FLINT, Michigan — Two small Flint businesses are partnering up to offer a limited-edition run of specialty coffee blends and crewneck sweatshirts. The collaboration reflects coffee, art, and fashion, and aims to foster a sense of creativity and community.
Rootless Coffee Co.
CCO and Co-owner, Jonathan “Jono” Diener, and CEO and Founder, Sean Murray, had very similar lifestyles but met on a whim. For years, they’d both worked in coffee shops, and been interested in marketing, but had no idea of one another. After a mutual friend introduced them, the new friendship quickly morphed into a new business partnership.
In 2020, when the pandemic prompted the struggle or closing of many beloved coffee shops, the idea for Rootless was born.
“We sat down at Soggy Bottom Bar and vented about what we wish the coffee world could be,” Diener says. “Craft coffee should have an easier entry point. People shouldn’t be turned off by pretentious vibes. And the artwork could be a hell of a lot better. So I brought my comic and music industry network and ideas to the table to catch people’s eyes.”
Murray says the company was born out of both circumstance and vision. “The normal path for most coffee companies is to open a brick-and-mortar cafe and roastery with e-commerce and wholesale being a secondary focus,” he says. “Brick-and-mortar wasn’t an option and it allowed me to see an incredible opportunity to build Rootless through e-commerce and wholesale first. Sitting with Jono at Soggy’s was a cosmic ‘holy sh*t’ moment because we were so aligned in vision. We built this thing to uplift creatives and provide people with awesome craft coffee.”
The small business continues on its mission of nurturing creativity, coffee, and community. Their latest collaboration is in partnership with BAU-HŌUSE
, a fellow local business. Lee Allen, CEO and co-founder and Antonio Forte, CFO and co-founder, created their small business on three passions: fashion, art, and community.
The launch for Rootless Coffee Co. and BAU-HOUSE's collaboration kicks off on Friday, April 14 during Flint Artwalk from 5 to 8 p.m.
“We noticed a shopping void for high-end streetwear and art enthusiasts,” Allen says. “We decided to start a business that brings the latest in art, sneakers, and streetwear to our community.”
BAU-HŌUSE’s mission to foster connectivity and collaboration within Flint aligns with Rootless so the partnership just made sense, says Allen. “We love to partner with businesses who make a positive impact on the community.”
Rootless has done partnerships with local businesses including Flint Candle Co., and Flint City Hard Cider
, and is grateful to launch limited merch. “We believe in creating value through experience, and a limited, in-person-only launch is something we’ve always wanted to do,” Diener says.
Lee is a fan of Rootless Coffee’s blend No X in Espresso, as well as the company’s community engagement and partnership with local artists. “I ended up reaching out to Rootless via Instagram last year because we both share a love for coffee and community,” Lee says. Bau-Hōuse being a lifestyle retailer, it was only right to have a HŌUSE BLEND.”
Diener is also a big fan of the sneaker and streetwear store. “When BAU-HŌUSE announced they were opening in 2021, I freaked out a little bit. I’ve never seen a place as cool in downtown Flint,” he says. “When Lee approached us, we were both very excited. Plus, we get to live our limited drop dreams like we’re sneakerheads —but with coffee and merch.”
The launch, which takes place on April 14 at Flint Artwalk from 5 to 8 p.m., will include a new blend of specially-crafted coffee and a limited edition collaborative crewneck sweatshirt. Local artist Cameryn Lucia of Element Ceramics
designed a limited run of coffee mugs for the launch event, too. There will be a DJ, sweet treats, and a rollout of the limited inventory of coffee and crewnecks.
Promotional photo for Rootless Coffee Co. and BAU-HOUSE's limited-edition collaboration.
The crewneck design features a sand color with orange logos, representing creativity, freedom, and a simplistic, timeless feel. Diener adds that the importance of clean aesthetics in apparel is key. “No in-your-face comic artwork, just subtle, to-the-point, and timeless,” he says. “Plus, it’s printed on Champion so you know it’s incredible quality.”
As for the coffee blend, Lee says he let the professionals at Rootless do their magic. “I really love this roast,” Murray says. “It’s a blend of incredible coffees from Brazil and Peru with a medium body, and tasting notes of sweet molasses, chocolate, and nuts.”
Part of what makes this launch especially fun is the ‘had to be there’ nature of the in-person exclusive launch. “That’s what makes it special,” he says. “Just like Nikes dropping at midnight, or SUPREME dropping something wild, we’ve integrated this launch to happen during Flint Artwalk. If you’re seeing the incredible artwork and experiences at Buckham Gallery, Comma Bookstore, and Flint Trading Co., just walk down Buckham Alley, and this event is part of your adventure.”
“Everyone who loves special moments love feeling like they’re a part of those special moments,” Lee says. “Commemoration and feelings of inclusiveness are what limited edition runs are all about. Creating pieces to commemorate those moments gives people a tangible piece of history.”
Murray agrees that collecting unique limited-run items like the launch pieces can help to create a sense of community. “It keeps a youthful excitement alive which is so easy to lose in the stresses of day-to-day life. It’s inclusivity by exclusivity which is kind of an ironic concept. Two people walking around Flint in the crewneck who see each other might do the universal ‘head nod’ or even better yet, strike up a conversation. That’s what it’s all about; bringing people together.”
Both Rootless and BAU-HŌUSE hope this partnership blossoms into more collaborations together and encourages other fellow small businesses to work on fun joint concepts in art, coffee, fashion, and community.