Entrepreneurship Alumni Spotlight: Caleb Tremaine and Clive’s Staples

Co-owners Caleb Tremaine and Ethan Hershberger stand in front of C.S. Lewis’s house in Oxford, England on May 24, 2022. Lewis was an inspiration to the shop, as well as to the owners personally.

In Sterling, Kansas, there is a space where coffee intersects with an enthusiasm for the works C.S. Lewis. That space is Clive’s Staples, a college-town coffee shop that was built from the ground up on the foundation of good coffee and a shared passion for everything C.S. Lewis.

Wedding catering origin story.

The coffee shop and bakery was started by Harding alumnus Caleb Tremiane ’16 and his two childhood friends Ethan Hershberger and Josiah Wagler. Tremaine said that by the time he returned to Sterling from Harding, the other two had “already started a coffee catering business, where they would set up espresso bars at weddings,” so when he approached them about the idea of starting a brick and mortar shop, they were all for it. In 2017, the trio officially began their less-than-typical coffee shop journey when they purchased what used to be an old pharmacy from their local historical preservation society.

The shell of the old five and dime sits littered with rubble on April 13, 2018. Over a period of a year and a half, Tremaine and his friends completely transformed the space into the coffee shop standing today.

Out with the old, in with the new.

The building was a five and dime drug store with a soda fountain back in the 1920s and 1930s, but Tremaine said that “it was turned into a typical pharmacy building in the 60s-70s, and they installed drop-ceiling and carpet to cover up some of the cool stuff from the 20s.”

To bring the space to life, the three friends pooled their skills. Tremaine’s mechanical engineering knowledge combined with Wagler’s work as an electrician and Hershberger’s experience as an h-vac specialist allowed them to build the shop without contracting out very much of the work, so over the span of a year-and-a-half, the three men worked on late nights and weekends stripping out the material from the 60s and 70s and keeping the valuable pieces from the 20s and 30s. A personal favorite artifact of Tremaine’s is the pastry case, which is an old marble display case from the drug store. To see more pictures of the store, visit their website at https://clivesstaples.com/.

The display case from the old drug store shined on Jan. 30, 2022. Clive’s Staples’ repurposing of old materials adds to the vintage and cozy aesthetic.

A love letter to Lewis fans everywhere.

Today, Clive’s Staples reaps the benefits of the hard work and sweat of its creators. It boasts a made-from-scratch bakery, premiere coffee from two regional roasters, and, as a recent addition, a plant shop, each of which make their home among the detailed C.S. Lewis decor. Tremaine said that the Narnia easter eggs include “a wardrobe in the corner, a painting of the Dawn Treader that opens up into a door to the kitchen, and the names of some of our drinks such as “The Snow Queen.”’ For the hardcore fans in the house, users can log onto the wifi using the password “ScrewtapeEmails,” and careful observers can pinpoint the store’s logo as the light post from “Lion Witch and the Wardrobe.”

The store enjoyed a moment of peace on Jan. 30, 2022. The secret window/painting of the Dawn Treader can be found on the bottom right, as well as the logo boasting the lamp post from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

An entrepreneur needs a creative outlet.

Thanks to this mere coffee shop, Tremaine scratches his entrepreneurial itch in ways his day job can’t. As a design engineer for agricultural equipment, the designs he works on are “very utilitarian, all about function and cost, and it doesn’t really matter what it looks like.” With Clive’s being more of a creative outlet, it has allowed the co-owner to “shove every little bucket list thing of projects that I’ve wanted to do into it,” and come up with something truly unique.

The buddy system works in business, too.

In Tremaine’s journey as a risk taker and business owner, there is one lesson that stands out above the rest, and that is to avoid going it alone. He emphasized finding “someone to do it with you that you have a lot of history with and that you trust, because it’s a lot to do by yourself. It could be with your spouse or with a friend, but having a partner makes it a lot more doable.”

