Surrounded by a town that lacked economic prosperity, Kateri was no stranger to financial struggle in the city of Lynwood. At the tender age of 12, she found herself selling Omnilife health products to neighbors and other locals alongside her mother. Fueled by the need to make ends meet, Kateri put everything she had into making the most out of a dire situation. Here she discovered that she had the determination and ambition that would enable her to run her own business one day.
With a desire to bring about economic change in her neighborhood, Kateri went on to UC Berkeley to obtain her undergraduate degree in American Studies with an emphasis in Consumerism. She poured over books day in and day out to learn about corporate business structures and came to discover that very few if any, enabled low-income communities to thrive. Frustrated with the lack of opportunity in areas like her hometown, Kateri returned to Los Angeles purposely to start her own business that would ignite positive change. Upon graduation, she was granted the opportunity to work in top accounting firms and the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland. While she gathered the corporate experience she needed to run a business, Kateri believed that there was no need to waste time if she had the privilege of knowing what she wanted to do. Two years after working in corporate, she set out to achieve her goal.
Over a span of six months, she conducted widespread research on different business structures, products and services that were lacking in the Lynwood area and met Jonathan Robles, her current business partner. Together, they launched Collective Avenue Coffee, a worker-owned, coffee pop-up stand in November of 2015. Blending hand-crafted, specialty coffee with community and the arts, Kateri and Jonathan are bridging the gap between inner-city youth and the lack of communal spaces to learn and grow through coffee.
Today, Kateri hopes to inspire inner-city youth to believe in their own potential to affect change in society. “We don’t just want to mentor and tutor kids in our local neighborhoods, we want to inspire them by being actual role models,” she says. She wants individuals to look beyond the scope of creating your own business solely for profit and into creating businesses for the betterment of one’s communities and society at large.