Iasia Montana-Maye Espressate

Iasia Montana-Maye started her coffee cart business, Espréssate, to honor her late father. When he passed, she made a vow to live her life to the fullest, and to share his deep love of coffee with her community. With Espréssate, the Durham, North Carolina, entrepreneur is offering a place – on wheels – where people can gather, share their thoughts with one another, and forge local ties. All while enjoying a warm cup of coffee.

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

We are a mobile coffee cart – not a brick-and-mortar coffee shop – which allows us to serve specialty coffee at all sorts of events.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

Finding the strength and courage to finally resign from my day job, to put everything I’ve got into my business. I no longer define my success according to financial and professional accomplishments. I now define it as living a life that aligns with my values and brings me a sense of fulfillment and contentment.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Before leaving my day job, it was really difficult to balance my career with my business. I addressed it by reminding myself of my “why,” and remembering that my dad never got the chance to retire from work and truly live his own life. And, I addressed it by respectfully resigning and moving full speed ahead with my business.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions? 

Losing my father pushed me to pursue true happiness.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

It’s going to be scary, but go ahead and do it – yes, even if you’re scared!

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I find inspiration on my darkest days, by reflecting on the raw emotion I felt when I was in my dark days of grief – and observing how far I have come. 

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?

“Mood 4Eva” by The Carters. 

Who is your most important role model?

My father. ◼

Instagram: @espressate_rdu

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