Husband and wife team Kyle and Kelly Taylor are the owners and operators of Chrome Yellow Trading Company, a coffee shop/retail store concept located in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward district. Prior to opening up in their permanent location last year, Kyle and Kelly ran various pop up shop events around the city to build interest and awareness in what they were doing - an approach that earned them a strong following and taught them some valuable lessons along the way. Atlanta's an important city for our brand and we're proud to have 3sixteen stocked at a shop that functions as a cultural and social meeting place for so many. We've come to find that personal friends of ours (like Sangsouvanh, who we featured previously in a Style Profiles piece) have become patrons of the shop independent of our recommendation, which says something about how much Atlanta needed a space like Chrome Yellow. We got together with Kyle to chat about their journey and what they're looking forward to.
What’s it been like to open up a retail store and become a father all within 12 months?
Totally overwhelming at times but also unbelievably amazing and rewarding.
It is pretty crazy how much the shop is like having another baby. It’s taken some time to find a new groove, but we couldn’t be happier with where we’re at…..but it was definitely pretty intense there for a bit, haha! We open the coffee shop every morning at 7a so let's just say there hasn't been much sleep going on but there's also been no shortage of coffee.
Did you and your wife have retail experience before deciding to open up Chrome Yellow?
When Kelly was younger she worked at a handful of retail shops, ranging from small batch vintage goods to a high end boutiques. Both of us have a ton of restaurant experience, though. I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was 14 years old working through a lot of different positions: from washing dishes to GM/partner and everything in between. Most of my experience comes from a restaurant and bar called Atkins Park where I started as a server/bartender and worked my way up through management and eventually became a managing partner. Even though I spend most of my time with CY, I am still a partner with Atkins Park and work very closely with management staff and the other owners there.
When Kelly and I first started dating we were always brainstorming on a concept for a small restaurant/bar or coffee shop. Hospitality is in our blood for sure; it’s what we know well. It was a big change for me to move in to the retail world from a high volume restaurant and bar concept - and while I love a lot of aspects about it, we were definitely missing the quicker pace and energy of what a restaurant or bar brings. We were having events on an almost monthly basis at the pop-ups, but a lot of the in-between time would really slow down. When we found the space on Edgewood, it all just clicked. This was what we were looking for, that extra energy and space for really bringing the vision together. We love this neighborhood and saw a very big need for what we wanted to bring to it.
We’ve seen a few retail stores debut via pop up events as a precursor to an eventual brick and mortar location (to varying degrees of success, it seems). In retrospect, what were some of the highlights from this approach? What were some things you wish happened differently?
I think one of the best things about doing a pop-up is that you can try your concept out in a short term lease or even a month to month lease vs a typical 3-5 year. It can be incredibly scary signing a long term lease; you have to put so much on the line. You just can never predict how your idea is going to work in the space and in that part of town, so if you’re able to try it out first for a month or so, in a few different locations that’s huge. From the pop-ups we’ve done, we learned a lot about what our customers are looking for and what part of town they are coming from. It’s so easy to to hear those words in your head “if you build it, they will come,” but that just isn’t the case most of the time. Honestly, as far as the pop-up to permanent question goes, I don’t think we’d change much or maybe nothing at all. We feel very grateful for how everything happened leading in to our permanent shop opening. Every pop-up location was a handful of small mistakes and a huge learning lesson.
Can you talk about how the pop ups helped you guys settle on your location? What did you love about it and what made you feel like it was the right permanent home for CY?
The pop-ups were used to introduce the brand in the first year. By the beginning of the second year we were getting closer to finding our permanent home. Once we became aware that our building was on the market, things moved really fast from there. When Kelly was 18 she used to work across the street from CY at a German repair shop called RWL. After that she got a job across the street (at what is now CY) at a woodworking shop called Welbourne Henson. So it goes without saying that we have a deep connection to this street and this neighborhood.
I’m sure you get this question often - what’s Chrome Yellow?
What are some goals that you have for the upcoming year?
We are really trying to focus on finding balance with running a successful business while also spending quality time together as a family. The fact that my wife and I work together can be an amazing thing because we make a really great team and it means we’re spending more time together but it also can be very hard to turn the work part of our minds off. To be your best you have to wind down and turn off to get refreshed and inspired. Scheduling vacations more regularly and spending more time with family and friends is definitely a personal goal right now.
For Chrome Yellow, we are now focusing on the next phase of the business. We’re getting past the hectic opening phase, where you’re trying to hire your team, create schedules and systems. Now it’s about really running a great business. Asking the hard questions: are our customers happy and returning, if not, - why? Are the numbers making sense? Is there something more we could do? For us to last and continue to grow, we have to make sure we’re analyzing every angle.
What are some local businesses you like to support?
Kelly and I love to eat, so naturally a lot of businesses we support are restaurants. Atlanta's food scene is super good so I could write a list that goes on for days but here's a few places that we've been going to lately. Also a lot of them are in the neighborhood because we spend so much time at the shop.
Noni's Deli for sandwiches, Lottafrutta for smoothies, and Little's Food Store for pretty much anything you can think of - this place rules. Staplehouse and Amazza for dinner in the neighborhood. If we're heading out to dinner on the weekend (which is kinda rare these days with a 6 month old) we head to Eat Me Speak Me in Candler Park.