COFFEE & COTTON
At first glance, the mills and warehouses of Lowell, MA appear as only monuments to the city’s past as the capital for American textile production. While the cloth and cotton may be gone, a new, vibrant and powerful dynamic is emerging inside one of Lowell’s oldest buildings. Structures that once produced shirts and sheets now incubate new companies manifesting everything from pottery to music platforms. Small businesses are thriving again in Lowell and the women, youth and immigrants behind them are contributing to the city’s re-birth and flourishing culture.
Take a closer look inside Mill No. 5 and you’ll find Coffee & Cotton, the flag bearer for the changing face of business in Lowell. It’s no secret that growing businesses need a place to share ideas and manifest opportunities. Coffee & Cotton serves that exact purpose. The Pour had a chance to sit down with Addie Provost, the 26 year-old general manager of Coffee & Cotton. Addie reminded us that Coffee and Cotton is the “beating heart and center of Mill No. 5.” It “provides a space for people who want to start businesses that have maybe never started a business before and are looking for a safe space to try it out with very little risk.”
Coffee & Cotton gladly accepts its responsibility as a vital link between the small business ecosystem and the community of Lowell. The cafe leads by example and actively builds diversity in its work force, particularly in the staffing of women. At Coffee & Cotton, women participate directly in the most senior operating positions. As Addie put it, “One of the things I really love about Mill No. 5 is that there are so many women who are leaders here and there aren’t a lot of places where women have the opportunities to be leaders.” Outside the cafe, Coffee & Cotton sponsors community events such as Thread Groove, a collection of vintage clothes and vinyl for sale, Digs, retailers selling tools and gardening themed items for urban growers and its weekly Sunday Markets, which supports local vendors of all types. Coffee & Cotton is a cafe that goes well beyond turning out great coffee. It creates a “home” for the small businesses of Lowell and the local community they are such an integral part of – a place where the city’s economic and cultural complexion is being re-invented. In local venues like Coffee & Cotton we see just how innovative coffee culture can be.