Emily McIntyre, Founder and CEO of Catalyst Trade
Bass guitarist. Fantasy writer. Aquarius. Emily McIntyre is as multifaceted as her favorite washed Sidama coffees. No stranger to the trial and error journey of entrepreneurship, she has been in the business of business since 13 years old, when she founded her own private music studio. Now, seven businesses in, she continues to prove that adaptability and curiosity can fuel fruitful and fantastic creations.
Emily was not always the kick-ass CEO that she is today. But in her early 20s, a stint working at a YMCA camp under a visionary manager blew the doors off her previous concepts of her own capabilities. McIntyre says, “Suddenly, I found myself responding to crazy scenarios with a lot of aplomb–I felt so alive, and realized I loved it!”
She attributes a lot of learning and big life changes to this time period in her life, “I learned a little bit about coffee and a lot about food and beverage, and retail, and I learned how much I care about maintaining a workplace where employees feel safe and are paid what they deserve to be paid. I absolutely loved working as a barista, and I met my life partner, Michael, around the same time.”
The journey from her first coffee job managing a shop in North Kansas City to becoming the CEO of Catalyst Trade has not been the proverbial “walk in the park.” Recalling discussions with Michael about their philosophies of coffee and business, McIntyre states, “We spent a lot of time in our early days talking about how hospitality with coffee is like a campfire we are all sitting around. We are drawn to that bonfire of connection, and really that’s the path we’ve been on all along."
Of course, there are many paths the two could have taken. Instead they decided to forge their own. “Neither of us felt very entrepreneurial, but we weren’t getting what we needed out of our lives. We got married, we got pregnant, we needed a future together and we couldn’t find it in what we were doing.” The McIntyres spent years creating and recreating places in the industry, and when they began working with Catalyst Trade cofounder Zelalem Girma Bayou, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place.
The trio founded Catalyst Trade, and Emily reflects on the creation of the business, “Magic is desire made real. Desire manifested. I love Catalyst because it is a personal manifestation of my hopes and dreams; for myself, for the people I love and for the industry.” She continues, “It’s not perfect, but you know, what is perfection? I love [Catalyst] because it is a framework for trying things that I believe matter in the industry. For being creative, for investing in other humans and for allowing myself to be invested in. Getting to craft something out of nothing is magic. It’s creation! We carved out and created a place that goes by our own rules!”
Catalyst Trade has been a true catalyst for Emily personally, too. “As a travel-hungry girl growing up in the Midwest and feeling like I wanted much bigger horizons than I could see, I’m finally, through Catalyst, realizing that those horizons go out as far as I can push them.”
Though she is responsible for much of her own success, as an entrepreneur, Emily knows she couldn’t have made it this far on her own, “I’m really grateful to the people who’ve believed in Catalyst thus far. We’ve had a lot of success over the last couple of years, a lot of visible, external success, and it’s because of the people who believe in us… and…believe in our good intentions.
Emily McIntyre. She’s the kind of visionary, get-@#%^-done person you want to hitch your wagon to, and Catalyst Trade reflects that. She states, “It’s an adventure ride! Obstacles happen, but we’re excited to forge ahead. We don’t just talk about making a difference in the world. We want to do it!"