Carlos Paradinha—The Conservatory

carlos paradinha

From Ernest Hemingway to GERTURDE STEIN the great coffee houses of the world have served as intellectual incubators for some of the world's most beloved authors, artists and thinkers.

In modern times we've seen many of the Most sacred aspects of the Cafe be slowly stripped away. KPMG SPark client and co-owner of the Conservatory Carlos Paradinha is here to change All of that.

For those who aren’t familiar, could you describe The Conservatory Seattle…?

A cafe, a center of learning, an artist community. Inspired by the European coffee houses of the 1800’s. We aim to foster a place for artists to learn, share, create and enjoy an espresso.

The Conservatory merges espresso and the art world to allow the general public a peek into how figurative illustration and fine art is honed and developed.

Home to a diverse group of creatives with multi faceted talents and areas of expertise. As a family, our aim is to create an atmosphere for our patrons in ways that are different, imaginative, memorable and entertaining.

Where did the idea come from and what pushed you past the point of “idea” to turning it into a full-fledged coffee shop?

The idea came from one of the partners, Kieran Yanner, who loved the aesthetic of a simpler time where art was king, and those who created it were celebrated for their creations. Both Kieran and I are artists in our own way. Kieran is an established concept and fantasy fiction artist with many published works under his belt. I am a newcomer to the art scene as a photographer. We merged our talents along the way by creating photographic reference for his digital creations. So, at first, The Conservatory was simply an art and photography studio, artist’s salon, and a place to create commercial art pieces. Eventually, after some struggle with the city, and overcoming the lack of plumbing in the location that was over 113 years old, we were able to extend the creative vision into what we have progressed to now, and that’s a art space that also serves the “non artist” by way of locally sourced, delicious coffee beverages and pastries. 

The Conservatory Seattle definitely shares some heritage with the old Parisian cafés where artists, authors, and other intellectuals used to meet. Are there any specific shops that inspired you?... stories?... artists?

There are quite a few artists and shops that have been a bit of an inspiration to the way we set up The Conservatory. Tim Burton comes to mind, as well as Brom, Geiger, Steampunk aesthetics, our love of things antique, and our background in the fantasy fiction world.

the conservatory seattle

What is it about a coffee shop that makes it such an ideal place for creation? How do you try and make The Conservatory Seattle an inviting atmosphere for the arts?

The ritual. It’s definitely the ritual. We all know there’s a Japanese tea ritual - it’s well established and has been performed for centuries. The coffee ritual is less celebrated, but just as well known, established, and has been part of civilized life for those of us who ‘worship’ coffee for its bitter, black, magical properties. There’ definitely something to be said for the way people react to coffee. The cafe has been a great place to sit down, take a few moments to relax at the end (or sometimes as a break in the middle) of the day, and reflect. From those reflective moments, people have come to celebrate that time with others - friends, colleagues, or acquaintances - and from those meetings, great ideas have been launched. We have been polishing The Conservatory to be another gem in the Emerald City’s crown by creating an atmosphere that is not only inviting, but inspirational and cozy. When people are comfortable they feel free to create.

You’ve got a lot of interesting performers and artists—how do you find them? Are you an artist? 

Some are more “interesting” than others, I can assure you :D

As far as finding them, we have friends that are artists and they also have other friends, so our network is pretty broad and diverse. We also go through online forums like Model Mayhem and even Craigslist to find models for our life drawing sessions (Most of those are “open” sessions, which means that they are costumed. “Closed” sessions are nude session, and what is typically thought of when “life drawing” is mentioned). We also have a network of musical friends who also have a network of musical friends, who also know other varied performers, so we can almost literally swing a dead cat and hit an artist.

I don’t consider myself an artist, although I do have a BFA in photography. Quite a bit of my work is online, and all you’d have to do is Google my name to see it. I do have a website out there, as does my business partner, Kieran Yanner - his is much more impressive :)

seattle coffee shop

How has the local community responded to what you’re trying to do?

