March 07, 2022
I was born and raised in Wimer, Oregon – a tiny town in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley (two hours inland from the coast) - surrounded by evergreens and mountains. I grew up on a 400-acre quarter horse ranch and spent my youth running around outside with my cousins and siblings. Yet somehow, the ocean is what I have always been most passionate about.
During high school I was the editor of the yearbook and discovered a deep love of photojournalism. After school, I accepted a photography job in Bellingham, WA and spent the next six years working as a product photographer for an industrial company. Living so close to the San Juan Islands allowed me to make the ferry commute every weekend to Friday Harbor and volunteer with several different marine conservation groups.
I was offered a Foreign Correspondent position with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Japan at The Cove and embarked on a decade-long whirlwind of global travel, photography, journalism, and pursuing my passion for marine conservation.
After my time at The Cove, I joined Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the Steve Irwin, and discovered that I loved working on boats. After many years overseas, I returned Stateside and moved to Friday Harbor (WA) full time where I crewed on whale watch boats and worked at a café where I learned to be a barista. Eventually I attended the Coast Guard Sea School in Saint Petersburg, Florida and obtained my 100-ton captain’s license.
I first came to Seward in 2003 on a camping trip to Miller’s Landing. At the time, I was living in Girdwood and made the trip down to Seward regularly with my cousins.
In 2017 I was living in Bellingham but crewed aboard a fishing tender out of Seward. Spending the summer here reminded me how much I love this little town and I decided to stay.
When I decided to settle in Seward, I was at the end of a decade of constant travel, crewing on boats in many different parts of the world, and living in the back of a Jeep Cherokee. I was exhausted to my very core. After running around the world, the community I found in Seward was so inviting that I decided to call it home. I worked random jobs (Sea Bean, Zudy’s, Salmon Sisters) and began volunteering at the prison. I was ready to plant roots and build a solid life
I was friends with the owners and guides of Liquid Adventures and was familiar with The Train Wreck [a group of four Alaska Railroads cars converted into retail and restaurant space in the North end of the Seward Boat Harbor]. On a hike to Tonsina with one of their kayak guides, I learned they were moving out of the train car, where their office had been located for many years. I casually mentioned my secret dream of wanting to own a coffee shop and that the train car would be an ideal location.
As is the norm with small towns, word spread about that conversation on the Tonsina trail, and within days Seward locals were rallying behind me to encourage me to start a coffee shop. Judy Odhner at Zudy’s was integral to me finding the courage to take the risk and pursue my dream. She really encouraged me and pep-talked me and made me believe in myself.
I had a meeting with the owners of Liquid Adventures about taking over the train car and then it all just happened so quickly. It was a whirlwind. Despite a lot of frustrated tears, I somehow made it all happen, with a lot of help from the community, and 13 Ravens Coffee House opened in May of 2019 at The Train Wreck in Seward’s harbor district.
Less than three years later, I purchased the entire Train Wreck from the woman who started it back in 1997. It was a big step for me, and something that once again prompted the Seward community to rally and support and encourage. It was so beautiful and humbling to see how many people in the town love the Train Wreck and wanted to help keep it alive. And it was beautiful to be shown how many people believed in me and had no doubt that I was the right person to continue the legacy that these train cars have.
Without owning a business here, I probably wouldn’t know half the people I do. The coffee shop brings people in, and I feel so blessed to have turned customers into friends. The Seward community truly is spectacular. There are so many good people in this town and seeing their faces every day and feeling how much they support my shop is the best part of my job.
Life itself inspires me. There have been times, a lot of times, when life has been really hard. When I was 16 my brother was murdered and that changed my perspective on every aspect of life. It took a few years to wade through the grief, but once I made it out, I realized that life is beautiful and special and spectacular. I also realized that it’s fragile and fleeting, no matter how many years you live. I didn’t want my number to be called before I’d had a chance to see the world and discover who I am and really and truly…LIVE. My brother’s death was the catalyst for my extensive travel and I’m so happy with how my life has been.
Travel is what helps you find your true self, especially solo travel. I feel fortunate to have seen the places I have and to have created deep friendships with people in many different countries. Now that I’m no longer a nomad, people get on me sometimes for working too much and not taking enough vacations, but my response is that I am so satisfied with the experiences I’ve had and with the memories I have of the world. My focus now is my coffee shop because I love it so much. I’m exactly where I want to be – nurturing the roots I’ve worked so hard to plant.
Winter is most definitely my favorite season in Seward. Summer is undoubtedly beautiful, but winter is downright magical. I’ve always been a cold-weather person, so to find a place where snow drapes the shoreline of the sea is the most perfect environment for me. I love snowshoeing through the forest and being surrounded by such peaceful quiet. There’s nothing like it.
It might be blasphemy for a coffee shop owner to admit this, but I’ve never been a “coffee snob”. I’ll drink gas station coffee that makes you shudder with the first sip. I’ll drink the drip coffee that my dad makes and reheats for several days until the pot is gone. At my own shop, I mix it up regularly. I’ll do just straight shots of espresso or oat milk lattes. I do love breve’s the most, but those can be dangerous! When your expensive Grundens rain pants start feeling a bit snug, it’s time to stop drinking half and half!
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not possible. Stop looking for excuses and go for it. It’s going to be challenging and you’re going to make mistakes, but being your own boss is so worth it. Ask for advice, but also trust your instinct.
What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to do things the way every other coffee shop in the world does things. That’s what makes things unique. And it works for me and my shop. My personality is all over my shop – I love the color orange and if you’ve been to my shop, you know that because there’s a ton of orange in such a small space.
I used to be a music photographer and I have autographed concert posters on the walls. Initially, I hesitated to put them up because it’s not really a coffee shop thing, but I spend most of my time at my shop and I love seeing those posters every day, and customers love them too. So many great conversations have been started because of the photos and posters on the walls. It’s all about being authentic.
13 Ravens is located at the "Train Wreck" - 411 Port Ave, Seward, AK 99664.
13 Ravens is open majority of the year.
February 08, 2022