We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie & Justin Snyder and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Katie & Justin, how do you think about risk?
Our entire foundation as a couple has been built on giant leaps of faith. Risk taking is ultimately taking a bet on yourself – as an individual and as a team – knowing that you have the strength in each other to make anything possible. When one starts sinking, the other saves. It’s a collective success. So although many risks have been taken, the blunt force terror of risk feels manageable with trust in one another.

In 2015, Justin’s background in cultivation landed him a job in cannabis, which at the time seemed like a brand new industry. The two of us picked up and left our home in Ohio when we were 24 to move to Colorado. Katie, a trained painter & freelance artist, started her career as a high school art teacher in the fall that year. Like many stories, COVID was a turning point in both our careers. Justin started working for himself, and Katie was crushed by the impacts the pandemic had on her art and classroom.

In the fall of 2020, we tripped on this opportunity to buy our local coffee shop in Manitou Springs and immediately sprung into action, without having a single clue what we were doing. We had money saved and I think subconsciously were just waiting for a way out of our current careers that had become somewhat soul-crushing. So we catapulted ourselves into the service industry as coffee shop owners, with no experience, in the middle of a pandemic. We’ve been in a furious caffeinated orbit around The Loft Espresso ever since. I think ‘risk-taking’ in this story is evident, but what matters most is that we did it in chasing happiness

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What we value as a small business stems from our unique location in Manitou Springs – a tiny mountain town at the foothills of Pikes Peak that attracts seasonal tourism, but also has a strong local presence of creatives. Coffee is the nature of our business, but it is the space that allows us to support a creative community that we love, on and off season. Katie hosts monthly art-making hangouts and provides art materials to encourage daily doodling. On our walls, you will find the work of local artists, bold murals with secret hidden images (if you can find them!), show posters & an array of subtle nods to our love of Phish. We prioritize locals by partnering with local vendors and welcoming the weird & artistic nature of our town.
One of our biggest challenges was learning how to work so closely alongside each other. Once we figured out that bossing each other around didn’t turn out too well, we settled into our strengths and trusted the work and ideas of each other. Its the greatest compromise and is still uncomfortable at times, but we are getting better each day. It’s made us an even stronger team.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Whenever we have friends and family in town food plays a big role in our entertainment. We’ll start with happy hour at IV by Brother Luck for half priced appetizers. For dinner, we love to take people to Paravachini’s for some pasta and wine. A night cap to end the evening is going to be at The Royal Tavern for a beer, a few games of pool and banter with the locals. Attractions in the area are just as easily decided. A morning drive to the top of Pikes Peak is entertaining for all. Afternoon hikes through Garden of the Gods, and if we feel like making a drive out of town, then we’ll head down to Bishops Castle to see what the ol’nutjob seems to be working on.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In regards to the Loft, we would like to thank the previous owner of our shop, Bella McElroy, for sharing her business knowledge and barista badassery. She has been a huge asset as she has joined our team as a barista. We would also like to thank our local community of Manitou Springs for their kindness, friendship and encouragement as we navigated this new venture in our first year of business. Finally, to our families for being accepting, and later supportive, of breaking traditional career patterns and giving encouragement to do what’s best for us. They are rooting for us from Ohio!

Instagram: @theloft_manitou – https://www.instagram.com/theloft_manitou/

Facebook: The Loft Espresso – https://www.facebook.com/TheLoftEspresso/

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