The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Equator Coffees & Teas the 2016 California Small Business of the Year.
According to a press release issued by the federal agency, this marks the first time a certified LGBT-owned business has won this prestigious title.
Equator was founded by partners Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell in 1995 in their Marin County garage. Today, the company has 90 employees across its burgeoning retail and wholesale operations, and rebounded quickly after losing one of its major wholesale clients, La Boulange, the Chronicle reported late last year.
The company's first San Francisco cafe opened last spring in Mid-Market, and plans are in the works to bring a second location to the newly-constructed high-rise office complex at 222 Second St. in SoMa. Many restaurants and coffee shops also carry Equator, including Napa's three-Michelin-starred The French Laundry.
“This celebrated recognition of Helen and Brooke’s outstanding work not only exemplifies what we know of women in business leadership; it also illuminates an answer to the challenge of our time, demonstrating that businesses can be both successful and sustainable,” said California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. “Their example and their achievements set the standard for small businesses to follow and I congratulate them both on their contributions to the community and the state of California."
Equator will be honored in May in Washington D.C., during the National Small Business Week celebration.
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