Job search sites may say it the best:
“Find the right fit,” urges Monster.com. “You deserve a job that loves you back,” Glassdoor encourages.
For entrepreneur Dorian Bolden ’02, falling in love with a job meant taking the leap from Wall Street to Durham’s West Main Street, where he opened a coffee shop in 2009.
“Decide you want it more than you are afraid to do it,” Bolden says.
Bolden started Beyu Caffé (pronounced “Be You”) with the hope of creating a gathering place where everyone could be themselves.
“We want people to be as authentic as they are,” he says
Today Beyu, one of the few African American-owned businesses in downtown Durham, has expanded across the Triangle to four locations – including two cafés on the Duke campus. Two more locations are planned for 2023, including a pop-up concession at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, along with a partnership with a retail grocer to sell Beyu coffee beans. There also are plans to explore a workforce development partnership between Beyu and Durham Technical Community College for the next generation of baristas and entrepreneurs. This all wrapped into Beyu’s mission:
Without community, it’s just coffee.
But the idea for Beyu was created, albeit painfully, from challenge.
Just out of Duke, where he graduated with a double degree in economics and sociology, Bolden started a career in finance in a New York firm that eventually was bought out by Bank of America. Bolden hung on through the merger but began to assess his priorities as he saw close colleagues lose their jobs.
Around the same time, Bolden’s father passed away, and he took a trip to Jamaica to clear his mind. Bolden says he returned with new priorities. He eventually quit his job in finance and homed in on the things in his life that brought him joy. It was coffee that came to mind – the vibe, the community, the culture, the warm confidence a neighborhood coffee shop could bring and say: “You have a place here, too.”
“He started working for a coffee shop in New York, and I was like, ‘OK?’ ”says Taineisha Cellel Bolden ’04, Dorian’s wife, who has known him since her freshman year at Duke. “But the nature of our relationship since we met was we support each other – in whatever.”
Bolden got to work, Cellel Bolden says. As she applied to medical school, he wrote his business plan on the living room floor of their tiny New York City apartment. When she got into medical school at the University of North Carolina, he followed her with coffee dreams still wafting.
He simultaneously found work as a barista at a local Durham coffee shop, as an assistant manager at Panera Bread and as a bartender at a Brazilian steakhouse. In his spare time, Bolden pitched his business plan to investors, participated in accelerator programs for startups and eventually had enough capital to go for it – all in the shadow of the 2008 recession.
In 2019, he worked with Resilient Ventures, a Durham-based capital fund focused on creating access to capital and networks specifically for African American founders.
He called on friends from the business world and fellow Black entrepreneurs to invest in his idea. Fast forward to today: He's raised and reinvested enough capital to reach his dream in Beyu.
Edmond Magny ’02, an entrepreneur and former roommate when they both worked at big financial firms in New York City, was among Bolden’s first investors. Magny witnessed Bolden’s struggle to merge his financial acumen and his passion to give back. But seeing Bolden just go for it?
“That was inspiring to me,” Magny says.
Taineisha Bolden, a family physician, says that’s the very spirit Dorian rubs off on everyone he meets. Just a few years ago, she found herself unhappy with the increasing economic demands of health care – seeing patients more quickly than she wanted to, filling patient quotas, endless paperwork. She didn’t feel like she was giving her all to her patients, but as someone who craved stability, she didn’t see herself shifting.
Bolden suggested she take her own leap – into the private practice she ended up launching in 2018.
“That was 100 percent because [of] Dorian,” says Taineisha Bolden. “He was like, ‘You could totally do that.’”