Buffalo Boss Babes Sara Heidinger and Bridget Morris
Today's Buffalo Boss Babe features two awesome boss babes, Sara Heidinger and Bridget Morris and Undergrounds Coffee House & Roastery. Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery. Undergrounds is a coffee house inside of an old funeral home (OMG HOW COOL) in the first ward! When someone told me all about this place I legit said to myself these girls are GENIUS! From amazing coffee to the theme of the coffee house it gives us chills. We chatted with Sara and Bridget about their creepy cool business and much more!
What made you start or brought you to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe.
Sara: I think I always knew at a young age that I wanted to carve my own path in life. I never really liked having to be on someone else’s schedule. With that in mind I started my own photography business in 2007. After working for and 2nd shooting for a bunch of other really great photographers I began to think I was ready to start my own business. I was living in NYC at the time and started booking jobs both there and in Buffalo and eventually decided I wanted to move back home. I moved back to the Old First Ward, the neighborhood where I grew up and was running my business out of my apartment. I took on a business partner whom I still work with today Adam Sauerwein and together we grew our business and were able to move into our first studio. Having a business partner to share some of the work load with left me some time to get involved in the community center where I spent a huge chunk of my childhood . In fact I took my very first photography class there when I was about 9 years old and that changed the course of my entire life. I joined the board and have been very active at the Center ever since. I have been President of the board for about 3 years now and am excited for what the next year brings there. We have a new Executive Director and her energy along with the rest of the staff and Board we have makes me believe that community center will continue to grow and to play a crucial role in the lives of the children in our community and our community as a whole. From my time on the board I met one of my business partners at Undergrounds, Bill Metzger. He shared some of my passion for the community ctr and the neighborhood. We decided the neighborhood was missing a coffee shop. I quickly tapped my good friend Bridget Morris and her 13 years of coffee experience to join the team. We then were able to buy an old funeral home on the corner of South Park and Hamburg Street and
Undergrounds was born. The shop has been open for just a little under 2 years and had been a wild ride. It’s been challenging and rewarding and exhausting and motivating all at the same time. Each partner had different strengths going into the business so it allows us to focus on the parts of the business we are best at. Bridget is our general manager and created both an amazing menu and crafted and incredible staff. In fact our staff is one of my favorite things about the coffee shop. I was able to work on all our marketing and promotion, website, Photography etc. I work in the store as a barista and am one of our roasters as well. It’s been really fun to build something like this with someone you have been friends with for so long. Bridget and I try to have fun with the shop we really love a good pun. If you’ve ever been in, it’s pretty clear by our cream-a-tion station and slogans like start your day before it ends or it’s not life or death it’s just a cup.
Bridget: I think the most exciting and rewarding part of my journey is that I didn’t know for a long time what it was that I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I come from a big family both immediate and extended and that has shaped the person that I am today. From an early age I was taught the importance of family and friends, the value of hard work, the value of a dollar and living as a person with integrity. I won’t sit here and say that I always followed each of those lessons, being the oldest of 5 children I needed to figure myself and my path out. Every decision I’ve made in my life hasn’t always been the right decision, but it’s also what’s gotten me to where I am today. There’s a band that I love, Biffy Clyro, they have a song called Spanish Radio, part of that song says ‘You can be lost at the same time as being found.’ I love and have hung on to those lyrics, that sometimes the part of your life where you feel the most lost is also where you feel the most found. That putting yourself in that space, the most vulnerable of spaces, you find who your supposed to be. I have had a long career in customer service and the restaurant industry, and I have business in the blood on both sides of my family. I spent 12 years of my life climbing the corporate ladder at a well known coffee company, learned an amazing amount, but found myself after all that searching for something more. I took a sabbatical, traveled to Europe and the UK for an extended time and came back to the US ready to take on a new challenge. I had been friends with Sara for a bunch of years before I started traveling, but we had gotten really close right before I left. She was such a rock for me while I was gone, and such a comfort to come back to, so when she asked me to be a part of her business venture, no move had ever felt more natural. Everything we’ve gone through since that day has been life altering, amazing, hard, emotionally drawing and something I had known in my bones I would regret every day for the rest of my life if I hadn’t said yes.
What does being a Buffalo Boss Babe mean to you?