The local community is in awe -seriously, I have no other way to describe it. They come into the shop and usually look around like a kid finding a previously undiscovered cave, or room, or some other ‘wondrous’ thing. We’ve gotten quite a bit of new return business, and some of our regulars are now bringing friends, family and co-workers in to show them their discovery. As we bring in musicians and other entertainment, we’re just adding to the appeal.

Let’s talk about your coffee. What constitutes a perfect espresso in your opinion?

A perfect espresso?? Wow… What a loaded question!! That completely varies - but you asked *my* opinion, so, okay. In *my* opinion a perfect espresso is rich, smooth, with complex notes of chocolate and fruit. No bitter aftertaste, and a nice, clean finish. We recently went to a cupping in the SODO district of Seattle were we were introduced to a Costa Rican coffee that is part of the Silver Cup competition of coffees that smelled and tasted like blueberries!! We have some really great coffee that’s roasted locally. Very locally. One of the blends we use at the shop is roasted no more than five blocks away, and the other is within a half mile of the shop. To say ‘it’s fresh’ is an understatement. Fresh roasted beans are essential for a great espresso. Beans should be used within a week of roasting, or they go stale and lose flavor. Always check the roasted date when purchasing your own beans, or ask the barista when their beans were roasted - it makes a difference!

conservatory restaurant seattle

It seems like tea has been trending back up again. Do you agree? 

We’ve seen a few more people asking for a ‘tea menu’ from us since we’ve opened the cafe portion of the business. We had some teas available - the standard fare: English Breakfast, Earl Grey (for London Fogs), Peppermint, varied green teas… But now we are trying to ensure we have some locally blended teas for our customers. We’ve found an organic tea blender that is within four blocks of the shop - yes, again, VERY local. They pride themselves on quality and sustainability. That’s impressive, and it’s what we would like to support and promote. We currently have a few of their products, and will be adding more as we go on. 

I know you offer some loose leaf teas—what are some of your more popular offerings? What about Matcha and Yerba Mate (those definitely seem to be gaining more momentum.)

We are trending away from the loose leafs for convenience sake. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve found a local tea shop that blends its own teas and also packages them in convenient pouches. This saves us time, and also a little bit of money. They have loose leaf products as well, but those same products come in pre-packaged form, which is much more pleasing to the eye, less waste for us (since they are all pre-measured), saves time, and is more convenient. Our more popular offering has to be our London Smog. It’s the traditional London Fog with a shot or two of espresso. We also sell quite a bit of jasmine blossom. Very aromatic! We don’t sell Yerba Mate at our shop, but we do have a toasted Brazilian mate that is very, very good. It doesn’t taste as if someone mowed their lawn and brewed it in a tea for you. The Brazilian mate is aromatic, robust, and quite flavorful! We are the only shop in Seattle that serves it, and it makes one heck of an awesome latte...

How’d you come across KPMG Spark and what made you pull the trigger on our services?

I did an extensive search online for companies that would suit our needs, and KPMG Spark fit hand in glove. So far we have not been disappointed with our choice! Thank you for being so approachable and human!


Amanda Kelly—Stash Builder Box

In your 1st month you’ve seen phenomenal success. How did you launch? And (besides your awesome product) what would You attribute your success too? 

I launched using the subscription platform Cratejoy & they have an incredible section of advice, tips, tricks and help for all subscription boxes. I buried myself in articles, audiobooks and their advice on how to get the ball rolling. I started my pre-launch phase in March, opening on April 16th for orders. 

My husband has been an entrepreneur for almost 5 years now, I would say that watching his journey has been so helpful to me in my own life and this new journey. I've gleaned so much from him over the years that he's truly so smart and gives me the best advice.

Did you expect this type of success so early on?

To be honest, I still am blown away at the success we've had in month one! As a box with a cause, we take 20% of all proceeds from every box sale to make quilts for kids. We launched our "Heart Builders" team in March & our team is made up of over 50 volunteers to each play a part in making a quilt. We launched this Heart Builders team before we even launched our box. We far surpassed our sales goal for month one all the while building up our Heart Builders team. It's truly shown me the incredibly generous heart of the quilting community and those wanting to make a difference in the life of a child. In no way did I expect this at all, but I do believe that it's an awesome way to help and so many people have an amazing heart to help.

