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Creating Community with Coffee

Photos courtesy of Paolo Sanedrin (@ayepaolo)

While perusing through Instagram one morning, I stumbled across one particular account that peaked my interests, “Babes with Coffee”. Considering my dire need for caffeinated beverages, I scrolled through and instantly fell in love with its theme. The community aspect surrounding this Instagram page instantly made me feel as if I was in the presence of a whole network of individuals who shared the same interest as me: coffee.

It may seem somewhat insignificant on the outside. It’s just a cup of coffee, right?

And, yes, it is just a cup of coffee. But, that cup of coffee has grown into another cup of coffee from one girl in New York to another in California.

It has travelled miles and has connected thousands.

It seems as if many have expressed a love for coffee on social media, but “Babes with Coffee” (@babeswithcoffee) has managed to turn it into a whole community.

Free to Dream had the amazing opportunity to talk to Michelle Hadley, the “Chief Executive Babe” about bringing this idea to fruition.

What is the main purpose of Babes with Coffee?

Jackie Clark, my Chief Social Babe, and I officially founded Babes with Coffee in February 2017 as a lifestyle eCommerce that is reclaiming what it means to be a babe (with coffee, of course). To us, the quintessential "Coffee Babe" cares deeply about her fellow womankind and is so much more than her looks—she is strong, intelligent, raw, open, and real. Through our content, products, and community, we empower babes to be a force for positive change and to improve how women view themselves in today’s world. We inspire, connect, and entertain real babes who seek meaningful connections over coffee, and we encourage babes to find joy and healing in everything from their daily cup of joe to a beautiful sunset.

What do you hope to achieve?

NPR did a great feature on “How Coffee Influenced the Course of History.” Coffee hit the European market in the 1650s, and coffeehouses became a place to exchange ideas as much as to enjoy a good cup of joe. Parisian coffeehouses sprung up in the 1670s, and in 1789, Café de Procope played a major role in the French Revolution as a meeting place for debate and ideas.

This is all to say that coffee is often at the nexus of cultural change—whether positive or negative—and is central to so many people’s lives. Coffee has the power to lift us up when we’re downtrodden and exhausted, bring us together, and provide comfort and warmth when we need it most.

At Babes, we want to harness this power for good and build communities of women around coffee through positivity and inclusiveness. We want to create a world where women are respected and valued for more than their looks and where domestic violence, rape, body image disorders, pay inequality, and all forms of female oppression don’t exist. As part of this, we donate 5% of our proceeds to domestic violence shelters (Laura’s House of OC) and to help women with eating disorders (Project Heal).

How has social media helped your cause?

Babes with Coffee is unique in that it started as an Instagram handle before it was even a real eCommerce company. We’ve branched out to Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, but we built our community on Instagram and it remains the core of our business. We use it to grow our following, launch new products, support and drive traffic to our eCommerce site, and build women up, which is ultimately our goal. While Pinterest is also a great venue for driving site traffic, it doesn’t facilitate the same level of community engagement and interaction that Instagram does. Plus, we love the opportunity to counterbalance negative views of women in a very social, vocal space. And we’re finding that women love it!

Tell us about your personal journey in social media marketing! How did you get involved with Babes with Coffee?

The idea for Babes with Coffee came from an energetic kitchen brainstorming session (over what else but coffee) when Jackie I lived together during our time at Chapman University. Jackie was an undergraduate student studying journalism and battling an eating disorder and I was a very traumatized and overwhelmed MBA student who had just lost everything in an abusive relationship and was working full-time. We completely bonded over our shared passion for coffee and dreamt of a company that would build women up through these shared connections. At the time, we were thinking of selling coffee, but that industry is not an easy one to enter.

Fast forward to April 2016 when Jackie launched the Instagram handle @babeswithcoffee and garnered a cult-following with coffee-loving babes—we receive multiple submissions daily and run almost exclusively on user-generated content.

We have finally reached a stage in our growth where we can host collaborations with like-minded Babes and use micro-influencers to further grow our brand. This is especially important because we have been strict about keeping our feed community-focused and have avoided featuring products. Instead, we use stories and our network to push our message.

How has your community grown through social media? What things are you proud about in terms of your community and the positivity within it?

Jackie has this amazing knack for building organic communities and dedicated a lot of time in the early months of babes engaging with our community to build our following.

What I love is that she is so naturally warm and caring, and this shows in how she interacts with and supports other women. She creates a space where women feel safe because there is no judgment, only love and acceptance.

We’re so proud of the fact that we grew our Instagram presence organically, and we believe it was the right decision. Our community is loyal and supportive, and we get tons of engagement and interaction.

Visit them at!

Also, purchase their super cute line of coffee related products here!


About the Author

Justine Bautista is a student at Chapman University. She is a double major in Psychology and Integrated Educational Studies and plans to pursue a career in Developmental Research. Justine is a writer for Free to Dream Magazine and also serves as manager/editor for their blog. Outside of Free to Dream, she works as an SBA for Kaplan Test Prep and helps students in planning their pursuit of a graduate degree. She also works with social media brands and small businesses (ex. Pacific Swimwear and Impact Juice Bar). Justine is an avid neuroscience and coffee enthusiast. She loves books, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and dancing around while singing her favorite song, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” by Iron and Wine :)

insta: @esor.j

twitter: @nochilljustine

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