BABE #58: KATHLEEN GREDLER,
Café Leader @ Lucky Goat Coffee
I met Kathleen in college when I worked in tech for FSU's College of Music and we had a ton of mutual friends. She is a full-time graduate student in FSU's Music Therapy program and the full-time cafe manager at Lucky Goat (which happens to be one of my favorite coffee shops of all time, so I'm a little biased. #GoNoles.) I'm grateful I had a chance to interview her and showcase not one but two new Hustles while getting to know such a well-spoken and inspiring Babe. Thanks so much for chatting with me, lady!
How do you spend your free time?
Mostly cuddling with my cat, making dinner with my boyfriend, or practicing guitar. But mostly obsessing over my cat.
Go-to coffee order?
Cold brew black.
Go-to adult beverage?
Michter’s Rye Old Fashioned.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Taco Salad. I guess my mom made it enough when I was a child that it’s my comfort food now.
Favorite social media account to follow?
Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Diane Keaton. I want her to share with me the secret of being so neurotic and relaxed at the same time.
Binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy for the millionth time.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Three years ago during yoga teacher training, I was randomly matched with a roommate named Sigurros from Iceland. She and I went through such an emotionally and physically vigorous experience together and had such a strong bond almost immediately. I haven’t seen her since we graduated and I always promised I would come visit her! So if I could, I would go to Iceland and see her again.
Tell us about your hustle:
I manage a local coffee shop in Tallahassee, FL called Lucky Goat (in our Midtown location.) When I started with the company in November of 2015, there was only one store, and I knew nothing about how a coffee shop worked. Since then, we’ve opened two more shops, and I was promoted to manage one after training to be a bar-back.
What does your typical workday look like?
Almost every workday also begins as a school day. I’ll wake up, practice my music or get extra work done, head to class and then to work. I close the shop on the weekdays, but luckily coffee is not a nighttime affair for most people, so I’m typically done with work around 7 each night. Then I’ll go home and practice guitar or get work done as I can.
What is your background in music like?
I started playing piano at age 3 and started taking opera coachings around age 12. When I auditioned at Florida State for my undergrad, I was accepted as a vocal performance major, but during my sophomore year, I almost dropped music entirely - until I found music therapy.
Can you explain music therapy for those who might not know what it is?
Music therapy is the use of music to achieve therapeutic goals, academic goals, facilitate rehabilitation, promote social interaction, and so much more. Essentially every age group can benefit from music therapy, but some of the most popular are hospice, behavioral health, mental health, and special education facilities. Everything we do is scientifically measurable, and while music therapy is a phenomenological field, we rely on the research and quantifiable data that directly informs us of the benefits of what we do, and how to make it even more impactful.
What draws you to music therapy?
I first discovered music therapy during my sophomore year of college when I was conflicted over choosing a career in science or a career in medicine. What draws me to it is the fact that it allows me to pursue music and be a musician without the focus being on me. In music therapy, the focus is always on the client. Without the pressure of performance, I rekindled my interest in music and am continuously becoming a better musician.
When did you decide to pursue music therapy as a career over performance or teaching?
I started in college as a performance major and very quickly realized I didn’t truly want to be a performer. I made a drastic decision to enroll as a dual degree in music and biology, and in my junior year while balancing both paths, I was more confused and overworked than I imagined I could be. I thought that if I was doing something else outside of music, I would all of the sudden feel relief and clarity - but I felt alienated from everyone else in college who appeared to know exactly what they wanted out of school. I finally landed on music therapy during my senior year.
What are your goals in the field?
I want to work with children, preferably in a children’s hospital. Ideally, once I have my Master's, I’d like to work for a few years before I go back for my Doctorate.
How do you balance full-time grad school with full-time work at Lucky Goat?
