Front line with a side of passion: Meghan Richardson on juggling essential work & a side gig launch

This is the first in a three-part series of small business employees from the front lines who are not only juggling working during times of social distancing and serving the public, but also launching or managing their own passion projects on the side.

Meghan Richardson of Live Oak Coffeehouse and Moon Macarons
In the days leading up to the shut down for a majority of Michigan businesses this March, Meghan Richardson describes the vibe at Live Oak Coffeehouse as eerie and silent in comparison to the café’s normal lively bustle. Richardson is also the assistant manager at Live Oak Coffeehouse in Midtown.

Richardson has worked at Live Oak in Midland since 2018 and is now the assistant manager. Since opening back up via drive-thru only, she has taken on quite a few shifts and though the current environment is different, she is certain it helps to provide customers with some sense of normalcy.

“I’m naturally a caretaker and I enjoy helping people. Seeing customers in the drive-thru has helped bring some normalcy and laughter back to daily life,” she says. “Some days I’ve dressed up and made it a theme day…one day was 80s, another day I was a train conductor. I’ve tried to make it fun for people, and for the café to be a happy place.”

“I didn’t realize until now how important it was for people to be able to get out of the house, see and talk to other people,” says Richardson. “In that aspect, my job is more than just coffee. I feel like I’m part barista, part open ear, part therapist.”

Richardson says she has made many new friends and realized the importance of having face time and connection with others.

“There were a hard couple of weeks and there were days where I was exhausted after my shift. But I was also incredibly fulfilled and I’ve made some new friends in the process,” she says.

Debating whether or not staying open for to-go orders was the right thing or not, Richardson says input from customers was what sealed the deal.  

“We received so many comments and messages of support, in the end, that was what made us decide to stay open in a limited capacity,” she says.

“We’ve worked hard to keep the team together, and we often do Zoom calls as a team, sometimes even during a shift for whoever is working or connecting to the Live Oak location in Bay City,” says Richardson. “We are looking out for our mental health too and making sure we take time to connect with one another.”

Meghan and her mom Jennifer started making macarons in the summer of 2019.

Live Oak isn’t Richardson’s only effort serving others, on top of a design business, about a year ago she tried her hand at making macarons, a personal dessert favorite.

“It was not long after I had moved out of parents house, I wanted to find a hobby that my mom and I could do together,” she says. “I’ve always loved macarons, cooking and baking and especially Parisian culture, so we gave it a shot. The first batch turned out bad, but after that we spent time working on it for a couple of weeks and started to get it down.”

In September 2019, Meghan and her mom Jennifer had a DBA and had booked a few parties and weddings to start with.

By September of last year, Meghan and her mom Jennifer had a DBA and had booked a few parties and weddings. Moon Macarons was born.

“I’ve always loved macarons, cooking and baking and especially Parisian culture, so we gave it a shot."

“It was so much fun coming up with recipes together,” she says. “We’ve always been super close and it was something fun we could do together once we were both out of work.”

Richardson had experience working at the farmers market helping out Creation Coffee in the past, and this season she got to thinking that one thing missing from the weekly selection was a dessert stand with small treats. With that, the mother daughter duo started at the Midland Area Farmers Market this spring, and have been selling out each week.

“I was not expecting it to take off like this,” says Richardson. “It has been wonderful to see the community support and great for my mom and I to do this together. It’s a way to put creativity into something we love and loving people while we do it.” 

“We’ve always been super close and it was something fun we could do together once we were both out of work."

Richardson says Live Oak and Ashman Loft owner Renee Deckrow has been a huge help in guiding the mother-daughter duo though starting a business.

“She has helped guide us through this process and it has been such a huge help. Our goal is to eventually be able to ship, which we’ve been getting an influx of questions about. We’d like to have a retail location and eventually a brick and mortar bakery shop and café long term.”

Meghan and Jennifer Richardson at the Midland Area Farmers Market in May.

A website for easier online ordering is also in the works and will help the duo keep up with demand.

“For now, I’m incredibly thankful for the support we received from the community,” says Richardson. “It’s been wonderful to have people support our small business and believe in us.”

You’ll find Meghan Richardson regularly at Live Oak Coffeehouse, through her design work and you can keep up with Moon Macarons for now on Facebook.

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Read more articles by Courtney Soule.

Courtney is a longtime Midland resident and enjoys telling the story of the community's evolution. She ran Catalyst Midland as the publication's managing editor from October 2017 through September 2020. Her favorite topics are interesting people, change makers, outdoor recreation and design. Aside from Catalyst, her published work can be found various places including Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog and a number of other websites, papers, menus and the occasional one-liner.