In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to shine a spotlight on the female entrepreneurs who have come through (or are currently participating in) reSET’s Impact Accelerator program. Andréa Hawkins co-founded Berkins Blend Café in Glastonbury, CT with her husband Doug after they were both laid off from corporate America.
Meet Andréa Hawkins of Berkins Blend Café
Andréa Hawkins is the Co-Owner of Berkins Family LLC, which includes two businesses: Berkins Blend Café (a gourmet coffee cafe in Glastonbury) and Berkins on Oak (a full-service American Fusion Restaurant in Hartford near the state capitol serving breakfast and lunch and providing on-site and pick-up or delivered Catering). in her corporate career prior to founding two businesses, Andréa held executive and leadership roles in the Insurance sector at Aetna, CIGNA, MassMutual, The Hartford, UnitedHealth Group at Optum, Prudential and TIAA-CREF where she was responsible for leading Accounting/Finance, Operations Excellence, Large-Scale IT Programs, transformational culture change, communications and strategic planning activities and teams in the U.S. and abroad. Her focus has always been on helping companies create order from chaos.
reSET: What are some challenges you’ve faced and overcome as a female business owner?
Andréa: Figuring out how to create sustainable growth in the business. Maintaining manageable staffing levels. Staying afloat the first couple of years while the business is scaling.
reSET: How did participating in the reSET Impact Accelerator program help you and your business?
Andréa: The accelerator exposed us to different people who offered advice in our business and gave us a connection to others who had similar challenges to ours.
reSET: Who are some of your female role models?
Andréa: Any woman who has the courage to step out on faith and start their own business. Specifically, Joann Price is a role model for me and many other women entrepreneurs. Another role model is my Aunt and Godmother, Dr. Yolanda Hawkins-Rodgers who has had her own business for decades. Our family has a number of female entrepreneurs.
reSET: What’s one piece of advice you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?
Andréa: Stick together. Find ways to collaborate. Lift each other up. Support one another’s businesses. Be kind and loving. Barter.
reSET: Anything else we should know? Are there other women who help keep your businesses running or have helped you along the way?
Andréa: Our manager, Andra Moe, is a woman and most of our employees are women. My mother, Pat Hawkins, and sister-in-law, Phyllis Barber Smith help us in the business. We have three daughters Maya, Halle and Jayda and nieces, Micah, Cassie and Jessa who have also helped out. Our first intern, Catina Griffiths helped to launch our first business and Nakia Walton helped launch our second location.
I applaud Nan Price (Uncommon Content and Innovation Destination Hartford) for helping us “stay on the map”, Jeannette Punsoni Dardenne for awesome marketing ideas, Amanda Raus (Fox61 News) and Kara Sundlan (Channel 3-WFSB) for great news coverage. My niece, Micah Barber Smith has supported us in so many ways, and leads technology for our business (remotely from DC). There are so many more women who supported us along the way—we have been blessed. Community support of DST and AKA sororities as well as small women-owned business collaborators has been phenomenal.
Editor’s Note: Are you looking to build your team? Andréa is teaching a free workshop at reSET on Tuesday, April 30th from 5:00pm – 7:00pm all about determining when to hire, who to hire and how to hire. RSVP for Building the Right Team.