Sara: For me I think it means a few things. It means being part of a really positive community filled with both inspiring and supportive women. I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing women who are entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, designers, carpenters, detectives, bakers and more and continue to meet new inspiring ladies all the time. It’s also a responsibility to add value to my community and help to hold other ladies up and inspire and help them to do the big things they dream of making happen.
Bridget: I think being a Buffalo Boss Babe has great importance, not just for the community of women in business, but for business as a whole. I think that it’s supremely important to give a platform to women everywhere, allowing us to draw from one another. I think it’s equally important to draw upon your community. Small businesses are seeing such great support from local communities right now and there are no limits to the collaborations that can be made to highlight and support other ventures. We are in such an amazing spot right now in Buffalo, where it doesn’t really matter what small business venture you are. Consumers are supporting local, businesses are supporting local and it's amazing to be a part of that! Sara and I have set our mission to be one of inclusion, support, collaboration and forward thinking. As a majority woman owned business we have set a precedent to collaborate with women whenever and wherever we can, we are also extremely supportive of anyone who has a dream to put their individual stamp on this world, so if there’s a way we can do something mutually beneficial for both businesses and engaging for the consumers, we are in!
Who are your favorite people to follow?
Sara: Wendy’s twitter feed is amazing it cracks me up, @nicklecitypretty and @qweencity I love their interviews. @leahminium on instagram she takes these stunning photos with little tiny action figures and animals. It’s better to just see it for yourself then have me describe it, I won’t do it justice. @featuresshoot and @historyphotographed are 2 of my fav photo based Instagram accounts to follow. @tastyyummies and @lonijane are really great for healthy recipes and clean eating. Someone recently introduced me to @dzia on Instagram, large scale artwork.
Bridget :Women in Hollywood that inspire me always have a voice beyond entertainment. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling, Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer.... although I’m obviously a sucker for well timed political commentary! Hillary Clinton...just needs to be on her own here. Locally I’m so pumped to follow @nicklecitypretty Lindsay is amazing, know Jill who owns @nicklecitycheese and Beth Mathews the founder and
amazing part of the leadership team behind @envisionrealestate and a total boss babe!
What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?
Sara: Spending time at the outer harbor and times beach is an almost daily activity for me, Times Beach in particular is such a magical spot. I really enjoy hiking there are so many spots around WNY, last year I fell in love with Hunter’s Creek I’m East Aurora. I love going to see live music there are quite a few amazing venues with great live music every night of the week. There’s usually some really great art openings around town to check out. There’s a bunch of boss babes shaking up the art scene around town lately. I’ve been loving Emily Tucker’s shows with resource art and Rachel Adams has been bringing some really interesting work to UB, and Natalie Brown also at Project 308 gallery to name a few.
Bridget: I have lived in Allentown for more years than any other place in my life! I love that I can walk anywhere I really want to go almost every season of the year!! I love going to museums, galleries, parks and anything that has historical importance. I get that can sound a bit pedestrian, but I love to immerse myself in everything around me and living here doesn’t lessen that drive for me! One of the best parts of opening up our shop has been the opportunity to highlight local artists, something I have a great appreciation for. You can come in any day and see work by Nicole Cherry, Jody Selin, Jen Reid, Sara Heidinger and Erin Morris. I also love the bar and restaurant scene, going out to eat has become a point of pride here in Buffalo. I love that there’s no shortage of choices!
Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?
Sara: I’d really love to create a place that women who are in need of leaving an abusive situation have a safe place to go. So lately I’ve been thinking it would be great to collaborate with someone like Bethany Frankel who is using her powers for good. She started B Strong. I have this dream of collaborating with an organization like hers designing fully furnished apartment complexes with food and clothing that women in need could safely move into and stay to get themselves on their feet and their children as well if they have them.
