Spartan Lawyer Summer 2018
CULTIVATING COMMUNITY OVER COFFEE
“I want to be a mind-changer. I want people to live, work, and play in Detroit – and do that over a cup of coffee.”
Jevona Watson, ’04, was working as a janitor in the Michigan State University College of Law while pursuing her undergraduate degree in the James Madison College when she told herself that one day she would attend school there.
“Years later, I ended up doing just that,” said Watson. “I was taking night classes while teaching social studies during the day, sure. But I did it.”
While studying in various coffee shops – because the libraries were “too quiet” for her liking – the idea to open a coffee shop came about, although she never previously thought to own her own business.
“I always say that working for someone else is hard, but working for yourself is hard, too. Choose your hard,” said Watson.
As a native Detroiter, Watson decided to open up her own coffee shop, Detroit Sip, in place of an old upholstery store. She noted her education at MSU Law was absolutely “critical” to her success and she uses skills developed in her courses daily.
While Watson has been practicing law for more than 10 years, she said that her alternative career path in small business ownership stemmed from exploring her options.
“Get the experience you need in order to commit to something,” said Watson. “Don’t be afraid to change and evolve.”
Detroit Sip was partially crowdfunded and opened in Watson’s neighborhood in November 2017. Her food and drink products are all locally-sourced: Coffee from Ashe Supply Co. and Germack, as well as baked goods and more from Brooklyn’s Brownies with Love, Dutch Girl Donuts, Greenhouse Soups & Chili, and VDaLish.
“It takes every waking moment to pursue your dream,” said Watson. “I wouldn’t know how to negotiate, understand the nature of contracts, or anything like that without my education from MSU.”
Eventually, Watson sees her shop being a focal point for her community, where people can come together and enjoy each other’s company.