If you’re ever in Sterling, Kansas, go give this cozy coffee shop a visit, and be sure to give it a follow on Instagram at @clives_staples or visit their website at https://clivesstaples.com/

The Brek Boss Cooking It Up With The Community

Courtney Eby and Abbigale Reece repping their Brek Boss shirts on Sept. 24, 2022.
The partners work hard to promote their business and feed their community.

The heartbeat of Harding University is the community. Recently, a duo of hard-working entrepreneurs has married their love for baking with their love for bringing that community together. The result is a breakfast bakery start-up called The Brek Boss.

Co-owners Abbigale Reece and Courtney Eby met as Bible majors their freshman year, both passionate about spreading the gospel. As time passed, they realized they could minister to people in a unique, less traditional way.

Reece said, “after I did a ministry internship, I realized that I wasn’t interested in being involved with ministry inside of a church building. Courtney came to me with an opportunity to start a baking shop after that internship, and it all made sense to me that this was the direction that I needed to go in.”

Daniela Jacobo and Hanna Grace Garner serve up Boss Rolls in the Waldron Center on Sept. 13, 2022.

The two entrepreneurs eventually convened at Midnight Oil coffee shop to discuss their dreams and goals for the future, each bringing their unique skill sets to the table. Eby remembered sitting at MO for hours as the pair “researched and developed name ideas and vision and looked at many menus of restaurants and businesses.”

Reece had already switched majors to marketing, so the skills she was developing in her education, combined with her interest in making coffee, were perfect for starting the small venture. “I designed the primary and secondary logo, which was super fun because I got to include my love for coffee and Courtney’s love for baking to make a combined aesthetic,” said Reece. With her on the marketing side of things, Eby had the creative space to draw people in with a product. A talented baker can do it all, and Eby played to her strengths in the kitchen to make the business thrive.

On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, the duo officially set up shop for the first time in the Waldron Center. Eby brought three massive pans full of three different flavored cinnamon rolls: classic, maple bacon and pumpkin spice.

Students came in droves to try the appropriately named Boss Rolls, making the small office space come alive with conversation. Senior finance major Johnny Galloway said that “it was really convenient to go to the Waldron Center after chapel and try out a fellow student’s product, so there were a lot of people fellowshipping there before class.”

The Boss Rolls shine with pristine icing on Sept. 13, 2022.
The Maple Bacon was a cult favorite among students.

After the success of their partnership with the Waldron Center, the co-owners look to a bright future. “Right now we’re doing small scale launches on Tuesdays, but we hope to eventually be able to open up weekend preorders, give out samples after chapel, and do booths in the Stu,” Eby said.

Reece and Eby’s long term plan is a food truck on campus, and then eventually to go brick and mortar. Once a food truck is secured, the menu-scope will expand to include coffee, breakfast sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and authentic Belgian waffles. Eby said, “we want to make picnic tables and a fire pit by the truck and make it its own environment, and we hope to use that outdoor space to host events and live performances.”

Students support The Brek Boss on Sept. 13, 2022.
The Waldron Center was filled with warm conversation and gooey cinnamon rolls.

With lofty goals on the horizon, it can be easy for a small business to fall victim to obsession over success and growth, but The Brek Boss consistently referred back to a focus on community to center their vision. “Courtney and I just want to make something that is unique and that serves the community,” Reece said. “My goal would be to use what skill I’ve already developed to attract people, whether they are our age or not, to our business.”

Eby and Reece declared that The Brek Boss’s “why” isn’t for “money, fame or fortune.” Instead, it stands for a deeper desire to empower the people they feed through service and kindness. The Brek Boss is about two women who want to bring people to come as they are to the table, a table that just happens to be filled with warm, gooey cinnamon rolls.

You can follow The Brek Boss on Instagram at @thebrekboss for news and updates about future pop-up offerings.

The Waldron Center is interested in telling your start-up story. Know someone we need to write about? We’d love to hear from you. Email huwaldroncenter@harding.edu.