6th Annual Tulsey Awards

Nominee - justin carpenter

Justin Carpenter


Foolish Things Coffee Company


Tulsa entrepreneurs are unique in the world. How have your endeavor(s) added value to our community and the future of Tulsa?
Place is very important to me. I have always believed that wherever Katie (my wife) and I landed, it was our responsibility to make that place better than it was before. It is for that reason (among others) that we decided to open Foolish Things Coffee Company in the heart of the SoDo District (the area whose boundaries effectively are Denver to Elgin, 7th Street to Highway 75). If you have spent any time at all in SoDo, you will notice it’s primary make up is surface parking lots. By organizing the neighborhood and working with the city, the local property owners, TYPros, and the passionate few local business owners, we are working to develop underutilized property to make one of the last remaining “boring” neighborhoods in the IDL great.

If you aren’t failing, you aren’t succeeding. Share with us some of your failures to better understand how you have taken the lessons learned and applied them to support getting to where you are today.
Ultimately our biggest “failing” or challenge was securing the capital to open the café. We met with an enormous amount of prospective investors in the beginning and the one thing that we kept hearing was what a risk an investment like this would be. Consider this, I (a guy of, at the time 23 with no restaurant ownership experience or established following of any kind) was asking people to invest in one of the most risky industries in business, in a neighborhood with 0 other retail, at a time when the recession was firmly settling in. Ultimately we were able to secure a line of credit from a local bank of all places that had a vision for supporting young entrepreneurs.

Being creative is vital to an entrepreneurial endeavors success. Share an out-of-the-box experience that has made you stronger as an entrepreneur.
Kind of in the same vain as the first question, we recognized that for the café to take the next step in growth, there would have to be other reasons for people to come to our neighborhood than just us. I believe when passion and necessity intersect, some of the coolest things can happen, and that’s what we’re investing in. To name a couple examples we (the SoDo District) won next year’s Street Cred initiative hosted by TYPros. We have also reached out to the Kauffman Foundation out of KC to bring 1 Million Cups to Tulsa and it will be hosted weekly at the cafe. So to boil it down, to build a successful neighborhood, we had to start a successful café; which in turn would draw people to develop the neighborhood. This will hopefully spur on new growth and ultimately further the success of the café. I guess in a way it is the most sustainable and lofty marketing strategy that a business could invest in hence the name foolish things.

Tell us a story that involved you that either at the time or looking back makes you laugh.
Honestly there are too many to count. On a regular basis our staff and/or our customers have us busting out laughing for some silly reason or another. It is a joy to work with our staff and to serve our clientele. Staff pranks are definitely a regular occurrence around here and more times than not our regulars are a part of it.

Buy Tickets

  • Sept. 12th: Tulsey Awards Kickoff - Nominations Open
  • Oct. 6th: Tulseys Nominations Close
  • Oct. 16th: Tulseys Voting Opens
  • Nov. 8th: Tulseys Voting Closes
  • Nov. 21st: Tulsey Awards Ceremony
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