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Megan Alfaro’s Journey from Selling Lemonade to Starting “Colorado Baby” Koolers Lifestyle Podcast #19

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00:00:00 Megan Alfaro
But you know, when you’re in high school and people are like, So what are you going to do when you graduate? You can’t, you can’t say like, I’m gonna. Move out of the country and get married? That just sounds kind of weird. So. I told people I was moving to Mexico to help my friend teach English because my now husband, he had a school down there where he taught English as a foreign language. Ah, cool. And so I was like, I’ll come down and help you run run your English school also knowing I would eventually get married to him. So I moved out of the country and I lived in Mexico for three years. I got married one year after moving down there. Umm. So two of the years I lived there we were married and. Started a family, had my first kid. And then we moved up here to Grand Junction. For different reasons, but we came here because we knew we had a foundation here and we wanted to get my husband’s. Legal paperwork taking care of so he could be a resident and then us and then we are like once that’s done we can go live anywhere in the US. And here we are still here.

00:01:16 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work, and serve through my business Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because Community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the Community. Fabric that our relationships make up, and collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth, and our health. Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn. Today I’m joined by Megan Alfaro, who’s the owner of Colorado baby out of Grand Junction Co Megan, thank you so much for joining us.

00:02:10 Megan Alfaro
Yeah. Thanks for having.

00:02:11 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Me, I understand that you were born and raised in Grand Junction.

00:02:16 Megan Alfaro
Yep, I am a Grand Junction native all the way.

00:02:20 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What was it like growing up?

00:02:23 Megan Alfaro
Um, well, I mean I don’t know any different, you know, sort of this is, this is home to me. I have a younger brother and my mom and dad. I actually recently bought my childhood home from my parents, so they moved into the house that I now live in when I was 2 1/2 years old and it’s just always been my home and very excited to. Continue having it be my home. Yeah, yeah. My brother and I grew up, went to all the local schools, grew up in the public school system, played Little League, you know, just like that. It’s kind of funny, though, like being a. Colorado native. You’d think that means I do all the Colorado things, but. I don’t know. We went camping. That’s a kid. We’d go camping and some skiing.

00:03:16 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Well, I’m curious, um, I would only imagine that Grand Junction has shifted quite a bit in population and and. Some of the dynamics to it when I was. 11 My family moved us from Chicago to a small town in Michigan, Traverse City. And to me at 11, it was just like overnight freedom, like small town. All of a sudden I had the entire town was Grand Junction. I mean this has to have been a smaller town. How much freedom did you have as a child? Just stayed exploring and cruise around?

00:03:53 Megan Alfaro
Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s hard to understand the size of a place when you’re a kid and it just seems it just is what it is. Yeah. But now it’s an adult. It’s like a ton of stuff has been built and it’s grown a lot. And I can point stuff out to my kids and be like I remember when that was a field and then I feel like an old man when I say that, you know, like this is this is weird to say these things, but. Where I lived I I grew up in Orchard Mesa and where we were at actually backed up to some BLM land. So my brother and I, well, my brother kind of did mostly me. I would go play back there. It was kind of by the Old Spanish Trail for people at her from this area. And I would just go play back in those hills as I called them all the time. I had a tree house back there. I just kind of lived back there. My parents actually have no idea how far I went. I would go really far and I had a had my dog I would take with me, but. I felt a lot of freedom. My parents gave me a lot of freedom. I’m sure part of that, too is just the time I grew up in. You know, they’d be like, you can go ride your bike, but you have to check back in in 30 minutes or 45 minutes. So I’d have those touch points with them. But yeah, I just kind of crawled all over the place near my house and I’m, I’m trying to remember that with my kids and extend that to them. To a degree, but I don’t know, it’s kind of a different world. Hey everybody, this is Luke from cooler garage doors. Just want to take a quick second to talk about our sponsor, Sommer.

