Ally Walsh | Apiece Apart Woman
When we first spoke with Ally about her Apiece Apart Woman feature it felt like chatting with an old friend. Ally radiates a sense of warmth and calm and it’s no surprise that the Canyon Coffee aesthetic, her newest venture, exudes the same. Ally was gracious enough to let us into her home and share a little bit about her morning rituals and where she and her partner Casey found the inspiration and idea for Canyon Coffee and its new retail location - opening this summer! Read on to learn more about Ally and how she balances being a mother and a business-woman and her sound advice for women or anyone looking to start their own business.
Photos by Julie Pointer Adams
What inspired you to start Canyon Coffee? What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting your own business?
My partner Casey and I had become increasingly passionate about coffee over the early years of our relationship, to the point that it was impossible to ignore. We were planning entire trips based on coffee shops we wanted to visit. Our friends started viewing us as their go-to resource for all things coffee, from where to get a good cup in, say, Nashville, to how to make better coffee at home. Coffee had definitely become our thing.
The inspiration came from a combination of things. A desire to create something tangible that could capture a feeling we wanted to share (the feeling coffee brought to our mornings); immersion in a community of small businesses in Los Angeles, most founded by women, who demonstrated the possibility of pursuing a passion in business; and the feeling that we could contribute something new that was currently missing from the specialty coffee industry (namely, femininity and warmth).
One thing I wish I had known before starting my business is how much you need to believe in your vision. To create something from scratch and then be able to make a living off it kind of becomes an all-consuming endeavor, that can wear you down at moments. It's really important that you love what you do, or what you're selling. Because it becomes your life!
Your home interior is so tranquil and soothing, how do you incorporate that lifestyle into the Canyon Coffee aesthetic?
I think those elements are ideals we aspire toward. With Canyon, it all started with our packaging. We wanted to create something that captured the simplicity and the specialness of coffee, and to feel refined, but warm. Ultimately, we wanted it to add a little beauty to your kitchen counter and serve as a reminder to be mindful and enjoy your coffee ritual. The same intentions inform the Canyon aesthetic today. We like to push back on the idea that making coffee has to be this rushed caffeine mandate, or an intimidatingly complicated formula. The balance is in your intention — make and enjoy your coffee however you like it. A coffee ritual looks different for everyone, evolving over time and season and experience and place. To us, it all comes back to realizing that a small daily choice can add value to our lives… and that we can add warmth and beauty to every day.
Were there any interior/exterior must-haves for picking your new retail location in Echo Park? We can’t wait for it to open and would love to hear more about the design process!
This location was our dream spot. It’s a corner unit at the heart of Echo Park. We lived up the street and frequented the building it's in for groceries, smoothies and books on a near-daily basis. We had always talked about how amazing it would be to have this location be the home of our first coffee shop. When we heard that the space was becoming available, we decided to go for it. It was a long process! But we got it :)
For the design, our goals were to create a space that felt calm, warm and inviting. Approachable, not too fancy. We took inspiration from the homes of Donald Judd and Georgia O’Keeffe, from Sea Ranch, and from our favorite cafes and coffee shops around the world.
I started with a mood board and Pinterest to bring the vision to life. The space had been a coffee shop in the past, but there was a lot not up to code so we basically had to start from scratch. We wanted to build a new counter, put all of our coffee equipment on the back bar to keep the customer side open and clutter-free, install taps for draft lattes, and incorporate more wood into the space. We’ll have nice benches, tables and chairs for outdoor seating. Picking out those pieces, as well as all the different ceramics and glassware for drinks, has been one of my favorite parts of the process. I can’t wait for it to open this summer!
You own a coffee company, are still modeling, and are also a new mother. How do you find a way to prioritize and balance it all?
Honestly, I don’t! Some days it feels manageable, and some days I don’t know where to begin. It’s all a constant learning process. It really does take a village — prioritizing would not be possible without having great people around me!
We have a great team at Canyon that I am so grateful for; as a growing business, we’re constantly learning and growing there, too! But I love that even on days that don’t personally feel very productive or motivating for me, we’re still accomplishing so much as a team, and I can feel the momentum of everyone doing their thing.
Besides the art of drinking coffee, what rituals do you incorporate into your routine to keep you grounded?
My daily FaceTimes with my family, yoga classes (these days, I just go for at least once a week), and taking long walks in the evening with Sonny. Getting into nature as often as I can, whether it’s a hike in the mountains near my house or a trip to the beach. I had been a pretty diligent meditator for years, but have kind of fallen off that lately. It’s a practice I definitely plan to continue throughout my life, though, because it’s one of the best ways for me to clear my mind.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to other women running their own businesses?
Get really clear with your ultimate goal in starting a business. To start something is fun and appealing. But to build and grow a successful business requires enduring passion and stamina that persist long after that initial sparkle of creation fades. Of course, there’s no rule saying that sparkle has to fade! But the reality is there are a lot of challenges and obstacles, and a lot of tough days. You’ll try many things and put a lot of time into ideas that wind up not working out. How you respond to those difficult moments (do you feel defeated or feel power in what you learned) will go a long way in determining your success.