Ally Walsh is a modern day renaissance woman, performing an everyday balancing act of owning a thriving small business and maintaining a successful modeling career. We spoke with her about tough lessons learned, what it means to be a female entrepreneur and how to take care of yourself through it all.
First things firs: how and when did you make your way to LA?
I grew up in New York on Long Island. I came to LA when I was 19 by way of Miami, where I had started my modeling career. I had visited Venice, and really fell in love with the food and lifestyle of the community there.
You started Canyon Coffee with your boyfriend Casey, how did the two of you decide to go into the coffee business?
Casey and I had this dream of creating something together from the time we met, we just didn't know what. Our passion for coffee grew over time, thanks largely to the traveling we were doing in our careers. We'd always look for local roasters in any town we found ourselves in. Before long we had become the go-to coffee experts to our community, and we became clear about the kind of coffee we and our friends enjoyed. After Casey started working in the industry, we became friends with a talented roaster named James. With that friendship in place, one day it just clicked.
Ally wears the Tallulah Dress in Celeste Floral
You have a tight knit group of female business owners and friends that you work and collaborate with often, how do you think that has shaped the way you manage your company?
Having other women entrepreneurs as some of my best friends is like an ongoing sounding board and support group. We're always sharing things we've learned, running ideas by each other, and trading knowledge and advice. Maybe most importantly, having friends who can relate to the grind of starting a business enables us all to laugh about our experience together.
What are some tough lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I think we've viewed most of the lessons we've learned as inevitable to starting and growing a business! Usually the "tough" lessons come in those moments when you realize you made a mistake and think, "Oh, we shouldn't have spent money on that." But you learn. In our industry, a big lesson is always playing out in understanding how crucial your margins are. And when it comes to starting a business with your partner, I think you learn a lot of lessons in understanding how to separate the business from your personal and romantic life in the long-term.
Ally wears the Birdie Jumpsuit in Midnight Floral
You recently moved from the beach to Echo Park… what are some of your favorite places in your new neighborhood?
So many! I love walking to Cookbook for groceries. Honey Hi for Canyon Coffee & lunch. Coffee at Triniti. Dinner and wine at Elf, Botanica, and MHZH! The Sunday farmers market in Atwater and Thursday evenings in Pasadena are both so nice. I like hiking around Elysian, walking around the Echo Park lake, going to walk and meditate at the Self Realization Fellowship on Mt. Washington.
Walk us through an average day in your life…
I usually wake up between 7-7:30, meditate, and make a pour over. At 8:00, walk to Elysian for a hike. After that, get into whatever is on the agenda for the day. Sometimes it's working together with Casey, going over what needs to get done for Canyon. Sometimes it's tasting new coffees or planning shoots or events, other days it can involve modeling jobs and traveling. I always try to get a yoga class in. Then I'll make dinner at home with Casey. We’ve been on a kick of walking to Sage after dinner for the KindKreme vegan ice cream they serve!
What sort of self care practices do you make sure to weave into your hectic schedule?
I make space for my time in the morning. Make coffee, go on a walk or hike, meditate. If I ever feel like I just need a break, I usually get outside to go for a walk or to a studio for a yoga class. Ive been going to acupuncture regularly for a couple years now and I always make sure to make time for that. I also love eating well and I think taking care of myself with regard to what I eat and drink is an important self-care practice.
What’s next for Canyon Coffee?
Coming up on our second year in business, I think we're really hitting our stride! We're planning our first Espresso and Drip-specific roasts, have a new package on the way, and are starting to help more cafes, hotels and restaurants set up their coffee programs. I think we'll be starting to turn up our production as we get more accounts and more people start online subscriptions with us. We have some travels coming up and are excited to share more of our Coffee Travel Guides!
All images by Symrin Chawla.