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

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

Two couples walk along Hewitt Avenue around lunchtime on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett businesses say it’s time the city had its own Chamber of Commerce

The state’s seventh-largest city hasn’t had a chamber since 2011. After 13 years, businesses are rallying for its return.

Students Mary Chapman, left, and Nano Portugal, right, work together with a fusion splicer and other equipment during a fiber optic technician training demonstration at Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Sno-Isle students on the path to becoming fiber professionals

The state will roll out $1.2 billion to close gaps in internet access. But not enough professionals are working to build the infrastructure.

Washingtonians lost $250M to scammers in 2023

Identity theft, imposter scams and phony online ads were the most common schemes, a new study says.

LETI founder and president Rosario Reyes, left, and LETI director of operations Thomas Laing III, right, pose for a photo at the former Paroba College in Everett, Washington on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Woman brings Latino culture to business education in Snohomish County

Rosario Reyes spent the past 25 years helping other immigrants thrive. Now, she’s focused on sustaining her legacy.

Annie Crawley poses for a photo with her scuba gear at Brackett’s Landing near the Port of Edmonds on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Edmonds ocean activist to kids: Life is better under the sea

From clownfish to kelp, Annie Crawley has been teaching kids and adults about the ocean’s wonders for three decades.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

People walk along a newly constructed bridge at the Big Four Ice Caves hike along the Mountain Loop Highway in Snohomish County, Washington on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Check out the best tourist attractions in Snohomish County

Here’s a taste of what to do and see in Snohomish County, from shopping to sky diving.

People walk out of the Columbia Clearance Store at Seattle Premium Outlets on Thursday, April 25, 2024 in Quil Ceda Village, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Head to Tulalip for retail recreation at Seattle Premium Outlets

The outlet mall has over 130 shops. You might even bring home a furry friend.

Brandon Baker, deputy director for the Port of Edmonds, shows off the port's new logo. Credit: Port of Edmonds
A new logo sets sail for the Port of Edmonds

Port officials say after 30 years it was time for a new look

Penny Clark, owner of Travel Time of Everett Inc., at her home office on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In a changing industry, travel agents ‘so busy’ navigating modern travel

While online travel tools are everywhere, travel advisers still prove useful — and popular, says Penny Clark, of Travel Time in Arlington.

Travis Furlanic shows the fluorescent properties of sulfur tuft mushrooms during a Whidbey Wild Mushroom Tour at Tilth Farmers Market on Saturday, April 27, 2024 in Langley, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On Whidbey Island, local fungi forager offers educational mushroom tours

Every spring and fall, Travis Furlanic guides groups through county parks. His priority, he said, is education.

ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Mifthakof, left, shows Gov. Jay Inslee a hydrogen-powered motor during an event at ZeroAvia’s new Everett facility on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, near Paine Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
ZeroAvia’s new Everett center ‘a huge step in decarbonizing’ aviation

The British-American company, which is developing hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, expects one day to employ hundreds at the site.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.