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CLIENT FEATURE: Firas Arafat, Page One Café and Bar

Updated: Jan 1, 2019

What are 3 things you would have told yourself when you first started and were chasing your dream job?

1. There is never a “perfect time” to pursue your dream…if I waited for everything to be ready, I would’ve never done it. 2. Aim high, but manage your expectations! It’s important to have realistic expectations and be very conservative with expected results. If you do your research well and have a buffer, nothing can surprise you. 3. Not having experience is ok as long as you’re willing to learn from others and from your mistakes.

What motivates you to keep learning and growing? How have you maintained perspective and to remain grounded throughout your success?

Success is a big motivator, but so is failure, if you learn from it. Building relationship with people who went through similar experiences is a great way to learn and avoid major mistakes. Also, while I’m a generalist, I surrounded myself with specialists in areas I wasn’t very strong in; for example I focused on hiring staff with a strong skill set, whom are passionate about what they do and want to do it right which compliments my knowledge and helps me run the business better.

Has there been a series of obstacles or a defining moment that has lead you on this journey to what you’re doing now? What was the toughest lesson you’ve learned throughout your journey thus far?

Like many people, I always dreamt of owning my own business and being my own boss. Come to think of it, there was no defining moment, it was more of a lingering call to action!

"I just reached a stage in my life where I felt change was needed and I wanted to work with things that I love, i.e. artisan coffee and craft beers."

A big motivator was my partner Jennifer who shared my vision for a place where people can to hang out, work, and meet a friend over fine coffee or beer. We wanted this place to be inclusive and ensure that we have enough tables and electric plugs everywhere, so people can actually work or study without worrying about how long they stay or spend at Page One. As to toughest lesson; people tell you that running a business is really hard...that’s an understatement. The amount of energy, money and mental and physical stress you’ll experience is no easy feat. Many times we thought we wouldn't make it. The pressure of knowing that many people rely on you could be overwhelming. We had so many sleepless nights wondering how we are we going to meet our obligations to our staff and suppliers. The fear of dropping the ball and letting people who trusted us down was not an option. We learned, however, that being persistent and resilient though challenges are key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

What do you do to channel creativity throughout various areas of your life, work and outside of your business?

I’m a big believer in brain-storming and bouncing ideas with people with different backgrounds. I actually learned that just talking about a problem to a friend or my partner helps me define the problem better and work out solutions. One of my secret “weapons” to de-stress and clear my mind is listening to audio books while going on long walks. I read “Listen” to all kind of books, from business to self-motivation and biographies of inspiring people/leaders but if you look at my digital library, you’ll find that I’m a big fan of sci-fi books.

How has design and working with CL Designs impacted your business?

Design is a critical component of how we represent ourselves to our customers. It allows us to connect and communicate with them in a more creative way. Take for example the graphic design CL Designs did for us; it captured the retro and down-to-earth feel of our café through a sticker for our coffee cups and merchandise! The design features a graphic of an old typewriter with a quote; “Can we start all over again” connecting the reader to our name, Page One where new beginning can take place. The best part about the design, we didn’t have to advertise what we sell and what we do! No mention of great coffee or craft beer! Yet we received very positive feedback from our customers and community and many of them asked to some of those stickers to take home! It has for sure strengthened our brand and brought more awareness to who we are as more people wanted to check the place behind the cool sticker design.

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