Written by: Maureen Devenny
Megan McCusker has been many things–an Ivy League graduate, a teaching fellow in England, an accomplished pianist–and is most recently the founder of Function Coffee Labs, a Philadelphia coffee shop that opened its doors in April 2016. Pinkly Perfect chatted with Megan about how her “hummingbird” personality has helped her in her career, her most stressful moment at the coffee shop, and what advice she’d give to herself in high school.
PP: Thanks for sitting down with us, Megan, and thank you for the coffee! Now, on to the reason we’re all here–what made you decide to start your own business?
Megan: Well, I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business – the hardest part was deciding what kind it would be! When my fiancé, Ross, and I met we shared a common interest frequenting independent local coffee shops, and we joked about opening a coffee shop. After living together in England and traveling all over Europe to find the best coffee, we decided we could open our own place using the knowledge we’d picked up. The a-ha moment came when Ross decided he didn’t want to teach anymore and my visa couldn’t be renewed in the UK. We thought, why not start a new adventure back home!
PP: Wow, what a great story! What do you enjoy about running the coffee shop? What is difficult?
Megan: The most enjoyable part is also the most difficult: I’m responsible for everything! I love being able to make my own schedule, implement my ideas and make decisions. Sometimes the amount of work to be done is overwhelming! But I wouldn’t change it for the world. When we opened our doors, I was overwhelmed by support from friends and family.
PP: Opening a coffee shop sounds like a daunting task. What’s the best piece of advice you received about the business?
Megan: When I was an undergrad I took a course at Columbia Business School that taught me to make a business plan. Ross and I created a 17-page business plan that outlined our mission, focus, business model, marketing strategy, startup costs and financial projections. We left no stone unturned. This allowed us to stay true to our goal when making every decision and not get carried away with details that weren’t crucial to our business.
PP: What advice would you give to our readers as they think about their careers?
Megan: I would tell them not to be hard on themselves for not knowing what to be when they grow up. It’s okay to have many interests and explore them. My path wasn’t a straight line and I love that because my perspective is broader. Watch this video of Elizabeth Gilbert describing the two types of people in the world: those that are driven towards one passion and those that live more like hummingbirds, landing on multiple interests and spreading what they’ve learned to wherever they go in the future.
PP: A hummingbird, what a nice analogy. What do you think high school-aged Megan would think about what you’re doing now?
Megan: On one hand, I’d be surprised that I made such a big commitment to one thing since I have so many interests. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be all that surprised because I’ve always set big goals for myself!
PP: What have you learned about yourself from this process?
Megan: I’ve learned I can handle an overwhelming amount of work, stay focused, meet deadlines and reach any goal I set. I am a boss!
PP: Speaking of being a boss, can you tell us a story from a crazy day at the coffee shop?
Megan: One morning around 8am our grinder broke. It was so embarrassing because it made a loud noise that scared our guests and we couldn’t make coffee for people. We’re a coffee shop – how can we not have coffee?! Luckily, Ross fixed it in under 10 minutes!
PP: Whew, way to go Ross. Looks like the shop is getting busy so one last question: What’s your favorite shore memory?
Megan: After graduating from high school, 12 friends rented a house in Ocean City for the summer. It was a blast and I will never forget it! Now, my favorite memories are sitting on the porch at my grandparents’ house in North Wildwood.
Visit Function Coffee Labs at 10th and Carpenter in South Philly.
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The Girl Boss series celebrates women business owners who are making their dreams happen.