past two months.

Today, Davis employs 14 part-time and full-time workers, up from six. Her employees include her sisters, Emily Webb, 24, and Ivy Enberg, 17, who only works weekends because she’s still in high school.

On a recent weekend, Davis and her husband went camping — the first weekend she’d taken off since April.

“I’m super excited to see where this goes. It’s really cool to have the stand and the coffee shop. I get to experience both.”

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Weatherstripping is installed Thursday afternoon at Pallet in Everett on January 21, 2020. (Kevin Clark/The Herald)
Everett-based Pallet offers a novel way to shelter homeless

The manufacturer’s small, temporary homes have helped hundreds of people get off the streets around Puget Sound.

An Alaska Airline plane lands at Paine Field Saturday on January 23, 2021. (Kevin Clark/The Herald)
Paine Field makes short list of airports that could grow

Arlington’s airport is also in the running, says a state group planning for future air travel demand.

The strip-mall site (bottom) where Trent Development hopes to build 350 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2020 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Hundreds more apartments planned around Lynnwood light rail

In a new proposal, a developer envisions 350 units, two buildings of at least seven stories, a one-acre courtyard and a dog spa.

(Getty Images)
You voted: The best bakery in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

submitted by Peg Tennant
Oak Harbor Farmers Market closes after more than 20 years

A new group is already planning for a new market this spring at Windjammer Park.

A Boeing 777X airplane flies over Moscow, Idaho. during a test flight Tuesday, June 23, 2020. The new model of airplane had its first flight on Jan. 25, 2020, from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The 777X will be the world's largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, according to Boeing. (Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)
Tax break proposed for manufacturers, but it needs a sponsor

Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber hopes to boost manufacturing across the state with a new incentive.

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2019 file photo Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, left, looks on as Suzi LeVine, right, the state's Employment Security Department Commissioner, talks to reporters at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. The state of Washington is calling in the National Guard to help process unemployment benefit claims as officials grapple with a backlog caused in part by a fraud ring that stole more than half a billion dollars in aid, officials said Thursday, June 11, 2020. LeVine said that Gov. Jay Inslee approved the deployment of troops who will start assisting her team next week as it tries to reduce the unemployment claim backlog.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
Head of state employment agency to join Biden administration

Suzi LeVine’s departure is effective Feb. 1. A deputy, Cami Feek, will serve as acting commissioner.

Our readers have voted on a few of their favorite things in Snohomish County. (Getty Images)
The best in Snohomish County, chosen by you

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

FILE- In this Sept. 30, 202, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
European aviation agency: 737 Max to be cleared next week

The review of the aircraft “began with the MCAS but went far beyond.”

Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, poses with a production electric engine, the magni500, at the  company's new office on Seaway Boulevard on Monday, Jan. 18, 2020 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Electric aircraft developer magniX moves HQ to Everett

The company builds electric motors, and it’s teaming with Arlington’s Eviation to launch a fully electric plane.

Matt and Jill Wurst opened Audacity Brewing in December 2020 and are now managing to stay open, with the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, at their brewery on 10th Street on Monday, Jan. 11, 2020 in Snohomish, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
It took some Audacity to open this new Snohomish brewery

The COVID-19 pandemic hit just as Matt and Jill Wurst were getting the business off the ground.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, workers stand near a Boeing 737 Max airplane parked at Renton Municipal Airport next to the Boeing assembly facility in Renton, Wash., where 737 Max airplanes are made. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, the company reported final 2020 numbers for airplane orders and deliveries, and they are down from 2019 even though the 737 Max is flying again. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Canada OKs return of Boeing 737 Max aircraft

The planes will be permitted to fly as long as they meet specific safety conditions.