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Exploring Life & Business with Dawn Kaprielian of Lekker Coffee & Watering Hole

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn Kaprielian.

Hi Dawn, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
In 1946, my grandmother, Geri, opened a bar in Parlier, CA with her husband Lloyd.. the bar was called Lloyd & Geri’s. My father, Doc, ran the bar after they passed away and I ran it for ten years after my dad passed. Prior to running the bar, I had been a purchaser for the clothing store Benetton as my husband, Rick, and I owned 11 stores across the West Coast. Rick passed away in 1993 in a boating accident when I was pregnant with my second child who is named after his father. My first child, Kara, was two years old at the time of the accident. From that time on, I was a stay at home mom focused on making sure my children had the best upbringing I could give them as a single parent. One of the things I always taught them was that you only live once so you’ve got to give it your all and do what you love. That is ultimately what brought me to Denver to open up Lekker Coffee & Watering Hole with my daughter, Kara.

Kara has always loved animals. She used to write me PowerPoints when she was younger convincing me to get her new pets all of the time. Kara went to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and minored in Equine Science thinking she would go to vet school. Once she graduated, she got a job in technology consulting and ended up moving to Denver in 2015 to open an office for the firm she was working for at the time. She didn’t love the job so she ended up quitting after getting the office up and running to travel with her now husband, Brett. She decided to end her trip in South Africa at a rhino orphanage called Care For Wild. Little did I know that her visit there would leave such an impact! Once she returned to the US, she moved back to Denver and got another job in tech but still didn’t love it. I had just hit my ten years mark running the bar and was trying to figure out what to do next as I knew I couldn’t run the bar forever. Kara proposed moving to Denver so we could do something together, although neither of us were sure what that looked like. We decided on coffee based on the fact that we both love human connection and are morning people! I moved to Denver in September 2019 as we had just signed a lease to open up our new shop. Then Covid-19 hit and changed everything. We ended up deciding against the original space and kept looking- finding an even more amazing space that had already been built out as a coffee shop! We signed a new lease in August 2020 and haven’t looked back since!

The concept of the shop is to help with rhino conservation given my daughters’ passion. We donate 10% of our profits back to Care For Wild and are looking forward to continuing to help in the fight against rhino poaching.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Absolutely not! I learned very early on that life is full of challenges and that you always need to be ready for a curveball. Opening a coffee shop when you’ve never ran one before is a huge struggle in itself. Having everyone tell you that you can’t do it, on the other hand, was extremely motivating for Kara & I. Enough so that we have coffee mugs in the shop that say ‘Actually I Can’. That’s one of the biggest lessons I wish more people would take to heart- you should take a chance, and if you work hard and love what you do, you will succeed!

As you know, we’re big fans of Lekker Coffee & Watering Hole. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Lekker Coffee is a mother-daughter founded and operated coffee shop located in the RiNo Arts District of Denver, CO. We are the definition of a family run business – Kara and I are at the shop everyday and Kara’s husband, Brett, helps out during rushes. We just hired our first part-time employee, Tara, to help out a few days per week. We really work hard to in ensure all of our customers have an amazing experience every time they walk into the shop. We care how your coffee tastes and, if you don’t like it, we will make you a new one. We’ve partnered with multiple other women-owned and/or small businesses that help elevate our offerings at Lekker & we believe in going the extra mile no matter how tough the terrain.

We’re incredibly proud to say that we were able to donate almost $8k to Care For Wild in our first year of business. We are proud of the brand we’re building as a family and are proud to share a piece of it with each and every one of our customers.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
When you come to Denver, stop in and say hello!

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Chris Limbrick

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