What gives Moxie its moxie?
Pardon the early typos: I first wrote this out as an overly-long text then decided to write it up more formally.
There are specific things that go into making a business magic, more than a business, a community, a movement, a mission, expressed.
A love letter to Moxie—the most exciting business in the Boulder, Colorado area.
Moxie’s one of the few other-than-Nature reasons I still live here
…in my hometown (I was born at the just-torn-down community hospital by North Boulder Park), along with
Trident, Nude Foods Market, Leaf, Open Studios tour by bike/Nutcracker at Mackey, summer live music with Espresso at Spruce Confections, Phil and Mad Ag, Boulder Book Store, University Bikes.
Moxie, so far, reflects a delightful balance of growth, and integrity and quality.
I’ve covered mindful/eco businesses for 19 years now—including, primarily, the outdoorsy set, and the natural products world—and Moxie’s one of the best. So I thought I’d write up why, partially because of my own curiosity: what makes a business magic? What causes a business to lose or erode that magic? That’s the central question of Small Giants, the best (and only, really) mindful business book I’ve found.
1. Mission—real, not just talk. Probably if not most important, most foundational is Andy, the owner. Not just Andy, but any other ownership. (My personal advice based on advice from others to me, and Small Giants, is if Moxie has investors to focus on buying them out, or they will push growth and superficiality vs. mission). That’s why reading Small Giants (my favorite mindful biz book) is so key.
All the magic that follows flows from mission. And mission, in any business, is held (protected by, or not) by the founder/leader. Andy is that holder of mission, and he’s such an example of it: humor, community, curiosity, little details, appreciation, supporting fellow businesses and community, creating staff culture where folks are genuinely, personally inspired re mission, and themselves empowered to exemplify the joy and power of their community, carry out and further the integrity, have fun, not just clocking in for $—though $ and retention are important and can free founder from burnout especially if expanding.
If Andy can fully empower and retain quality staff he then has option to expand, without burnout, to Denver say or Colorado Springs or Ft. Collins. Otherwise, expansion will burn out and damage core. Success is the surest route to failure, if too speedy or inspired by ego, rather than mission. But expansion can also make money/profits for Moxie, and pay Andy well and help pay all staff well—so balance is key between quality and mission, with just the right amount of expansion added in, like a recipe.
2. Fighting urge to expand. For years I encouraged (begged) Andy to expand to Boulder and while selfishly I wanted Moxie to do so, I admired that he fought the urge, gleefully rejecting my pleas. Growing locally can work (and looks to be working so far, North Boulder and Lyons both hold their own magic in details) if he is able to empower folks and not burn out/cut corners, and together they can keep quality up.
3. Physical and aesthetics. The not-cold-designer-made logo, gorgeous original art posters, the bathrooms with antiques, the live edge tables, the stumps, the Nutcrackers I saw yesterday at their Holiday fair (wood not plastic blowup, say), the hand-carved signs, the antique scale out front, the kids’ play area out back, much more I’m likely forgetting or don’t know about and equal love to the North Boulder and Lyons shops—everything reflects Moxie’s mission and is attractive and eco and fun and community-related (where they got the live edge, perhaps). It’s not boring and safe and easy. Every one of those little words: attractive, mission, eco, fun, community, not boring, not safe, not easy—is important, not just flattery.
Same with the physical locations as hubs: they’re central to a community, and create community themselves. Inviting in community: through having a shop with other quality, hosting fairs like yesterday—good way to really ally Moxie and make some money (shop-wise year round) and opportunities to connect business-wise, directly, or community-wise, indirectly, with other mindful biz revolutionaries like Raquel, Phil, Verity of Nude Foods, Ryan at Junkyard Social Club, me/Elephant, and dozens of others working hard for their own missions.
Same with their instagram account, reservations on their web site, both serve practical functions while telling stories about farmers and bringing wheat back and actually taking controversial, but commonsense stands rooted in Moxie’s mission. That’s too rare. But without some risk, some integrity, mission becomes just about BS-talk at board meetings, PR, looks. Mission that’s hollowed out isn’t attractive, actually, it’s just yuppie, ie, the customer is always right kinda mentality, which customers ironically don’t respect.
4. the “product.” Don’t love that word, but the bread itself is unbelievable. Like, Moxie actually could say “world-famous” and their bread would be worthy of that.
I’m vegan so haven’t had all-the-things but it’s consistent (even quality is often not consistent, and must be guarded lovingly), excellent, a notch above other competition, and I’m sure where “competition” comes close Moxie is happy to work with them, which also reflects their movement/not-just-a-business mentality.
Not only is it quality, it’s gorgeous (the avocado toast with radishes arranged in it, say). The pastries look amazing.
5. Ride the mission-edge forward. I would say for extra points Moxie could get more into the vegan and plastic-free stuff, as plastic is antithetical to all I’ve mentioned above, the cardboard compostable stuff particularly is good (Moxie does some already I think). PLA is better than plastic but not great.
Also accepting folks bringing their own mugs, encouraging eco—many cafes are doing that again, and CDC long ago announced that “touch” wasn’t really a source of Covid, not a thing, all the gloves and plastic packaging not necessary covid wise.
Vegan: Moxie has a few specifically-vegan options but I don’t think they’re up to the bar of the rest of what Moxie makes. More in pastries. Kind Confections (on insta, check ‘em out) locally is doing amazing pastries as good or better than anything that I’ve had vegan. Kind is all organic/compostable and has similar tiger oaky antique aesthetic, but is a small two-person operation so otherwise not comparable. I subscribe to them 6 months of the year, they deliver for now until they get bigger. Their almond and plain croissants are world-class.
Anyways the eco/organic/grassrootsy thing—again details like someone beautifully hand-painted on the compost bin—should be part and parcel of Moxie’s aesthetic and mission, and is already in all other ways.