When Mike Hill founded Huntington Beach-based AoSA Image six years ago, his mission was to lift the print and fabrication industry to a level of responsible and sustainable practices. Flash forward four years to the company spawning a retail space with a similar mission and name. Now, the AoSA Project has another venture at hand with the hope of further hugging the community in close: a coffee shop.
The Art of Sustainable Actions umbrella encompasses eco-friendly, sustainable materials and partner companies with parallel pursuits. Using reclaimed and recycled materials, Image prints signs and displays using water-based inks for companies like TOMS and Hurley, decreasing waste and increasing eco-awareness. The warehouse, which also prides itself on sustainable woodworking—think every man's trash is another man's treasure—sits tucked away behind Project, which shines as the conscious-consumption face of AoSA at Huntington Harbour Mall. Brands with give-back and socially-conscious initiatives line the shelves and racks, including TOMS, OBEY Clothing, Krochet Kids International and 31 Bits.
Already playing host to monthly events and charitable functions, Project has decided to expand its community reach by serving coffee. But it's not just any coffee. The lucky purveyor had to meet a strict set of requirements to caffeinate Project-goers, and Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters made the cut. "They passed with flying colors," says Lindsey Kurowski, Image's director of marketing. A community-focused brand, Stumptown sources quality coffee from all over the world under direct trade and fair trade practices. It's also backed by its fair share of fiending fans.
A complete coffee shop mirroring the same charming rustic chic style of the boutique will be constructed behind the retail and warehouse space and will open mid-October. Given that "the entire store is built out of garbage," according to Kurowski, we can only imagine what trashed gems will be reincarnated as table tops, lounge seating and inspiring art installations. Accompanying the dark brews will likely be teas from a to-be-determined vendor, along with housemade and local snacks and a possible fresh juice delivery service. Kurowski says vegan options are a definite, noting a strong interest in The Donuttery on Beach. Cafe doors will tentatively open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. daily. For those pining for a taste of Stumptown pre-launch, fear not. Blends will be poured starting in about two weeks at a coffee cart outside the shop. We'll update you once the cart rolls up.
Aside from the cafe build, the crafty AoSA team plans to fabricate wooden tables and chairs for an outdoor patio in front of Project, transforming not only its exterior into a communal space, but also that of neighbors VegiLicious and Bowl of Heaven. "We're all friends," says Kurowski. "We're all in it together. The dream is to make the Huntington Harbour a cool place to be" by meeting both the younger and older demographics in the middle.
Project will continue to host its regular events, including a monthly open mic night, but in order to be "a coffee shop with a jetpack and a social mission," Kurowski says the events calendar will expand with the community's input. That's right, Huntington Beach. The AoSA Project wants to hear from you. The team will soon be accepting suggestions via email on what to serve up, in terms of edibles and drinkables, nonprofit partners as well as entertainment. We'll update this story with contact information once it becomes available.
Along with the coffee shop and outdoor communal space construction, Project has also focused its efforts on clearing out its inventory. Prices on apparel and accessories are now at cost. Many of the brands will return to the retail shop, which will transition into a junior version of its current self. TOMS footwear will stay, along with some alternative apparel and accessories. The shift from retail-oriented to social elevates Project to a whole new give-back platform, and guess what: "This whole thing is for you guys," says Kurowski.
UPDATE, December 18: The cafe's opening date has been pushed to mid-January 2014.
AoSA Project is located at 16821 Algonquin Street, #104, in Huntington Beach, 714-377-2672. Current hours are Tuesday through Friday 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.