00:05:32 Matthew Kuehlhorn
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00:05:34 Megan Alfaro
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00:05:40 Megan Alfaro
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00:05:43 Megan Alfaro
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00:05:51 Megan Alfaro
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00:06:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It is different. I get that it’s very different. Yeah, did you have you ever left Grand Junction?

00:06:18 Megan Alfaro
Yes, just like most kids that grew up here. And I think this, I don’t think this is just Grand Junction. I think it’s just in general, wherever you grow up, you’re like, I gotta get out of this place, you know, it’s the worst place ever. So I remember killing feeling that in high school, like I AM 11 and I am not coming back very free. So I moved all the way to Mexico and I moved there. Like a month after I graduated high school, I knew a guide, which is my husband, and I knew I was going to get married to him. But you know, when you’re in high school and people are like, So what are you going to do when you graduate? You can’t, you can’t say like, I’m gonna. Move out of the country and get married? That just sounds kind of weird. So. I told people I was moving to Mexico to help my friend teach English because my now husband, he had a school down there where he taught English as a foreign language. And so I was like, I’ll come down and help you run, run your English school also knowing I would eventually get married to him. So I moved out of the country and I lived in Mexico for three years. I got married one year after moving down there. Um. So two of the years I lived there we were married and. Started a family, had my first kid. And then we moved up here to Grand Junction. For different reasons, but we came here because we knew we had a foundation here and we wanted to get my husband’s. Legal paperwork taking care of so he could be a resident and then us and then we are like once that’s done we can go live anywhere in the US. And here we are, still here. It’s awesome in my childhood over and I have 0 regrets. I love it here, absolutely.

00:08:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Love. I love this story. Tell me about Colorado baby and how that was formed and a little bit about what the focus is.

00:08:26 Megan Alfaro
Yeah, so I. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I have started businesses, basically businesses. I use that term lightly. Basically since I came out of the womb I have been trying to sell things and so the first thing I remember was around the age of 4I, coloured on rocks and sold them as paperweights to my parents and neighbours. And these neighbors are still my neighbors. Like that’s that’s how cool my neighborhood is. It’s it’s basically like a modern day Mayberry at this point. But anyways, every year it was different things. So I did lemonade stands. I sold friendship bracelets. I sold pictures that I traced out of drawing books and colored on um. I sold pencils and notebooks. Like everything, anything and everything under the sun. Um, so that was that’s just kind of the way I was. I’m wired. So when I graduated high school, like I said, I moved down to Mexico. I helped my husband run his school. That again was scratching that itch of running a business. And then when we moved up here. Umm. I was about to have my second child and I used cloth diapers with my first and was planning on continuing to use them with my second son. And. I came up here. I was going to buy more cloth diapers. I bought some for my first son from the local diaper service that had diapered me as a baby. And they would. Sell their cloth diapers that could no longer be used in their diaper service. They’d sell them as rags. So I had bought them and used them as diapers for my first son because they were very affordable. Yeah. Ah. So I planned on doing that with the 2nd but. When we got here, we came to find out the diaper service had closed. They had retired. I was like, wow, so where do I buy diapers? And I couldn’t buy any locally. I had to order them online. So that’s when I was like, well, I ordered some. I used these modern cloth diapers and London and was like, wow, someone should sell these here locally. I’m going to figure out. How to set up a real business, you know, as an adult paying taxes in the US. And so I did that and I set up. What is now Colorado baby? At the time it had a different name and it was just cloth diapers and I would I took $250 cash, but I had leftover from our wedding a few years prior. I invested that in diapers, a Rubbermaid tote, and got set up legally and I would meet with people in their house. I would post on craigs List cause Facebook was not much of a thing at that time. So I’d post on Craigs list and meet with people, teach them about the diapers, and then hope and pray that they would order some from me and that they would take all that money from the sale of diapers and put it right back in so I could have more diapers to shell the next person. And I continued to do that over and over and about two years in, I decided. I don’t want to do it out of Rubbermaid totes and it had kind of moved into a a room in the apartment when we were living in at the time. I needed something more. So that’s when we. Got our first location that we were in for a couple of years. And I cash flowed up the whole way through and never took on any debt to do it because I did not. Want any debt in the process?

