Kate Lummen: Cosmetologist-Turned-Cider Chief

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Kate Lummen's cosmetology career took a unique turn several years ago, when she and her husband, Jason, decided to turn a hobby into a successful Westside business.

Known as "The Boss Lady" of People's Cider Company, Kate has found the perfect balance of still being an engaged mom to the couple's two sons.

You grew up in Grand Rapids and never wanted to leave. Why?
I love this city. All of my siblings have wanted to move away, but they have all come back. I have always been the one to think: "This is the place! This is the place that is going to be cool and there are so many things to do."

What was the moment that made you say, "Let's go all in!"
Jason was working for the State of Michigan for the Unemployment Agency and he got laid off. He was homebrewing and getting into it and wanted to do it for a living. I thought, "I don't know. This is scary. We have these two small kids". We started small, only with a couple of tanks. We started with a couple of accounts and we built from there. One piece at a time. The guys next door at Long Road Distillery showed us this opportunity on Leonard NW and we decided to buy it.

How important is collaboration with other women business owners?
I'm learning every single day as I go. I'm still in the phase where I'm learning from other people. I'm learning just by making mistakes as we go, by just trying to do it. We don't have investors. We're just going along and making it work, just trying to figure it out and it's great.

Do your sons understand what you do?
They do. My older one is into it. My youngest son wants to come to People's Cider, and he likes to do dishes. He likes to clean up and serves people Chex mix. He is our little helper.

What do you appreciate most about working in this environment?
I love that I'm my own boss. I love that I make my own hours. I'm a room mom at my kids' school. I love that I can drive on all the field trips. That is really important to me. We split time at home and at People's Cider. We can do that because we are our own boss.

Biggest challenge as a small business startup:
Learning how to do the paperwork and licensing that people don't realize you have to do for a small business. That's not the fun stuff, but that's part of my job.

Biggest accomplishment:
Just being here. Starting something from nothing. We are a "mom and pop" and knowing all of our customers and becoming friends with them, I love that.

Advice to female entrepreneurs:
Don't quit. Keep on trying. We've made so many mistakes. But when you get to your goal, it's worth it!

Written by Jennifer A. Pascua, Digital Content Strategy Manager for West Michigan Woman.

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