Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia McMullin.
Claudia, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I moved to Park City from NYC in 1999 with the goal of not practicing law anymore after 10 years in a Wall Street law firm. But, since it was all I knew, I practiced law as little as possible while looking for other career options. In my career search, I tried a number of things including running the animal rescue, Nuzzles & Co., holding public office, and buying a coffee shop.
I launched Hugo Coffee Roasters in December 2015 and named it after my handsome rescue pup, Hugo. Hugo Coffee Roasters is a female-founded and certified coffee roaster whose mission is to save animals by roasting and selling fantastic fair-trade organic coffee. Our vision is to be the go-to coffee for animal lovers nationwide. We donate to small animal rescues and sanctuaries weekly as a result of our weekly weeklong online fundraisers benefitting a specific small, financially strapped, volunteer-based rescue or sanctuary.
Hugo Coffee is sold nationwide online and in brick & mortar grocers including Whole Foods, Harmons, Harris Teeter, and Bristol Farms. And, of course, you can also find Hugo Coffee and many of our wonderful (and 5 stars) hotels and restaurants including Blue Sky Auberge, St. Regis Deer Valley, and Montage.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Oh my! Well, for starters, when Covid hit in March 2020, I lost 95% of my business overnight as all of my foodservice customers, including hotels, restaurants, universities, cafes, and corporate headquarters closed. This was terrifying. My immediate job became to raise as much money as I could as fast as I could.
And, I did by winning grant money (Stacy’s Rise Project, Tory Burch Fellowship, Fed Ex, Main Street Preservation Fund, among others) and getting loans (PPP, EIDL, UMLF). Luckily, as a result of going through the Goldman Sachs 10000 Small Business Program in 2019, I knew that my revenue streams needed to be diversified and when Covid hit I was in the middle of hiring a marketing team, a brand audit, and revising my website to include a robust Shopify online store.
I was also hiring brokers and seeking distributors for brick & mortar groceries. By the end of 2020, my revenue streams were equally distributed among food service, brick & mortar grocery, and online sales. Today, Hugo has not only recovered but has almost doubled in sales over 2019 and 2020.
As you know, we’re big fans of Hugo Coffee Roasters. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
What sets Hugo Coffee Roasters apart from its many competitors is four-fold: 1. Hugo Coffee is WBENC certified, (2) Hugo Coffee is nationwide in grocery chains and has a robust food service revenue stream, (3) As a former ED of animal rescue, I understand who does the real work of animal rescue and support those organizations directly and weekly, and (4) I don’t rely just on my mission – my coffee is fantastic, fair-trade and organic.
With respect to the animal welfare mission, I really do not want to say I give x% of profits or sales or whatever metric because this does not feel authentic to me. We did that for a bit while I tried to figure out a giveback that felt authentic and right. Ultimately, we came up with a model whereby we host weekly weeklong online fundraisers for a specific animal rescue or sanctuary and donate $2.50 for every item sold on the website during that week to that specific rescue/sanctuary.
We do this because, as a former executive director of animal rescue, I understand that the real work of animal rescue – getting animals out of horrible conditions and giving them a reprieve from abuse and a guarantee of a good life – is being done by the 15,000 small, financially strapped, largely volunteer groups dotting the US. And, I know that, whatever the donation size as a result of the fundraiser, the money will have an immediate impact on these hero organizations!
In addition to being an animal lover, I am also a coffee lover, and thought: “What if something we consume with caffeinated vigor could be tied to true animal rescue?” Over 30 million bags of coffee are purchased each year in the US alone. Imagine a world where you can have your cup of organic, rich coffee, and drink in the satisfaction of helping animals too. Help us rescue all animals by switching your coffee today!
What makes you happy?
100% what makes me happy is my animal welfare mission, donating to animal rescues/sanctuaries, getting to know all of these amazing organizations and the work they do, and learning of the impact our donations have! For example, this summer we supported Tiny N Tall’s rescue, and in getting to know this amazing group I learned something new (that I should have known!). Did you know that large breed dogs do not do well in shelters?
They are super sensitive creatures that deeply feel loss and abandonment and deteriorate rapidly in a shelter environment. In fact, most shelters don’t even take large breeds! That is where Tiny N Tall comes in. I love that. We also did a fundraiser for Steampunk Farms and our donation helped the sanctuary build a critical shade structure for their pig residents.
Love this too! These are just 2 examples of why what we do at Hugo Coffee makes me so happy. I am an animal lover through and through and have always been. Helping our fellow sentient beings brings me joy every day.
- $15.99 per 12 oz bag online
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://hugo.coffee
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehugocoffee/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehugocoffee
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/thehugocoffee
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwVVlbey6JpmfE5m3YH7vyg