Example of a Stash Builder Box

Example of a Stash Builder Box

What demographic would you say is most interested in Stash Builder Box? 

It's been interesting to see because it's truly such a variety of demographics. We get the early to mid 30's Moms with young kids who quilt while their kids nap, girls who are in high school, the older women who have hours free in their days to make quilts - even to the men who quilt. I truly believe that sewing is a skill that can cross over into all ages and demographics and we've truly seen such a variety! 

What’s your favorite quilt you’ve ever made?

When I was 15 years old, my Dad was working for LifeFlight and was sadly in a tragic helicopter accident that took his life. My Dad left behind my Mom & us 4 kids that ranged in ages from 17 down to age 3. This past year, my Mom generously gave me a bag of my Dad's old work T-shirts that I ended up turning into a quilt for my older sister for Christmas. It was truly made with blood, sweat and tears. My sister has it hanging up on her wall and it is my favorite and most sentimental quilt thus far. 

A portion of your proceeds go to charity. What types of charities do you work with, and have you been able to see any of the donations carried through yet? If so, what’s that like…

We are a box with a cause and we enjoy working with children's charities to bless kids in need. We actually just did our first quilt donation to an organization called Mission Fiji last week! We rotate charities every 3 months so starting in March, we were making, collecting and finishing quilts and with all the helping hands of our Heart Builders, we completed 15 quilts! It was amazing to see everything come together and to be able to bless the children of Fiji after villages got destroyed from the tropical cyclone this past February. 

We did our Mission Fiji donation & now our current organization is called My Stuff Bags. They provide children entering crisis or foster care with an individual duffle bag full of items to keep, including a blanket of some kind. We are planning on helping them from now until August. It's amazing to see the response for Mission Fiji and I can't wait to see how things go with My Stuff Bags! 

What’s your favorite thing about quilting? 

My favorite thing about quilting is being able to give them away. My life verse is Proverbs 3:27 which says, "Do not withhold good from whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." In my own life, quilting has truly been a way to utilize the talents I've been given, to show kindness and spread love to the best of my ability.

What’s been the biggest challenge in starting your business? 

The biggest challenge with starting this business has been prioritizing my time. With 3 kids to shepherd, raise, and spend time with each daywhen I get some down time I truly have to prioritize. 

It's been a good challenge and a stretching challenge because sometimes I have to check my need to do's vs. my want to do's. I have to make sure what I choose to do is the best use of my time and focus in that moment.

Do you work out of your house or do you have an office space? How has that transition been?

I am blessed to be a stay at home Mom to 3 little girls every day & I work on this out of our house. I work on it when my girls take a nap during the day and after they're down for bed at night. I am thankful for my supportive husband and his help, advice & patience with it. We just shipped out our first months box on May 15th and my whole basement became a packing, shipping, assembly line which was CRAZY. He helped me until 2:30 in the morning for 2 nights in a row even when he had his own stuff to do. He's has his own business yet he was still incredibly helpful. The transition has definitely been a growing experience and challenge in so many ways!

How’d you come across Bookly and what made you pull the trigger?

I actually was referred to Bookly by my husband through a series of connections he had. I pulled the trigger for so many reasons! Being a full time Mom and knowing nothing about QuickBooks, I wanted to work with someone who had experience & would be willing to do it all. Bookly has all the features I'm looking for, the ease in which I can find what I'm looking for & the help when I may need it. It's an amazing company and I'm excited to work with them! 

How do your kids feel about your transition into a “mommypreneur” –have you found it hard to balance the two? Do they like to get involved?

My oldest will be 5 in December and she absolutely Ioves to help. Prior to doing this business, I would always be sewing when the younger 2 babies took naps and she would always be my shadow. She's allowed in my scrap bin and she will "make quilts", cut fabric, draw pictures and make "presents" for her friends. With an entrepreneurial husband who walks the balance of the "business tightrope" so well, he's an amazing example to me of putting family first. We never want to forsake our family for the sake of money because to us that's not what this life is about.



