Most business owners don’t prepare a PowerPoint presentation for their parents as a requirement to start their business.
However, high schooler Dylan Capshaw did just that in order to open Stemistry, his flower shop and coffee bar that debuted this spring.
Capshaw was 15 when he recognized an opportunity to take his thriving online flower shop to the next brick-and-mortar level. Because his parents would be the ones to sign the lease, their approval was vital.
The success of his online blossom shop GardenMisc, which he started at 14, enabled him to demonstrate that he could make his coffee shop dream a reality.
Capshaw did not spend a single penny of the six figures in revenue that GardenMisc generated from more than 10,000 sales. This and his work ethic were very convincing.
“I turned a space in our garage into a shipping station. They saw me boxing and sending out orders. They saw the dedication,” says Capshaw, now 16, who enlisted the guidance of an accountant and business attorney. “We ran the numbers … That was the final push. My parents signed the lease.”
Stemistry made Capshaw perhaps the youngest owner of a retail store in the nation. It also allowed GardenMisc to merge into Stemistry.
His proven business acumen drew interest from potential investors, which he declined.
“Luckily, I watched a lot of Shark Tank, so I learned not to take on early investors,” Capshaw says with a chuckle.
In 2017, he started the nonprofit Dylan Capshaw Wildlife Foundation, a sanctuary that has rescued hundreds of exotic animals. In 2020, along with GardenMisc, Capshaw started For the Frontline, a nonprofit that creates 3D printed reusable face shields and face masks for first responders, and The Sanitation Station, a for-profit company of PPE vending machines.
“I was out of [in-person] school. I had lots of time on my hands,” the Rancho Solano Preparatory School junior says. “I really like to stay busy. I was never one to sit and watch TV.”
His interest in flowers was sparked by his sanctuary’s exotic plants and flowers. He sold them in creative ways, and it caught on.
But coffee was always his passion. The obsession with making fun cappuccinos and latte art led to his parents getting him a nice espresso machine. He used it to hone his skills and, ultimately, open a flower and coffee shop under one roof.
“It’s not even about making money. It’s about starting a business and concepts that are cool ideas,” Capshaw says.
When Capshaw interviewed employee candidates, he was upfront about his age, asking if they’d be comfortable working for someone half their age.
Some laughed it off. But others liked Stemistry’s model and believed in Capshaw.
“I’m learning so much about running a business because of my staff. Some have more experience than years I’ve been alive, and I see them as mentors and partners rather than employees,” Capshaw says.
The sight on a Saturday, Stemistry’s busiest day, or feedback from a customer who is thrilled the shop is in the neighborhood, gives Capshaw a rush that no amount of caffeine could.
“To walk in and see a full store with everyone having coffee, laughing and happy, that’s by far the most rewarding aspect of it,” Capshaw says. “I always get so much joy from creating a welcoming atmosphere like that.”