I’ve found that using a planner - I kid you not - is the key to success for me. If I only have two hours to get an assignment done and I have planned the day out, it’s not a question - it gets done. But if I leave it up to chance, things are forgotten. And quite honestly, I was very lazy and confused in my undergrad and I would procrastinate too frequently. Almost every presentation I gave, paper I wrote, and test I took felt like it was just good enough. I had all the time in the world to get those things done; to study, to excel, but that was the problem. Now that I’m too busy to procrastinate, I’m motivated to do my best in the limited time I have. It keeps my life full and exciting, and while it's often overwhelming, it has been so beneficial to my growth as a professional.
Did you intend to move up to Lucky Goat management, or did that process just happen naturally?
When I started at Lucky Goat, I was a seasonal hire. I was hired for a trial period of 4-6 weeks to be additional help around the holidays. I only applied because my plan to move away after graduation had failed, and I was just wasting time on my parent’s couch. I had no intention of working in craft coffee, but I enjoyed it and things just progressed naturally. When they asked me to manage the second store, I felt the most unqualified I ever had in a career setting. And to be honest, in the first six months, I made more mistakes than I ever have. I’m used to being good at things on the first try, but this didn’t come naturally to me. But now I’m in the period of time where the struggle has made me stronger and more confident to handle myself when a new crisis comes.
How would you say being a woman has affected your career and professional experience?
Well, most people assume any of my male employees are in charge when they ask to speak to a manager. I’d say 90% of the time when someone realizes that the manager is me, it’s met with a tone of surprise. But in terms of how I’m treated within the company, I feel like I’ve been given every opportunity, regardless of my gender.
Is working in a coffee shop the magical experience we all think it is? :)
Haha, working in a coffee shop is a magical experience! Except that having coffee at your disposal 8 hours a day is not actually a blessing. Every few weeks you have to cut it cold and detox (I’m not kidding) so that you can sleep and it can actually do it’s job when you have it.
What is a standout lesson you've learned at Lucky Goat?
I’m constantly trying to find the balance between how much I help others versus how much I help myself. Ironically, self-care is the most important thing I’ve learned in a management position. It’s my natural inclination to give everything I can and solve everyone’s issues, but that is not the best way to manage and elevate those around me to discover their potential and help themselves. Finding success by allowing people to fail and taking myself out of the equation has helped me relinquish control and accept that while there are many things in my power to change, there are many issues that I’m not the most qualified to handle.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
Managing a group of individuals who are only a few years younger than you comes with it’s own set of complications. I’m constantly trying to balance being a friend and approachable and being a person in a position of authority.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job(s)?
My favorite thing about my job is how many people I get to interact with and connect with on a daily basis. However, that’s also my least favorite part of the job. Having little anonymity in a town where you’ve grown up and stayed in for 24 years is difficult.
What motivates and inspires you?
I’m a very neat and organized person. When I’m feeling stuck on an assignment or in my life, I reorganize my house or go through and clean everything. Coming into a clean space helps me feel focused and inspired to create something.
What helps you wind down/how do you manage stress?
Haha, not well. It takes me quite a good amount of time to teach myself how to relax again. But once I do, I enjoy getting pedicures (the ultimate treat yourself treat), binge watching tv (most recently Doctor Who), taking entirely too many pictures of my cat being adorable, and reorganizing my house. In terms of managing stress, getting back into yoga and having a practice at home helps me get in tune with how I’m doing physically, which is where I process and store most of my stress. While I mostly don’t feel like I’m stressed, its reflected in my body and staying in tune with those changes helps me maintain a healthy balance.
What’s next for you?
Well, sadly I’ll be leaving the coffee world in January. The next step in my Master's program is a full-time internship before graduating. I’m soaking up all the coffee I can before I have to go!
What are your goals for the future?
I want to be in a new city, working as a music therapist in a children’s hospital.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
You’re going to get a lot of advice. You’ll inevitably have people telling you how you can be better at your job, be successful in relationships, make people listen to you, look the way they think you should. They don’t know better than you. They aren’t living your life. You can choose to step away from any and every person who doubts you.
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