Launch Process creates space for Memphis makers and local coffee

Launch Process Coffee — a coffee shop, roaster and boutique retail location located at 584 Tillman Street — is aptly named.

In addition to providing a cup of coffee and quick bite, the space serves as a launching place for local entrepreneurs to build their brands without taking on the mountain of risk associated with opening a brick and mortar location by themselves. Its small retail boutique offers body products, jewelry and accessories, cleaning supplies, teas and more made by local makers and a few national artists who fit Launch Process’ unique look and feel.

Launch Process also hosts monthly pop-up kitchens led by Round Table Food, which feature a different culture’s unique cuisine each month.

“I think that’s the best way to do it when you’re operating super ground-level, DIY like this,” said Myers. “Just get as many people involved as possible who are going after the same thing you are.”

“We started out to have sort of a collective, a place for Memphis makers to sell their things,” said Carla Worth, a local entrepreneur who partnered with Myers in October 2018 to create and curate the retail space.

Opened in May 2018 by founder Jimi Myers, Launch Process is a cozy shop with a handful of small tables and booths in its main serving and seating area. The decor is simple and homey with nods to space exploration, old sci-fi and horror movies and the paranormal.

The shop has a full range of coffee and espresso options, light snacks and bags of Launch Process’ beans, which Myers roasts in Oxford, Miss.

Two of Worth’s brands — Aunt Key’s Holy Grail all-natural cleaning sprays and Illuminati Body bath and body products — were the boutique’s first products. Worth also co-owns The OAM Network podcasting company with her husband, Gil Worth, and Aunt Key’s Apothecary all-natural cleaning company. Eventually, she wants to spin off Illuminati Body products into a standalone store.

“[Myers and I] talked in depth for hours and hours and hours about the struggles of owning a small business. He was starting out, and I wanted to have a retail shop, but I was nervous to just jump into something on my own … The idea was that our businesses could help each other until they were big enough to go out on their own.”

Memphian Lisa Wheeler sells her LATHA bath and body products at Launch Process.

“I make soaps, bath balms, sugar scrubs, body butters and they’re all inspired by mixology,” she said 

Many of her top products resemble glasses of sweet tea, mimosas or frozen margaritas and  other are scented or named for popular mixed drinks.

The retail shop features local makers alongside a few national makers who fit the store's unique aesthetic. LATHA products can be seen at the bottom right of the photo. (Cole Bradley)
Unlike Worth, Wheeler doesn’t want her own brick and mortar store. She said that selling her products online is less risky and brings higher profit margins, but she does value having shops like Launch Process, which bring local customers and exposure to new markets.

Wheeler also sells LATHA at Paper and Clay and The CMPLX, a gallery, event, retail and co-working space run by a collective of local Black artists. Wheeler curates The CMPLX’s Corner Store retail space.

“It features all local Black makers that make extraordinary wears, apparel and other things. Jewelry as well,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler said that collective retail spaces like The CMPLX and Launch Process are critical for makers from a community-building perspective.

“It allows people to be seen,” she said. “It just builds a stronger bond in the makers and artist community.”

Launch Process is itself a fledgling business and Myers’ first entrepreneurial endeavor. As the shop’s first anniversary approaches, Myers is looking for investors to expand and possibly relocate the business.

Currently, the Hi-Tone sells Launch Process iced coffee in bottles, Railgarten serves the cold brew and Bounty on Broad sells its coffee on drip.

Customers sit in the garage-style side of Launch Process. The bay features a large door that rolls up on nice weather days. (Cole Bradley)
While Myers does feel like the Broad Avenue Arts District is growing, his location is tucked away and doesn’t get as much visibility and foot traffic as the heart of the district just a few blocks away. He does see potential to relocate his roasting operations from Oxford to the Binghampton location. He may then keep the storefront to support that roasting operation but expand retail efforts to a second shop that has better visibility.

“Launch Process is really first and foremost a coffee roaster,” said Myers. “Having this space is really just to get awareness out of the coffee and provide a representation of the vibes and ideals of the company.”

Myers has been roasting Launch Process coffee since June 2017. He describes the brand as light roasts and high quality beans typically from a single source to ensure a distinct flavor profile. Popular sellers include a Kenyan roast with notes of stone fruit and tobacco and his Guatemalan roast with its chocolatey flavor profile.

“The coffee, the way that I roast it, the way that I serve it, I hold to a pretty high standard, but I try to give it a real old-school coffee shop vibe,” he said. “It’s happening … slowly, but it’s happening. It’s still here and that’s thanks to the people coming in and buying coffee. If you come in and buy a cup of coffee, it helps my day.”
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Cole Bradley is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis. Cole's worked locally as a researcher and community engagement strategist and began contributing to High Ground in Jan 2017.