Umeko Needs Support

[transcription of video further down below]

My name is Hana Yoshimoto and my pronouns are she/they.  I am here to ask for your help in supporting Umeko Motoyoshi, as they are under a huge amount of financial stress and pressure related to astronomical unforeseen business expenses. Although we are unrelated, they are my dear friend and mentor, as well as an impactful member of the coffee community. Umeko has been in coffee for 14 years as a barista, manager, trainer, and espresso technician. They have also designed instant coffee manufacturing systems and participated in barista competitions. In 2018, Umeko launched Umeshiso, selling rainbow cupping spoons. This was the first of many ways in which they would continue to make the industry a more welcoming space for all. 

In addition to their retail business, Umeko is an author, consultant, podcast host, and community organizer. They are candid about their experiences with mental health diagnoses and vocal about their journey in learning about anti-blackness and racism. Umeko actively works towards becoming a better advocate and ally for all people of marginalized identities. The work that they do is so powerful and incredibly necessary as we move forward in making coffee a more equal, sustainable, and welcoming industry. Through all of this work, Umeko has truly done an incredible job of uplifting so many coffee professionals and small businesses. Their compassion and generosity are some of their greatest gifts and now it is time for them to be on the receiving end of the kind of support that they have given to so many others. Please join me in helping Umeko so that they can continue to serve our community. 

“I’m just trying to grow my platform so that more people can stand on it.”

[video transcription]

Hi! My name is Umeko. My pronouns are they/them and she/her and I sell rainbow spoons for a living. I also help some small businesses with their social media. I write articles about coffee sometimes. And overall, I have a lot of projects. But with everything that I do, I apply the same ethos of wanting my products and services to be as affordable as possible for people who don’t have a ton of money. Like my spoons, I sell on a sliding scale and offer rates that are very affordable. So as a result, I work all the time. I work seven days a week, but I never really have any money. And that’s been okay with me because I don’t need a lot, but this month I have had a cascade of really disastrous luck that has resulted in $4,000 of unforeseen business expenses. And that represents all of the money that I had to pay my rent, to buy food, let alone covering my operating expenses for my business for the next month and a half. So the next month and a half is just a big question mark for me and I am scared. And I can’t work any more than I am already working to make any extra money. There just aren’t enough hours in the day and I need help. 

2020 has been really hard for everyone and for small businesses and my business is no exception to that. I didn’t qualify for PPP loan. I don’t know why but I didn’t. I have just been trying my best to make it work. I saved as much money as I could and placed my biggest order of spoons yet and felt really nervous and scared about but just was like “okay, i am going to go for it”. I work with this awesome small factory in China and they custom make all my spoons for me. I have a huge amount of trust in them and was just like “okay, we are going to do it. We are going to go for it”. The shipment had all of these issues with FedEx and with customs and there were all of these communication problems. I have been on the phone for like 5 days straight just trying to understand what is happening with the shipment and it is now being returned to China and then they have to ship it back to me a second time. And that is a delay and that’s too bad, but the huge issue is that I have to pay for the return shipping to China and the shipping back to the US. That is $4,000 and again, that’s all the money that I have. 

So now, I am just in the hole and I don’t know how I am going to survive, basically. For the next month and a half, I just, it’s just a big question mark. So that is why I am asking for your help. I wish that I could do it by myself you know, and I have feelings of embarrassment over having to ask for help like this, but I just need help right now. Anything that you have at all, to contribute any way that you can support, I really really appreciate it. I really appreciate you taking the time to watch this and if you have a few dollars, even just a little bit, anything would be so appreciated. If you are able to share this on your social media, that would be really really helpful. I just appreciate you and I appreciate you taking the time and I want to say thank you. And I am just hoping that, you know, we’re like gonna get through this.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Hana Yoshimoto 
Oakland, CA
Umeko M 
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