Advertising alumna Rosie Quasarano started Cup & Spoon as a booth at “The Nosh” in Chicago. Each Saturday, she would set up her stand, sell coffee and baked goods, and then break everything down. Now, Cup & Spoon is a brick-and-mortar store located at 2415 W. North Ave. in Chicago.
“I knew I wanted to own a coffee shop for a very long time, but starting that process was overwhelming,” said Quasarano, who got her start by being part of a local food fest that pops up once a week. “Think farmers market for restaurants.”
Cup & Spoon is now preparing to celebrate its one-year anniversary at it North Avenue location on Friday, May 29.
According to Quasarano, Cup & Spoon stands for coffee, community and art. On a daily basis, she is involved in each of those aspects – from ordering to serving, meeting with people from the community, and organizing upcoming art events in her space.
She also continues to use the advertising and public relations skills she learned at MSU.
“One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is marketing/advertising. Given my education and job experience, I feel I have a leg up on spreading the word about my business as well as the expertise to execute my creative ideas,” Quasarano said. “I do all my own advertising and public relations, including both writing and design, and manage our website, too. And, thanks to technology and social media I’m able to get the word out and reach people daily.”
Social media has allowed her business to reach a couple thousand people.
“It would be costly to have that reach using traditional media,” Quasarano said.
As an MSU student, Quasarano was a member of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and had two internships. One was with a small promotional company and the other a traditional advertising agency in Lansing.
“An advertising/PR degree opens up a world of possibility,” she said. “In addition to the traditional path of heading to an agency, someone with an advertising background can help play an integral role in any industry and easily transfer their skills to running a business of their own.”
After graduating from MSU, Quasarano moved to New York City and worked for Hill Holiday where she worked on national brands that included Chili’s and CVS.
She later moved to Chicago to work as an Associate Creative Director for a division of Leo Burnett.
“It (Leo Burnett) has a wonderful history of brand building and does a very good job of giving creatives access to resources and continuing education classes,” Quasarano said. “As an associate creative director, I got the opportunity to help guide concepts, refine creative ideas and build partnerships with the client.
“At Leo, I primarily used advertising skills. Now as a freelancer and small business owner, I use my PR skills quite a bit – from crafting press releases to social media to talking with the press, and more.”
In October 2013, Quasarano decided to give her full-time attention to Cup & Spoon.“I left my job at Leo Burnett and set out to follow my dream,” she said. To support her venture, Quasarano also started freelance writing on the side. Everyone dreams of being their own boss, and it really is wonderful, but it’s a lot of hard work, too,” Quasarano said. “It’s a juggling act for sure, but seeing my dream not only come true, but grow, makes it all worth it.”