Bridget: My dream beyond anything I’m doing here is to find a way to make impact in any way shape or form to raise awareness regarding The Democratic Republic of Congo. This country has had significant amounts of strife largely due to being extremely wealthy in minerals and natural resources that are mostly conflict mined and used to make computers, tablets and smart phones, widely exported and utilized in most first world countries. The untapped wealth of this country is in the Trillions. However the political instability, lack of infrastructure and disregard for basic human rights make this this country one of the most volatile to live in. I don’t think that most people are aware of the fact that there are millions of dollars worth of resources coming out of this country, that has not positively effected the DRC’s economy or citizens. That there are only a few companies that require minerals being exported from DRC to be certified conflict free, and even fewer mines that are actually certified. Thinking of how the average American citizen has some sort of equipment that has most likely been manufactured with minerals extracted with conflict from this Nation has me wanting to find a way to raise awareness if nothing else. Despite ever the growing violence there are humanitarian efforts happening in the DRC in an effort to support the hundreds of thousand refugees and citizens. From USAID to WHO and many more, there are organizations committed to providing basic human rights for these people, my dream collaboration would be to figure out a way to take the successes I have had and utilize them to provide aid. It’s something I’m working on!
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world who would it be?
Sara: Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.
Sara: My big dream at the moment is to see the DL&W rail trail project I’m working on come to fruition. I think it will be a smart use of the space, but wouldn’t be so intrusive on the people that already live around it. Another bigger dream would be to bring a grocery store to the Old First Ward. I’d love to create a more walk able community again. My small goals are probably to read more. I haven’t been able to do that as often as I’d like.
Bridget :Small goals include remembering to take the time every day for myself, to pamper myself and strive to present my best self to the world. Some days it happens, some days it doesn’t ! I’m a work in progress! Large goals mostly focus on sustaining our business model and continuing to creatively innovative products and our customer experience. I also dream to be able to say I’ve stepped foot on every continent, traveling, meeting new people, experiencing new things, obtaining life experiences that better me is like breathing. I’m always looking for ways to expand myself and steeping outside of your comfort zone by traveling is high on my list!
Tell us about your family ?
Sara: My immediate family is just me. I like to say my businesses are my babies. I do have a step daughter figure in my life. She is my ex boyfriends daughter who is still very important to me and I feel really fortunate to get to have her around. She’s pretty rad and we have never quite figured out what to call each other, but she’s pretty close to a daughter. I have a nephew and a few close friends children that I think of as nieces and nephews who I adore. My mom is one of 9 and my Dad one of 8 so there is no shortage of extended family floating around.
Bridget : I’m one of 5 Irish children and have a large amount of close extended family. While my immediate family is just me, I have a wealth of friends and relationships cultivated over many years! I feel so fortunate to have the people in my life that have stuck with me through all of the ups and downs. I would not be the woman I am today with out them. I begrudgingly (it’s mutual) have some ownership over my sisters cat. He’s the most beautiful cat you will ever see and is super mean! But through the years and circumstances that have brought us together, we’ve found a way to co-exist. I can now say I would be truly saddened if anything happened to him, which proves to me that anything is possible!
Feel Good Five :)
Food/ Drink: We have a banana chocolate fusion at the coffee shop that I love ! If I’m having a sluggish date I add a shot of espresso for a little extra boost and Pho.
Super Power: To run on no sleep
Animal: A bird, I imagine flying must be pretty rad.
Season of the year: Fall
Favorite thing about Buffalo: The Architecture as a photographer who loves buildings Buffalo is a dream for me visually. And being able to get anywhere in 10-15 minutes. (I’m always overbooked and running behind)
Food/ Drink: I love to have sparkling anything, water, wine, champagne... there’s something innately classy about drinking something that sparkles. I am definitely a foodie, I love dining out and trying new places, I strive to be health conscious but if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be pizza for sure.
Super Power : Solving other peoples problems
Favorite thing about Buffalo: It’s home. I can travel the world and I’m always excited to come back. I think there’s something to finding your place in the world and knowing it’s not for lack of experience in other places. That innate sense of home, for me it’s Buffalo and that makes everything about this city truly magical.
Sara and Bridget are a dynamic duo that made one of the coolest spots in town. Everything from their theme to their decor and so much more is so unique and awesome. Their shop is located at 580 South park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14210 on the corner of South Park St. and Hamburg St. in Buffalo's Old First Ward Neighborhood. Follow them on Instagram @ugcoffee_ofw and find them every where else @ Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery.
Until Next time, Babes!
Buffalo Boss Babes is a woman run blog series featuring women in and around the city of Buffalo N.Y.
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Here's to strong women! May we know them. May we be them