The Bodega Does Good Work with Good Coffee
Clutch MOV is proud to sponsor this year’s Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. We envision a community where citizens can take risks on the promise that success would uplift the residents of our valley. Artists, creators, makers, and small business owners strive to build something anew, something worth putting their stamp on – to promote and share with each other – and entrepreneurs are on the edge, finding ways to build in a way that hasn’t been done before. This year we received dozens of nominations for innovative, forward-thinking, community-building entrepreneurs from the Mid-Ohio Valley. The panel believed six individuals stood out for the impact they are making through their work. We are sharing their stories in this series.
The entrepreneurial spirit can inspire in both small and large moments of an individual’s life and for Jennifer Wright, the owner of The Bodega in Vienna, West Virginia, this spirit started to grow a decade ago in Honduras when she witnessed the disparity between worker pay and company profits with coffee.
According to Wright, an entire day’s wage was $1 for a worker while coffee was selling for $4 a cup on average in the United States. This is how The Bodega was born, with a desire to provide better circumstances for Honduran families who work hard to grow and provide the beans used to produce coffee. Wright’s philosophy is hinged on leveraging the good and to do better for Honduran families that ultimately helps to end generational poverty.
“One day I drove by the cutest little storefront in Vienna and saw a ‘For Rent’ sign in the window. Something in my heart knew that was supposed to be my coffee shop,” said Wright.
“My hope is that The Bodega will be a bridge between the bean and the cup, and touch all the people in between. On a very basic level, I want to be able to connect my heart for missions and helping people in other parts of the world to our community here in the Mid-Ohio Valley. I want to help be a voice here for purchasing with a purpose,” she said.
In addition to being a voice for helping people in other parts of the world, Wright also recognized a local need for gathering space where people could come together to meet and share conversations. According to the person who put Wright forward for the Mid-Ohio Valley Entrepreneur of the Year, the goal of creating a comfortable space for people to gather has been achieved.
“It’s quaint, cozy, and perfect for people of all ages. Jenn uses her space to allow others to display their work, she gives back to missions all over the world, and she provides a safe haven for all,” said the nominator.
“It’s the little things at The Bodega that make a huge difference. From ‘Pay It Forwards’ on their wall to allowing other small businesses to partner with them by selling their merchandise in her store and bringing in live entertainment, Jenn is always finding ways to encourage and inspire others,” said the nominator.
As a small business owner, being driven by inspiration and a purpose sets a strong foundation but gaining the skills to manage the business is also essential. The Bodega has grown since opening to now include a mobile trailer to host pop-up coffee shops at community events.
“When you’re working for yourself and running your own business, you get to start making decisions about what you want the business to be known for and how you want to reach out and love on people. That’s what keeps you going when it’s hard – knowing you get to wake up and make choices that will make a difference for someone today,” said Wright.
“The most challenging part for me is never clocking out, going home, and being ‘off duty.’ My brain is always running, dreaming, problem-solving for my business and that’s great – but sometimes, finding the balance between being who you want to be for the people who matter most to you and feeling a bit like a robot is a challenge,” said Wright.
Jennifer said the community of entrepreneurs in the Mid-Ohio Valley has been very supportive of The Bodega, offering wisdom and encouragement and connection that has helped her be brave as she follows her dreams and hopes to make an impact.
As a member of the MOV’s community of entrepreneurs herself, Wright has advice for others who are thinking about starting their own business or organization. First and foremost, she wants entrepreneurs to realize that the risk in starting a business or launching a dream is worth taking.
“There won’t ever be a day that starting a business or launching a dream isn’t a risk. It’s a huge risk some days. You sink pretty much everything you’ve got into the chance that this thing will take off. To not risk is to never hope or believe that it can turn into something amazing. I am certainly not suggesting to be reckless and impulsive and selfish in taking risks, but realize that launching a dream and starting a business is a risk – and it’s worth being unsure of and taking a chance,” said Wright.
Second, The Bodega owner wants aspiring entrepreneurs to know a dream is worth chasing and that chasing is exactly what following a dream requires.
“It requires intentional choices one after another of doing the next right thing. It’s sacrificing for it. It’s hanging on to it during pandemics and financial drought and conflict and hard days when you think it might be easier to give up. Every single successful entrepreneur I know spent lots of days, and most of them years, ‘chasing’ the dream before they saw any great success,” said Wright.
Third, and perhaps most connected to The Bodega’s mission to do good work, is to be grateful for the opportunity to chase a dream in the first palace.
“Be grateful as heck that you get to live out a dream because two-thirds of the rest of the world would love to move beyond just surviving to get the opportunity to hope for a dream. We owe it to them to handle the privilege of our dreams with care,” said Wright.
The Bodega’s nominator sees the owner as always putting others first, as being creative to keep the community spirit alive, and as a faithful leader who believes she will continue to be seen through.
“Once you meet Jenn, you’re instantly friends. She’ll do anything for anyone. She has a huge heart and is making a difference in the hearts of many in our community and around the world. Jenn has worked tirelessly to make this dream become a reality and it would be so nice for her to receive this acknowledgment as a little way to say thank you for all she’s done. “Drink good coffee… Do good work,” said the nominator.