Never underestimate the power of small things. Even something as simple as a cup of coffee could change a life. Christin and Johnny Eastman are the founders of Sweet Aroma Coffee, a coffee subscription service with a passionate mission at its core. Taking a beverage (most of us) consume every day and turning it into something deeper takes an Achiever with drive, determination, and most of all, heart. We interviewed Christin to learn more about her business and the vision behind her work.
Darling Magazine: If you had thirty seconds to explain Sweet Aroma Coffee to a new friend, how would you share its vision?
Christin: Sweet Aroma is a mission-minded business that is focused on helping women who have been victims of sex trafficking start a new life. Through our marketing campaigns we seek to raise awareness about human trafficking; we started Sweet Aroma to empower people to be a voice to the voiceless and make a difference in other people’s lives.
DM: How did you go from the idea of Sweet Aroma Coffee to the current-day reality of your business?
Christin: Sweet Aroma started out as a dream on a rooftop in Thailand. When Johnny and I were there we started dreaming about how we could use coffee to help fight prostitution. I filled page after page of my journal with ideas and dreams of what Sweet Aroma would be. When we got back to the States, we started Sweet Aroma Coffee.
When we first began, we served coffee all over Knoxville as a pop-up shop with our friend, Stephanie Bittick. We would load up my living room (which was full of antique furniture) and set it up at our venue for the day, serve coffee, share our hearts for ending sex trafficking, and then tear it all down and move it all back into my house. We did this for months until we were completely exhausted! We eventually felt like it was time to stop doing these pop-up shops and regroup.
We then had the idea of offering an online coffee shop where people could sign up for a monthly subscription and enjoy different coffee from all over the world, right in their own homes. Thus began sweetaromacoffee.org, where 36% of the gross profit is donated back to the organizations we partner with in the Philippines and Kenya.
… we started Sweet Aroma to empower people to be a voice to the voiceless and make a difference in other people’s lives.
DM: How are the profits from Sweet Aroma Coffee transformed into help for women who have been in the sex-trafficking industry?
Christin: In the Philippines funds are used to sponsor girls individually through an organization called Wipe Every Tear. This includes room and board and the items needed for their education. Every single penny raised goes to the girls; the staff in the country raises their own support separately. In Kenya, the funds are used to teach the women a new trade and provide them with opportunities for learning and living in a healthy community.
DM: What is the heartbeat of Sweet Aroma Coffee? What makes you excited to get up in the morning and keep pouring into this business?
Christin: We use our platform to empower, encourage, and inspire people — both the women our company supports overseas and the people who are purchasing our coffee! Hearing of how lives are being transformed abroad constantly encourages us and fuels our passion … these women coming out of sex slavery receive the freedom to go to school or learn a trade. They are literally starting a new life, and we feel truly blessed to get to be a part of their healing through our coffee company.
Our desire for our customers is not only that they will love the coffee, but that they will also be empowered to go out and make a difference in their own spheres of influence!
DM: What has been your greatest success with Sweet Aroma Coffee so far?
Christin: Our greatest success has come in two forms. First, we are deeply grateful for the business side of Sweet Aroma — the efficient website, the amazing coffee roaster we have, and the awesome team we work with.
Secondly, knowing that victims of sex trafficking are being impacted in meaningful ways through Sweet Aroma and the network of followers we have is something that truly humbles us.
DM: What has been your greatest struggle?
Christin: Our greatest struggle early on was maintaining a clear vision. We wanted to do a million different things and help everyone, but we realized its more beneficial if we stick to our core values and really focused on what we feel called to do.
DM: How has leading Sweet Aroma Coffee changed you?
Christin: Leading Sweet Aroma Coffee continually changes me. I’m constantly humbled and in awe of the amazing people we work with. And I’m learning that it is very important to be moldable, pliable and teachable with both my business and my personal life; the two often overlap.
… our desire is to see people walk out of bad situations, abuse and addiction, and if Sweet Aroma has some small role in that, then we’ve done what we came to do.
DM: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Christin: More than anything we want to see captives set free. Whether that’s at home or abroad, our desire is to see people walk out of bad situations, abuse and addiction, and if Sweet Aroma has some small role in that, then we’ve done what we came to do.
Image (top) via Morgan Ashley Photography; Image (bottom) courtesy of Sweet Aroma Coffee