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Exploring Life & Business with Suzanne Daniels of Brentwood Social House

Today we’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Daniels.

Suzanne, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
As a Connector, my greatest desire is to give others the space, permission, resources, and connections to support them on their journey. Consciously or unconsciously, we all seek connection. We can find that connection at home, at a spiritual house, with family, with friends, with strangers…or at a coffee house. I loved the idea of creating a lovely space to serve coffee and treats to bring others together, foster connection, and support the community. Manifestation: Brentwood Social House!

During the 2002 economic downturn, I moved from Austin to Dallas in search of greater economic promise. After eight years in the graphic design/marketing space, I was ready to leave Dallas and grow roots in Austin with the idea that “someday I will open a coffee house” to serve my community.

I moved back to Austin in 2010 and for the next six years, I worked as a freelance graphic designer, mixing in barista jobs, coffee trainings, and business classes to set myself up for building my own coffee shop when the time was right. In 2015 while walking in my Brentwood neighborhood, I saw the For Lease sign at 1601 W. Koenig Lane and thought, “Hmm, this might be a neat space to create my vision.” Within a year, I was opening the doors of Brentwood Social House, my dream of a physical space to foster connection. I didn’t know how much bigger this dream would grow as the business grew. Brentwood Social House is a lovely space for a cup of coffee but it’s more than that. It’s a place of love to connect people with one another, the community, and themselves.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Our soft opening was election night 2016 and it’s been five years of some of the highest highs and lowest lows. I’ve weathered the business “divorce” of my business partner after the first year, lease negotiations, trials and tribulations of being a commercial business in a residential neighborhood, water boil mandates, freezes, floods…oh, and a global pandemic.

Due to COVID, we had to quickly pivot from a sit-down community space to a completely online takeout operation. Our whole purpose of providing a loving, physical location to bring people together was upended overnight. We closed our dining areas in mid-March 2020 and revised our business model to try to continue to keep the business going and moving forward as best as we could during this time.

After 489 days of online ordering, closed dining areas, reduced hours, reduced staff, modified menus, tons of projects, and general “making the most of the situation” while trying to keep our team and community as safe as we could, we were able to open for counter-service and indoor dining.

It truly does take a village and we are still here serving the community because of the love, encouragement, and championing from our village, including our amazing team, who have continued to stand by and build us back up.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Located in the Brentwood neighborhood in Austin, Texas, Brentwood Social House is a female-owned community cafe that seeks to connect, commune, and nourish.

CONNECT

I opened Brentwood Social House in 2016 because I believe the world needs more places to experience connection and love.

We believe a community space can embody:
• Connectedness with the community, each other and ourselves
• Potential in every human being
• Humanity, compassion, kindness, and understanding for all
• Respect by treating others how we want to be treated
• Equality by seeing ourselves in others
• Equity by listening, hearing, learning, growing, supporting, and advocating for marginalized individuals or groups

COMMUNE

We are committed to supporting our community and living our values. We’re using our standing in the community as a platform to educate (each other and ourselves) and inform around social injustices, show our support as an ally to those who are disenfranchised, and to collaborate with other local businesses and individuals to build strength in our neighborhood.

NOURISH

We fulfill our mission by serving superb coffee and teas, house-made European baked goods, and savory meals to those seeking a quiet spot for meetings, a relaxing cup of coffee with a friend, or fun neighborhood events in a family-friendly, welcoming gathering space.

How do you define success?
As an entrepreneur, success is your business working for you and not you working for your business.

It is recognizing that you may not be the best resource for a project or task and asking, “Who can I find to help me?” instead of “How can I do this myself?”

It is curating your life so that you are spending more time on the things that energize and engage you.

It is giving yourself time for clarity.

It is showing up every day as yourself, unapologetically.

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