Carl interviews local legend and cool coffeehouse owner Tim Jordan in the Tiki Bar. Tim had a big time career in the printing industry for 20+ years, starting out as a copy clerk for a small printer and working his way up to production manager, then working for a big-time printing company and eventually moving up the ladder to VP then CEO. Carl says he has always had a soft spot for printing companies, as he used to be a niche magazine publisher.
In 2004, dissatisfied with corporate life, Tim left the print biz. He wanted to get back to his roots. He took off a year to find his passion. In what he calls “the world’s craziest decision,” Tim became a first-time entrepreneur with his biz partner Jason Griest, working 20 hours a day roasting artisanal coffee, learning to bake, and creating one of the coolest art coffeehouse vibes in the Sacramento region. Today, Old Soul has 4 locations with 3 more in the works, a catering side, wholesale operations, and a thriving online retail biz in 50 states. True to their artisan pledge, Tim adds, “We have a small local business that we’re proud of and we don’t have to work 20+ hours a day anymore.”
Tim grew up in Sacramento and both his parents worked for the State of California. His older brother works for the State too. “My mother was always wondering about what trouble I’d get into,” Tim tells us. “I was precocious, maybe obnoxious?” Carl says he was the same way as a kid. He first wanted to be a baseball player when he grew up and still today is a loyal St. Louis Cardinals fan, like his father. His first job was frying chicken at KFC at age 15. “I thought I’d earned a future in fine dining,” Tim recalls. He began working in printing at age 18 and the rest of his first career is history.
Lucky for Sacramento, Tim and his partner gave Midtown the cool vibe it needed. The neighborhood has become the hub of culture, creativity and vibrancy in the urban core. It wasn’t so easy in the beginning, however. At first, Tim and Jason intended to create a wholesale biz, selling artisan coffee and baked goods to local high-end restaurants. (Never mind that the two didn’t know how to roast coffee and bake but they learned!) They spent a year renovating an old warehouse space and soon the aromas of great coffee and tasty baked goods were wafting out the door. No surprise, people kept dropping by to see what was happening. It got to the point where they had a self-serve station, an “honor jar” for money and some vintage furniture to settle in. Tim says he had been working 7 days a week, crazy long hours, and people kept asking how much they should put into the honor jar. “I was tired and I got mad and just said two dollars! Everything is two dollars!!! (This blogger fondly remembers that time and how chill it was to sip exceptional $2 coffee in the funky vibe of that warehouse. It’s still there, but the pricing is truer now.) Their artisan coffeehouse grew organically into the successful business it is today.
“I’m old and Jason’s the soul. We have a real brotherhood,” Tim says of his business partner of 16 years. “And I’m working less than 40 hours a week now.” He lives on 38 acres of “delta breeze bliss” with his wife of 18 years, Jill Withrow. They are big supporters of the local community, and also have their non-profit literacy foundation, “Sacramento Has Soul” which helps students who have fallen behind in their reading skills. It’s no surprise that Tim is already thinking 4-5 years ahead for his third act, pondering what his next (ad)ventures will be……..
Tim Jordan’s advice on Second Act Entrepreneurship:
“Do something that you really love and that you feel like you're good at.”
“I wished I’d recognized a little earlier on which details to sweat and then start to pro forma ones you can’t sweat so much, so you can find your balance…. (and) you can have a quality of life that is not dictated to you, rather you can dictate it instead.”
It’s essential to find a good fiduciary that is a steward for the company’s finances. It gives you peace of mind and clarity.”
“Know your business, know what’s important, know what to let go.”
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.