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How to support alumni-owned businesses this season

Jacksonville University alumni are hardworking individuals who continue to make waves and serve their communities long after they graduate. When you’re looking for holiday gifts this season, or want to support an alumni-owned business on Small Business Saturday, be sure to check out the following businesses and support your fellow Dolphins.

Eun Cho ‘03, Haymaker Coffee

Eun Cho is a part of a triumvirate that runs Haymaker Coffee Co., an online shop, where customers can buy coffee by the bag or K-Cup. Haymaker Coffee saw a gap in the marketplace where there weren’t many great options for coffee that promoted the spirit of Americana the right way. They know that once customers have a taste of their coffee, there is no turning back.

Haymaker offers three different roasts in ground coffee or whole bean varieties, as well as Keurig-compatible cups.

“I spent 15 years in finance in New York City, and that’s all I knew. The pivot to entrepreneurship has been challenging, yet, it’s been the most rewarding professional experience so far in my career. That’s because I work with great people, I’m passionate about the work, and it allowed me to come back to my hometown to build Haymaker Coffee Co. It’s been tremendous getting the support of folks here in Jacksonville and reconnecting with JU to leverage the relationship to grow my business.

Dea Sims ‘89 and Mike Sims ‘91, Your Pie Pizza, Fleming Island

Your Pie was the first fast-casual pizza restaurant of its kind. The concept grew from a love of the food and culture around the table in Ischia, a small volcanic island located 19 miles from the city of Naples, Italy. At Your Pie, our food and our culture make us who we are as a brand.

Dea Sims and her husband Mike were the first Your Pie franchisees in North Florida. Menu items include signature pizzas and pasta, salads, paninis, gelato, craft beer, and wine. A Your Pie Pizza gift certificate can buy someone custom-made, wood-fired pizza at one of its more than 75 locations across the country.

Deborah Kinsey ‘04, Kinsey’s Candles

Deborah Kinsey and her husband, Mike, started Kinsey’s Candles as an online store in 2019, and now boast a wide variety of scented candles for every season and theme.

“We’re so happy to be able to share some of our favorite creations with you and hope that our scented products bring you as much enjoyment as they do our family. Based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, we love our customers, beach life, our family, and the discovery and development of awesome fragrances! Each order and positive review are so important and exciting for us! Thank you so much for supporting our small business and our dreams.”

Kinsey’s sells scented candles, reed diffusers, room spray, wax melts, gift baskets and more. It offers free local delivery within 25 miles of Ponte Vedra Beach, making it a convenient gift option for local shoppers.

Christian Thomsen ‘03, Soluna Yoga + Spa

Christian and his wife, Dori, have owned Soluna Yoga + Spa since 2014 and offer a variety of classes, workshops, massage, and even a “Self-Reset Yoga Retreat” in Costa Rica.

Christian was introduced to yoga in college in Jacksonville and his practice crystallized while living in Costa Rica for five years. He believes a simple 30 minutes per day of asana, pranayama, and meditation does wonders for the feelings of happiness, balance, joy, acceptance, and gratitude in life.

A gift certificate could treat someone to a relaxing spa day or a series of yoga classes.