Sven Raphael Schneider—Gentleman's Gazette

Why did you start Gentleman’s Gazette and how did you scale it to where it is today?

My interest in classic men's clothing first appeared at the tender age of 14, and in the following years after I visited craftsmen, tailors, shoemakers. Ironically, my last name is German for tailor.  After graduating from law school in Germany, I came to the U.S. in 2009 to finish my masters of law and got married to my wife and business partner Teresa.  Once I applied for the green card, I had to wait for a work permit, and so I had plenty of time, but no possibility to work. So I started the Gentleman's Gazette as a hobby because I could not find the information I wanted. Also, I had seen other blogs pop up, run by people who I thought knew less than me, and so I had to do it better.

I hated law and knew I would never want to work as a lawyer and since the economy was bad, and I had no network, nobody wanted to hire a foreigner without any work experience at that time. 

Once I got the green card, we already had our first advertiser, and my wife and I decided that it would take us about 5 years to grow the website so we could draw a 6-figure income, and today we have a team of 8 and are growing very strongly.

How’d you become such an expert on the dapper lifestyle?

Books, visits of craftsman and an obsession for detail. When I am interested in something I really dive deep to understand it fully. For example, I was interested in vintage men's fashion illustrations from the 1930's, which floated around in online style forums. I researched and found people who had these magazines in their basement, and they were happy to give them to me. I took the best of these and made them into an ebook Gentlemen of the Golden Age showing men how they can use principles from the 1930's and apply them today so they look stylish, and not dated. Back then people in general had a much better understanding of fit and more discerning taste. For example, gloves were available in 16-20 sizes, today most people don't know there is more than small medium and large.

Why do you think your blog has been so successful and how do you position yourself against big brands like GQ and Esquire?

When I write a guide about a topic, I want it to be substantial, helpful and actionable for our readers. At the same time, I strive to create the best piece of content online about that topic and people appreciate it. I am also very analytical, and online you can analyze everything, and so I learned early on to do more of the things that work and less of the things that don't. 

The Gentleman's Gazette also targets intelligent men who are often frustrated with the fluffy advertorial coverage in the big men's magazines, and therefore we were able to carve out our niche and grow despite the sheer size of the established publishers.

As a startup we’re pretty low key and casual around the office (as are most startups). What do you think of this  t-shirt and jeans trend in the tech startup world?

In the U.S. dress codes have often vanished and most people can wear pretty much anything they want. As a consequence people wear what they feel comfortable in. Now comfort is not some objective measure but rather subjective. At the same time, it is influenced by our surroundings. For example, most Americans feel comfortable on a soft, cushy couch, whereas most Germans would describe American couches as overly soft and uncomfortable. It is very similar with clothes. Many Americans are comfortable wearing jeans, t-shirt and flip flops. That same combination would make a frenchman deeply uncomfortable. 

Comfort aside, people judge other people, all the time, whether consciously or subconsciously. When you meet someone for the first time, you have already judged him after the first second before you even know him. The way a person looks as a huge impact on how someone is perceived, and it's incredible how differently one is treated depending on how one dresses and wearing a t-shirt and jeans are generally not the most flattering way to present yourself. 

Wearing the right clothes can communicate status, wealth, competency, respect, attitude, character... and when you look at clothes that way, the are one of the puzzle pieces of success, especially when it comes to sales. And whether you sell your company, your product or yourself, you always sell. 

Is there still a way to keep this type of dress code “gentlemanly”?


What’s would you consider acceptable attire for a startup interview?

It really depends on the environment and the startup. For example, if it is a startup in the financing industry, a suit may be a good idea, whereas you will likely alienate yourself from the others if you show up in wall street outfit at a young IT company.  

If you apply for a design agency, a bow tie may look great, especially if you know how to tie a bow tie yourself, but in law start-up that might be considered a privilege you have to earn first.

Again, it all depends on what you want to communicate, who you are addressing and the environment you are in.

Because many people ask this question, we put together a 4-part interview series about Job Interviews that will really help.

