Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Hello and welcome to our brand new website! It has been a crazy 6 months, and we want to share with you what we've been doing. God's provision throughout this process has been an incredible reminder of his goodness. No matter how you found us, we hope that our story is as inspiring to you as it continues to be for us.
Ruby Coffee + Co. was founded by two Messiah University students I, Rachel Beatty, a Business Administration major, and Rachel Ferrence (yes, we're both Rachel!), a Social Work major. After meeting our freshman year and taking a human rights class together we bonded over our shared passions for social justice work and shared a childhood dream of opening a coffee shop! These two things are what brought us together to start Ruby Coffee + Co. three years later.
In November 2021, sitting with our friends in a small Thai restaurant, I asked Rachel F. what she thought about a coffee shop that could employ survivors of sex trafficking because I was thinking about competing in Messiah's Impact Venture Challenge. Every year, Messiah's business department hosts a Shark Tank-like competition for student-created businesses with a mission. Teams get to connect with local businesspeople in industries related to their proposed businesses to build a full business plan and potentially launch their business. The top five teams give a pitch to a panel of local entrepreneurs at a broadcasted finale, and the top three winners receive monetary awards. I had been sitting on the idea for this coffee shop for a while, and IVC seemed like the perfect way to see if the idea would be viable. The coffee shop still felt like a dream for some time way in the future when I mentioned it to Rachel F., but after I brought it up, neither of us could let it go.
By the spring semester, we were committed. However, with the daunting task of building a business in front of us, we weren't quite sure where to start. We knew that the goal of the coffee shop was to offer employment opportunities to survivors of sex trafficking, so we decided to start by talking to the experts. Through one of my professors, I had heard about the work of a local non-profit organization called Peace Promise. Peace Promise works to build relationships with and offer holistic care for women in vulnerable positions within the commercial sex industry. After researching their work, Rachel F. and I sent out an email to Peace Promise to talk with them about our idea. We wanted to know if the coffee shop would be something helpful, and how we could best execute a plan to maximize our impact.
Two weeks later, we had a meeting that would change everything and confirm for us that God was already at work in this project. Rachel and I went into the conversation with Peace Promise without expectations. We were just hoping to hear some outside perspectives on our idea from people who had experience working with the population. However, God had bigger plans (as he usually does!). The two of us sat down and gave a brief overview of our idea, and then we heard the story of Peace Promise. Rachel and I immediately fell in love with their work. Just from hearing the details of what Peace Promise does, we both knew that we wanted to work with them in some capacity. But before we could even ask about working with them for the competition, they told us that they had been praying for someone to help with a business plan for a coffee shop to employ the ladies in their care AND that our email came right as the board was talking about expanding the industry/economic empowerment opportunity side of the non-profit. They invited us to tour a property they were looking at for the specific purpose of industry the very next day. If that impeccable timing wasn't enough evidence of God's hand, the board members told us that (despite knowing us for an hour) they had a lot of trust in us. Now let me be clear here, Rachel and I had given them no hard evidence that we were going to follow through on this idea (spoiler alert, we do) and we had only met once! There is really no explanation for this besides the Lord. And the feeling was mutual. We felt an insane sense of peace about working with Peace Promise despite having no formal agreement yet. Rachel and I tried to play it cool about how excited we were, and spent the entire meeting trying to remain professional.
Then we got to work. Fifteen different teams entered into IVC and we all went through round 1 which consisted of a three-page pitch, outlining the plan. Peace Promise agreed to partner with us, at the very least for the competition and hopefully also outside of it. It was around this time that we decided on the name Ruby Coffee + Co., based on Proverbs 3:15. It says about a woman of noble character, "She is more precious than rubies: nothing you desire can compare to her." We wanted to convey to every woman that we work with that they are worth so much more than rubies to us and to the Lord.
We made it through to round two along with ten other teams. We wrote our business plan and realized just how real this dream was becoming. Our partnership with Peace Promise was growing beyond IVC. We had the same vision and every question or concern that arose, God answered, even down to the smallest detail. What started as a school project quickly evolved into a plan for a real business.
A few days after submitting our plan, Rachel and I found out that we were one of the five teams to move on to the finale! We prepared to give our pitch to an auditorium of our peers, a live broadcast, and a panel of judges. Our Peace Promise friends even came out that night to show their support. To say we were nervous was an understatement! All five teams gave their pitches and... Ruby Coffee + Co. won! Placing in the competition not only offered us $5,000 to get started, but it helped to get Ruby's name out and opened doors to more relationships with organizations and people who believe in the mission.
It is truly by the grace of God that Ruby Coffee + Co. exists. Very soon, we will be able to empower survivors and help fund Peace Promise's mission from our new building in Camp Hill! This is where you come in...
In order to be able to work with our ladies and maximize the impact, we need partners. We have so many opportunities for you to be involved in this project, whether you would like to partner with us financially, help us purchase equipment, volunteer, or keep us in your prayers throughout the process.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. There is so much more to come!