00:12:09 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What an iconic bootstrap story. I love it. I love it. I mean that’s just tenacity and and grit because I can only imagine stress. Yeah, right. Like I can. I started cooler garage doors without a dime and I just cut a deal. And at the very beginning of my journey it was house painting. So I cut a deal and took the deposit to get a tool and. Put some of the pieces in place and then it’s bootstrapping, right? Yeah. And it is grit. It is tenacious. And so how long ago did that start? How old is Colorado baby now?

00:12:49 Megan Alfaro
Yes, I started it in January 2008. Awesome. So. I puts about 15 years plus. Right. I don’t know. I think it’s between 14.

00:13:02 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Something times wild and then and then navigate a pandemic and. Continued madness.

00:13:09 Megan Alfaro
All the things, yes. All of the things.

00:13:12 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What would? So here’s a here’s a little bit more of a depth question. You recognizing that this is who you are, and I love that you’ve got a really great description of your story on your on your website. And. Whether it’s a young person that maybe catches wind of this conversation or you know, somebody that is even older that maybe hesitated but yet has this internal drive and and desire, what would you like people to know about pursuing dreams? And. You know maybe the cost of not pursuing versus the cost of pursuing like there’s a there’s a give and take there but. What would you tell somebody around just? Pursuing dreams and. Getting after it.

00:14:02 Megan Alfaro
Though yeah, here’s a lot pair. There’s this concept of. The principle of the path. And so the thought process is you know, if if you want to get. To point B from point A. You don’t just start walking aimlessly like you need to find a path. And follow that path and whether you. You choose a path or not. Even by not choosing a path, you are choosing a path because you’re going to end up somewhere, yes, it may just not be where you want to end up. So I made very, very intentional choices at young ages, you know, as a teenager, as a young person in my 20s, and made very intentional choices that continued me in the direction that I knew I wanted to go. Now, did I know that I wanted to own a baby store on Main Street? No, that was a it wasn’t that clear, but. I did. I would just say the main thing is like making very intentional choices about. Who you are and where you’re headed and. Because you’re you’re going to follow a path regardless. Yeah, you know you’re you’re headed somewhere and you don’t have to necessarily know where it is, but. The choices you make to day impact the choices or impact who you will be. Five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now. Um, so it really comes from. The core of who you are. So as far as like, follow your dreams, whatever, whatever that means. I think that’s more important to just know. I don’t know if it’s know who you are, but. Have some sort of grounding point. For me it was or it is my faith and. Just like really clinging to what the Bible and what I read in there. And so that to me is really like my center coin that I can follow from. And I think it’s really important to have something like that and I think it needs to be something. Outside of yourself, I don’t think we as people are dependable enough to. Follow her heart. I feel like that can be a very deceptive thing because. You can change overtime. I don’t know if that helps at all, but I just. And were really big about making very intentional choices.

00:16:46 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:16:46 Megan Alfaro
I love that. And things don’t just happen like. Like there’s got to be some intentionality behind.

00:16:52 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It. I love that. That goes into, I mean I think the way we connected was through some of your leadership work and you talk about intentionality and and there’s a communal aspect to being intentional about how we think forward for the design of downtown of where Grand Junction the community can play at large. Can you share some of the work that you’ve done with some of the community collaborations over the last few years and where that might be going?