1. How To Prepare For An Interview

2. What To Wear To An Interview

3. Interview Questions & How To Answer Them

4. Interview Tips & Etiquette

What modern icons do you think best live up to “Gentleman’s Gazette” standards?

It's really difficult to find famous, well-dressed American gentlemen, which becomes evident at the Oscars. I'd say among U.S. celebrities Tom Ford is the exception. He has a great sense of taste and proportion. Even though he has his own clothing line, he had his white tie tailcoat ensemble tailored on Savile Row, because the English style suited him better than the Italian silhouette of his own clothes. 

Of course, you can find many well-dressed gents in the U.S. but they are not well-known icons. 

How’d you come across us and why’d you end up choosing Bookly?

I found you when you at ICON in 2015 when you were still Tax Alli. You guys were wearing shirts that were buttoned up all the way without a tie,  so I knew you must be from Utah. Initially, we signed up for a free trial and we were really impressed about the first conversation with your accountant. He provided more insights than the one we had. Unfortunately, we could not integrate with our bank account and PayPal the integration, and so we cancelled it. 

Since we run an online business, I like dashboards and overviews and bookly seemed to provide a good platform. I abhor accounting and it was the first thing I outsourced. 

Before Bookly, we had a bookkeeper, and a CPA who would file our taxes. I found it intriguing that you offered an all-in-one solution because when things go wrong, I know who I can talk to: you and there will be no fingerpointing because you do it all for us. 

So I reached out to you again, and it turned out you had improved your system and now allowed integrations for our bank account and PayPal. We signed up again, and we had ongoing issues with the PayPal integration. It turned out it was PayPal's fault but Dee and Jordan really tried to solve the issue. Eventually, I figured out what the issue was and now we are up and running, but I have always found that great customer service shines when things go wrong, and I feel very confident that you will show the same degree of dedication and interest when something goes wrong in the future. 

Paired with the flat fee, Bookly provides a peace of mind for us, and we are glad we switched.

What’s a valuable tip you could give other business owners hoping to make engaging content and blogs that drive traffic?

Make it about the reader.

Good content is reader-centric, so when you write always ask yourself:" What's in it for them?" "Do they understand what I am talking about, do they care?" Make it about them, and their benefit not your product or your company because frankly they don't care about you unless you give them something they want or need. 

That aside, it pays to analyze what people are searching for, and what their problems are. If you speak to your customers or do a survey you can get a much better idea of what their real problem is and you can help them solve it.

Once you do that, your content will be shared, because it's worth sharing, unlike most corporate blog posts who are just self promoting.

Last but not least: be real. Show them you are a person, and why you do what you do and skip the bullshit. Most company about pages just say:" We were founded because we have a passion for xyz, and it is our goal to provide the best customer service and greatest xyz." That's fluff, and people can see it right through it. 

Instead write for people and their problems.

Kelly Ryan—San Juan Huts

CEO of San Juan Huts Kelly Ryan and her father Joe

CEO of San Juan Huts Kelly Ryan and her father Joe

Located in Colorado, San Juan Huts is a trans-generational business that offers "hut-to-hut" backcountry tours in some of the most remote spots in along the Rocky Mountains. Their network of singletrack trails and routes is dotted with 16 isolated huts that makes for more enjoyable adventures. They also happen to be one of our favorite clients. 

Their site description reads, "We empower groups & individuals to travel lightweight, enjoy new landscapes and comfortably retreat to wild places. – An experience of a lifetime! If you are into the outdoors, you have got to get your arse to the San Juan Mountains!"

We had the fortune of interviewing Kelly about the business, her relationship with Bookly, and some of her favorite adventures. Here's what we found out:

How did you hear about Bookly?

I found it while looking online for Accountants that where compatible with Xero.

What made you pull the trigger on our services?

The friendly services, predictable monthly payments, and compatibility with Xero.

Have you noticed any differences in your business since using our service?

We have had an increase in business. I would say the most notable difference though is our ability to now use an online reservation system. We live in a small town and our local options were limited. Finding Bookly was an important step for us in modernizing our reservation and accounting system. This allows us to spend more time talking with our clients about our products and make sure they have a great experience with us and less time taking and entering reservations.

