Published May 15, 2017

Interview: Sam James

First things first -- congratulations on the new shop! It’s been a long wait since the closure of your Ossington shop, but more than worth the wait to see you and Stussy reunited.

Thanks!

How has your relationship with Stussy evolved since the first incarnation of the Toronto chapter?

We’ve gotten to the level of dealing with people who work for Stussy headquarters in Los Angeles now, which is great. We collaborated on the design and location of this new store together, so that was a new step. It was important that we worked together to satisfy the vision for both of the stores.

You’re at five shops now. As you grow your business and open new locations, I imagine there is an increase in demand for staff. Having worked for you myself in the past however, I can testify to how strong your community of baristas is. What do you look for when expanding the team?

I like people who already are familiar with the café itself. I hire a lot of people that already are regular visitors or are friends of people who work here currently – in that way they kind of get the cosign. Of course I’m interested in hiring people who have obvious technical ability, but most important is a good and positive personality.

Not only are you regarded as a coffee god in the city, but your memes and general online presence have garnered attention of their own. How has the advent of Instagram and online culture influenced your brand and relationship with the community?

To me, it’s just fun. It’s a way to advertise my business that I enjoy, and has let us reach out to a customer base that understands and relates to the sort of humor and playfulness of SJCB. Also, it’s free – why not take advantage of that?

Beyond engagement in social media, what advice do you have for other city-dwellers hoping to open up a small business?

Put in time working in the industry first. I worked at so many coffee shops in the city before I opened up my own brand, and it helped me learn so much about owning a business before taking that first step myself. A lot of the hard lessons new owners have to learn could easily be avoided by taking that time to really immerse yourself in the industry beforehand.

Last question: any future projects in the works?

We’re going to be reopening the Club Monaco market shack in Yorkville this year. That should be opening in the first week of May, so look out!

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