00:17:27 Megan Alfaro
Yeah. When I. Started my business and really when I was a few years into it, I had no idea what I was doing. I mean, a lot of days I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I definitely had no clue what I was doing. I just mean I was. Kind of make them. Well, I was making stuff up the whole way, yeah. And I got plugged in with people along the way. And what, one of them was one of my vendors, and she was willing to sit down with me. One of the product shows, she sat down with me for an hour and she’s like, you can ask me any questions. And so I just asked her questions about like how she got to where she was with her business and. And different things like that. And it was so helpful to me. And then she did that one other time for me. She was passing through Colorado. I was in Denver, so we met up for coffee. Um, so I had that opportunity. I’ve had women do that in my life as far as motherhood goes. And I’ll. Just found that very very valuable. Very helpful to me and I. Couldn’t believe that these people invested that time in me. At no cost or anything. You know, like they just did this, like they just gave me their time. Um, and so, as I’ve continued to. Grow and mature in my own skill set. I’ve just like. Been like man, I wanna do that for someone else, you know, I want to give back whatever trendy term you want to use. Whatever. Gross. I just, I want to be able to be that for someone else. You know, like someone took time to invest in me and maybe they didn’t think much of it. And if I can do that for someone else, then I feel like it’s a a way of, I don’t know, I don’t owe anyone anything. It’s not repaying anything. It’s just continuing on with that same. Methodology. And so I’m very passionate about the downtown because it obviously impacts me directly having a retail business on Main Street and Grand Junction. Umm. But also I just feel like. These are my people, you know, there’s so many different avenues that you can put energy into, whether it’s into kids in college or kids in high school or fellow business owners or new moms or. Whatever, whatever the topic is. And so for me, what’s very relevant is the downtown and then women that are becoming moms, like new moms. Um, so the downtown. Has either hosted things or events have happened down here that are for. Business owners or people that are new to the business world. And so for me that was like, oh, I’ve a blonde. To participate and then some and. Help out or, you know, speak at these events if if it’s.

00:20:33 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Relevant. I love that. What are we excited about over the next few years? What do you see happening either either in downtown or Grand Junction community as a whole?

00:20:46 Megan Alfaro
Huh. I don’t know. I see there’s obviously a lot of growth happening here and there’s. At, you know, if you feel kinda iffy with it when you’re when you’re from here and you’re like oh, but I just love my little Grand Junction and. But growth is. It’s a good thing for business, but I also love the size of Grand Junction. I don’t know. I guess I’m. I’m just excited to see. What’s coming from the growth and? Just personally in my life, I’m sure the next few years are going to be changing a lot because I’ve got. Cancel that or my oldest is about to turn 17. He’s a junior this year in high school, so. I just imagine the flow of my life is going to change some. And your hand. I don’t know, I I. I’d like to continue to see the downtown thriving and growing and I think. I think it will. You know it it’s. I feel like it’s doing well. We’ve got some really good anchor businesses of restaurants down here, so. Umm. It’ll be interesting to see us. There are so many new people that have moved here and just kind of see where they settle and the new housing things that are happening in the downtown area and who that’s going to bring down here. Um. So yeah, I’m I’m cautiously optimistic with the growth of the area. I just hope that it’s. It’s done in a way that the. The town can sustain it well. But it doesn’t have negative.

00:22:29 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Impact. Yeah, I get that. I I fully recognize that from my hometown, Traverse City. It was a tourist based town and it grew a lot while I was there. Being in Gunnison for 20 plus years, you know I’ve seen this shift across the Western slope, right? And I think especially since COVID, we’ve seen an influx of people moving on to the Western slope in Grand Junction, Gunnison, all these small towns are. Getting a different um. It’s not better or worse, but there’s definitely a different type of individual coming from larger towns, larger cities, right? And they have different expectations, a little bit different culture. So that is going to influence us for better and for worse. There’s going to be a little bit of both, but you’re speaking into. Kind of collaboration, which leads me to my next question and from your perspective, how might businesses and community leaders work together even more for the greater good and have that intentionality around hurry, how do we grow?

