Q&A with our Retail Team | Equator Coffees
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Q&A with our Retail Team

Women's History Month Feature

We connected with the women of our Retail Team this week — Tina Malouf (Director of Retail), Zoee Alyeshmerni (District Manager), Monica Stahl (District Manager), and Noelle Fagerlund (Quality Assurance & Training Manager) — to talk about the coffee industry, their role models, and what Women’s History Month means to each of them.


Tell us a bit about yourself!

TINA: Hi, I'm Tina Malouf, Director of Retail at Equator Coffees. Coffee is such an incredible industry with the most wonderfully diverse group of employees. I've made lifelong friends, provided a beautiful life for my family, and made so many beautiful memories because of coffee. Coffee will always be a true love.

ZOEE: Hi! I'm Zoee and I'm a District Manager with Equator. I'll never forget the first Sumatran Honey Process chemex that opened my eyes to all that coffee could be. From there, I started working for Cartel Roasting Co out of Arizona while I was going to college for Forensic Pathology. I quickly realized that coffee was way more fun than cadavers and leadership was my calling. I've been in coffee for 10 years and no matter what city I end up in, I find a community I love and cherish. (Although, I would give anything to run an old dog sanctuary...)

MONICA: Hi, I'm Monica Stahl District Manager of Equator Coffee. I appreciate that I work for bold, active woman that care fiercely for their employees and the community it serves. I have a daughter, son and grandchildren that I absolutely adore. My favorite time of year is Spring, a time for renewal. I started my career in grocery retail and transitioned into the amazing world of coffee 15 years ago.

NOELLE: Hi I'm Noelle Fagerlund. I've worked for Equator for 2 years as Quality Assurance & Training Manager. I fell in love with coffee when I discovered single origin coffee and lighter roast profiles that brought out so much nuance. I was fascinated! I also loved the hands-on element to coffee and that if was based in nourishment, pleasure and ritual. I became obsessed with different brew methods at home. My favorite coffee is usually whatever washed single origin we're offering on pour over that month and Equator Blend - always comforting and familiar. Fun fact - I grew up in a home where no one drank coffee, so I didn't taste it until college.


Tina Malouf | Director of Retail | Women's History Month | Equator Coffees

Tina Malouf, Director of Retail for Equator Coffees, crafts and oversees the unique experience at Equator Cafes.



What does it mean to work at a women founded company?

TINA: It means that not only do I have incredible mentors, but I get to lead from a place of building other women up. Being a strong, intelligent, independent, thoughtful woman is both recognized and appreciated.

ZOEE: Working in a female founded company means that I get to come to work every day knowing that I will be respected and heard. Equator is founded and operated by some of the most incredible and hardworking women I have experienced in the retail industry and I continue to be inspired by their dedication and commitment to developing and inspiring any person who comes through that door.

MONICA: I'm encouraged to lead with kindness and empathy.

NOELLE: It not only makes me incredibly proud, but I feel that I'm investing my time and talent in something great. Something bigger and more meaningful than 'just a coffee company'. My efforts are investing in women's initiative, labor and profit.



What is it like being a woman in coffee?

TINA: It's beautiful! I am humbled by the opportunity to encourage other women and people to be the best version of themselves. The coffee community is a community of kind and authentic people. A place where you can be a barista or build a career. It's truly up to each individual to decide what their path will be.

ZOEE: Being a woman in coffee can either be amazing or really difficult depending on what coffee company you work for. I've been lucky enough to find Equator where I am respected and my authentic self is encouraged and celebrated.

MONICA: Coming from a male dominated industry, In coffee, I find that able to reach out and develop other woman to reach their goals. Being able to support women in coffee from all aspects of the coffee chain is something I take pride in as a woman in coffee.

NOELLE: Being a woman in coffee has been positive and supportive for the most part. I've sought out companies and industry media/communities that are intentional about supporting women and ensuring we have input and are in decision making positions. That said, it can feel that the broader community looks past women, or are making a big deal out of singular female contribution.


 Zoee | District Manager | Women's History Month | Equator Coffees

Zoee is a District Manager for Equator Coffees, bringing 10+ years experience in coffee to the team.



What does Women's History Month mean to you?

TINA: I never take for granted the work of those that came before me. Because of the effort and sacrifice of other women, I get to do the work I love, be the mom and human being that I want to be, and live freely.

ZOEE: Women's History Month serves as a reminder to me that no matter how much we have been persecuted or oppressed, we continue to rise above the expectations placed on us. Each accomplishment and contribution of the past will be there to encourage a Womxn of the future.

MONICA: I appreciate the women that came before me that did the work that allowed me to live freely. I never take those freedoms for granted. I'm grateful that I work for a company that recognizes the importance and celebrates it.

NOELLE: Women's History Month angers me a bit. In the same way Black History Month bugs me. It reminds me that our default history is still male, White and Western. I know it's not realistic, but I wish 'normal' history was naturally more diverse and reflective of the world we live in.


Monica Stahl | District Manager | Women's History Month | Equator Coffees

Equator Coffees District Manager Monica Stahl has proudly worked in the coffee industry for over fifteen years. 


Who is a female role model that inspires you?

TINA: My Aunt Debbie. She is a registered nurse, a prosecutor for the State of New York, built her own record label, and is doing college instruction. More than all of the things that she has achieved, she is determined, kind, loving, and tenacious. An incredible example of overcoming any obstacle and being the best version of yourself.

ZOEE: Collectively, the most inspiring female role models to me are all the Womxn in Iran who are standing up against a regime who is set on controlling them. As a Persian woman in the US, my heart calls to them and all the women before us who sacrificed everything to give us this strength and resilience.

MONICA: I have had several female role models in my life. Shelley Schamach is a woman that I've been inspired by for the past 15 years of my coffee career.

NOELLE: A female role model that inspires me would have to be a a handful of amazing female bosses throughout my career. A couple of the women I worked for early in my career in retail. Their understated confidence, kindness, authenticity and clear judgement are qualities I frequently pull from.



What advice would you give to other women looking to build their career in coffee? 


TINA: Don't settle for less than what you deserve. You deserve to have people invested in your growth and development and you deserve a work environment where you can be your authentic self.

ZOEE: My advice to any woman looking to build their career in coffee is to really lean into your strengths and passion. Find your people, find your community, and never settle for leaders who are not as dedicated to your growth as you are!

MONICA: Find other female role models and mentors that can provide you with honest, candid feedback.

NOELLE: The advice I would give other women looking to build their career is, 'you are extremely valuable. Even if you don't feel like you're the smartest person in the room. Don't spend too long in a company that doesn't recognize your value'.


Noelle Fagerlund | Quality Assurance and Training Manager | Women's History Month | Equator Coffees

As Quality Assurance & Training Manager, Noelle Fagerlund works to ensure a consistent beverage experience throughout Equator cafe locations.


What's the best advice you've received? 

TINA: Stay in your lane!

ZOEE: The best advice I've ever received is to stop apologizing for everything.

MONICA: Accept feedback as a gift. Imagine feedback wrapped in beautiful box with a bow, it's what you decide to do with what's inside.

NOELLE: Not sure if it's the best advice I ever received, but I think of it often - sometimes good is good enough. It may be better to deliver something good and fast than belabor 'perfection'.

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