You don’t want to mess with these mamas, or their business.
In late 2020, Catherine Willhoit and Kristin Karotkin opened The Hive in Hoboken. A coffee shop tailored to moms with small children, it includes a play area, retail shopping, in-house baked goods, and specialty coffee drinks.
Willhoit and Karotkin met at a group for new moms years ago and quickly became friends. They were also laid off from their jobs around the time they had kids, leading them to their new venture.
“I believe everything is a dot on the map of your life,” Willhoit says. “Everything connects you to what you need to do.”
Since opening, the women have introduced a Hive After Five evening event series, which includes Drag Queen Bingo. On weekend mornings, patrons can find a line down the block before the doors open at 8 am. Hoboken locals and visitors sacrifice sleeping late on weekends to wait for the Hive’s fresh homemade cinnamon buns, served only on Saturdays and Sundays.
For Pride Month this June, the Hive is raising money for the Hudson Pride Center. Customers can purchase paper hearts and add them to the Hive’s front window, where they will be displayed through the end of the month. For every heart purchased, the Hive matches the amount with a donation to the Hudson Pride Center.
“We have made a lot of new friendships,” Karotkin says. “It’s great to see such a mix of people who make up our Hive community,”
How did the two of you meet?
Catherine Willhoit: We both had babies at the same time, and we would go to this new mom support group in Hoboken. We found common ground there. One day I asked if anyone wanted to get a glass of wine, and seven women pulled up with their strollers, and Kristin was one of them. From there, we became really good friends.
How did the idea to go into business begin?
Kristin Karotkin: When our kids were super little, it was easy to tote them to happy hour or a coffee shop, but when they started to move around, it got to be more difficult. We both felt like there wasn’t a place that served both us and our kids.
CW: We started flirting with the idea of starting a place, but it felt so impossible. I remember one day we were in a coffee shop together, and Kristin turned to me and said, “What if we did this?” And I was like, “I guess we could!” The conversations went from being very fantastical to a little more serious.
You built something you needed, and Hoboken needed it, too.
KK: A lot of Hoboken is made up of young families and young children, so it is definitely something unique to Hoboken.
Your shop also sells some lifestyle products. Why did you decide to include those?
CW: A place called Indigo in the Short Hills Mall really rooted our decision to integrate retail into our coffee business model. What nicer way is there to spend your weekend than browsing cool products with a coffee in hand? We really focus on indie brands that are female-owned and minority-owned. It’s our way of supporting markets that are underserved in places like Amazon or Target.
Tell me about your baked goods.
KK: We wanted to have some home-based goodies and were really big into bringing a nostalgic feel. We have four homemade cookies, all made in-house: Chocolate chip, confetti, s’mores and brownie batter. It was almost a happy accident when our cinnamon rolls took off. We launched them in February, on the morning of a blizzard, and people were so pumped about them.
Do either of you have a favorite drink or treat from the Hive?
CW: I love our brownie batter cookie. I’m such a chocolate junkie, so that one speaks to my heart and soul. We launched a cereal milk latte that was meant to be just a novelty drink for March last year, but it is our most popular drink now behind regular lattes.
KK: Before Catherine and I even met, I had tried out hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes because those were always my favorite. As far as drinks go, I would say I love our salted caramel latte. It’s my go-to.
What’s new this summer?
CW: For drinks…a mint mojito, which is coffee-based and muddled with fresh mint and simple syrup. We’re also launching lemonade, which was a big one for us to develop.
KK: An espresso tonic, which is tonic, espresso and a little citrus.
CW: And the Hot Mama Latte! The team is so pumped about this one. It’s made with Mike’s Hot Honey and it’s not overly sweet or spicy. The team has been raving about them. It’s delicious!
Do you have a favorite moment from growing your business?
KK: We have so many regulars who are in the shop every day, so getting to form relationships with people is really cool. We now know so many people in the community in a different way than just being at school and stuff like that.
CW: We’ve become a little bit of a safe spot for new parents, especially those who want to fill the days with a newborn, or it’s their partner’s first day back at work and they’re a little nervous. We’ve also become a place for kids to come and do their homework after school. Our intention was to create a safe community for everyone who walks through the doors. Seeing that come to life is so gratifying.
Click here to leave a comment