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

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