Hut to Hut Mountain Biking

What was the impetus behind the creation of “San Juan Huts”?

My father, Joe Ryan, wanted to create an A to B backcountry ski route in rugged mountains. It has grown to include two additional A to B mountain bike routes as well as a hiking route. We wanted to create a means for backcountry travelers to plan a once in a lifetime adventure and have the fulfillment of doing it all self guided.

In an earlier conversation you mentioned that the company was originally started by your dad Joe. What’s it like running a trans-generational business? Are there any added challenges or pressure?

It is unlike any job I have previously held. We definitely have more investment in the success of the company and the quality of our services. I think it has been a growing experience for my dad and I and our relationship continues to evolve. 

One of your strengths as a business is word of mouth marketing. What is it about your product that makes people want to share it with others and how do you encourage clients to talk about your services?

The trips are really unique and often it is one of if not the hardest thing our clients have ever done. Most find it hugely rewarding and memorable. It is also a great shared experience so I think that lends people to talk about it. In 2015 mile of remote riding, you are bound to create a few good stories. Honestly we don't do much to encourage clients to talk about it and it is an area I think we could work on. 

You’ve mentioned that one of the things that makes you stand out most as a brand is the independence your travelers have vs. those who choose guided travel adventures—What made you choose this strategy and what kind of response have you received from clients and those in the outdoor community?

My father and I both guided professionally for many years before starting or working in our business. I think when we compared the adventures we were guiding with those we were doing on our own time, there was an authenticity of the unknown that we wanted to be able to share with our clients. We wanted them to be able to discover for themselves, rely on themselves, and shape their own memories. 

san juan huts colorado

Has there ever been an trip you couldn’t make happen that you’d like to—“the one that got away”?

Hmmm.... I have had some great trips from solo horse trips in Argentina, to climbing trips via sea kayak in greenland, to most recently bike-packing across Nepal. Of course there are endless adventures to scheme up. As far as the hut trips go, I think our next trip might be a road bike option. 

San Juan Huts offers a lot of different adventures, do you have a personal favorite?

I would have to say the Durango to Moab mountain bike trip probably takes the cake. Although the ski huts provide so much terrain that I am still exploring they would be a very close second. 

Do you have any last words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

It is worth putting time in to get your systems down to make the paper pushing aspects of your business as efficient as possible. Otherwise as you grow, it will sap all your time. Some great advice I received and am constantly trying to live by is to take time to work on your business not just in your business. This is harder done than said, but I think it is sound advice.  


Brady Anderson—Sales Rabbit

sales rabbit

Sales Rabbit is a software platform for face to face sales companies. They are located at the bottom of the Wasatch Mountains in Provo, UT.

Last week we sat down with Brady Anderson, Co-Founder of Sales Rabbit and one of our most innovative clients. We got to know what makes them tick, how they’ve integrated with Bookly, and their keys to startup success.

Why Did you start the company?

I’ve always been fascinated with business. In essence I wanted to combine my passion for technology with my sales background. It’s been a lot of fun.

What was the process like?

It was the classic "friends in a garage" type story. I was talking with a buddy from the BYU engineering department when we decided to start a company. From there it was just a matter of combining my business skill set with his programming acumen. It started as a consulting business but as we began to discover opportunities, it evolved into what it is today.

Were there any obstacles you had to overcome?

When I started the company, I was in school full-time and engaged to be married. As if that wasn’t hard enough, I had to find a way to support myself while growing the company.

What made you choose Bookly?

As a startup without an in-house financial team—we needed to find a professional accounting service that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Remember, we started as a bootstrapped company, we didn’t have funds to throw at traditional accountants who charge hourly fees.

Favorite milestone?

Reaching 6,000 active users on the platform, and facilitating 20 million leads.

Any words of wisdom for other small business owners?

Don’t try and do more than you’re able to. Focus on key items, then nail them down and move on. If you try and be the best at everything, you’ll just be mediocre at everything. Time is a limited resource. Focus time on your areas of expertise, and trust your team to pull their weight.