00:23:32 Megan Alfaro
Yeah, I think there needs to. Will be now. Open dialogue between those two sectors and. Umm. To foster that collaboration a few years ago is actually right before 2020. So I think it was probably 2019. I was part of a. We unity. Task force thing. I don’t remember exactly what it was called, but it was for creating the. The new basically downtown Grand Junction. Planning book like what is downtown Grand Junction going to look like over the next X amount of years and I was really honored to be able to be a part of that group and speak into that and talk about what we want to see down here and. That whole life planning book hadn’t been touched since the 80s, wow. And so we were updating it from the 80s and it was just really, really cool to be on that because there was collaboration from. All sorts of different sectors. There were there were business owners from downtown, there were people from the college, there were people. From City Council like it was just. It was definitely people that would have an impact in the Community that were in there and speaking to what they wanted to see. And then 2020 happened, you know, and that kind of. Just railroaded a lot of things temporarily and so I’m hoping to see. More of that coming back into conversation and see the reality of. Um. A different ideas that we talked about during that collaboration see the reality of those come to fruition and that’s going to happen through. Again, continued conversations with City Council and with other business owners. And that’s, I mean, that’s just a trap as you can fall into. Just talking or complaining with other business owners and then. Things don’t happen like you’ve got to, not just. Have bicker amongst yourselves, you know, like you need to to do something like take it to more people, so. I don’t know. I think we just have to be really Cognizant to not get stuck in talking with each other, but talking outside of our scope with other people.

00:25:59 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, agreed. I think it can be so easy to get siloed. And yet there is the real opportunity, and the possibility gets created out of sometimes difficult, challenging conversations with multiple entities at the same table. Yeah. So I I appreciate that perspective. How might folks that want to get engaged either with you directly learn more about Colorado baby and potentially find ways of collaboration? How do people find Megan?

00:26:32 Megan Alfaro
Yeah, well, so we have a website Umm. So that’s one way to connect with the store and. Ultimately with me. Um, just sending me an e-mail. So Megan, Megan at Colorado B that comes directly to me. Our social media outlets, so specifically Instagram is where the were the most active. So if anybody messages me on Instagram it comes to me. I’m the one that gets so messages. So that would be.

00:27:09 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Another way what’s your handle on Instagram?

00:27:12 Megan Alfaro
Is it Colorado baby GJ cool.

00:27:16 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I will be sure to add these to to show notes and and encourage people to reach out as we wrap up. Megan, are there any? Any final thoughts or words whether it’s? Providing inspiration or just more generalized?

00:27:36 Megan Alfaro
Yeah. Well, one thing I’d say is personally I love to talk about business stuff. Owning a business, starting a business. Living debt free. I love leadership type stuff. I love to chat about obviously. Having children, I’ve got eight of my own. I homeschool. I’ll untucking with new moms, so I would say like all of those are very relevant topics and I love to chat with people and if they ever want to talk, I am more than happy to to interact about any of those topics and beyond. So yeah, I would just add that in there.

00:28:21 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that the amount of accomplishments that you have achieved as far as. A family. Business, I love the UM, I mean, it’s authenticity. And it’s also like an integration of knowing that you’ve been an entrepreneur all your life. For me, it took, it took a long time. I say I’m a late blooming entrepreneur because this is definitely who I am. But it took a long time to shed and we kind of realized that to myself. And I’m hearing just through your story and shares that it was pretty integrated all along the way. And and I think that’s really, really cool. I really appreciated this conversation. And thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for collaborating. I think the Grand Junction downtown is one of the most beautiful downtowns on the Western slope. I know that that’s a team effort on multiple, multiple fronts, so I really appreciate it.

00:29:18 Megan Alfaro
Yeah. Thanks for having.

00:29:20 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Absolutely. Megan, if you’re listening, don’t hesitate to reach out to Megan. Like I said, leadership, family, collaboration, that’s where she is all about. And again, Megan, thank you so much for your time today.

00:29:35 Megan Alfaro
Yeah, and you bet. Take care.

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