One of the reasons I do these interviews and write these posts is becuase I believe that the more people see that there are tons of small business owners across the country who are using their values to run their business, the more they will believe that they are able to do the same.
The second reason is because I want every person who reads these stories to know that out of all of the people across the country who are using their values to run a business, none of them are exactly the same. This is the reason that every interview is exactly the same set of questions - I’ve interviewed about 50 people so far and no one has had the exact same answer to any question except “What was the last book you read?” (and that one has only happened a couple of times…)
There is something else that has only come up one time so far - an entrepreneur who is running not just one, but TWO values-based businesses! And so enters Mariah Goelz. Mariah co-runs both Southern Roots Filling Station and Cultivate Jax. On the surface, these seem like two very different businesses - and like it could be incredibly fragmenting and exhausting to run them both.
But, once you get to know Mariah and read some of her story - you will see that they both come from the same values: family, community; environmentally better; safe; and healthy… That’s one of the reasons I love this interview so much - this is perfect proof that you might have the exact same values as me or someone else and choose to run a completely different business to promote them!
I haven’t yet met Mariah in person, but I’m looking forward to it happening sooner rather than later. Naturally I’m also SUPER looking forward to checking out her shop - Cultivate Jax - I already know it’s going to be one of my favorite “home goods” stores!! <3
Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it?
Southern Roots Filling Station began from the desire to offer our community plant-based, organic, and gluten-free foods as well as delicious coffee. We serve a diverse group of individuals in the Riverside area. Our brick and mortar opened in 2014, but I founded my business in 2011 when I moved back to Jacksonville. I co-own our cafe with my husband and I run the food program at our shop.
Cultivate Jax began in 2016 with my mom. We opened with the intention of creating a community space, committed to items made in the US for the garden, home, and child. We host classes ranging from embroidery to cooking, gardening to nature-based play.
Why did you start your business?
I started Southern Roots because I felt there was a need for healthy, affordable, locally sourced food. I am passionate about supporting other small business and local farms. My husband is from Miami and passionate about the coffee culture there. It was his goal to pair our food program with our coffee program to offer a unique cafe experience.
Cultivate started after I had my son and my mom and I found it difficult to find US made clothes, eco-toys, and a gathering place for families. We are also passionate about growing food and sharing that knowledge.
What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you?
Social Good Business to me means being committed to doing good - be it in the items you sell, the products you buy, and the way in which you conduct business (with vendors, customers, and employees).
What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?
I love the community that we have found from these shops. To me, they are a beacon for like-minded individuals to come and for everyone to feel welcome. I love being able to highlight local farms and help people become more familiar with what eating seasonally really looks like.
What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?
Balance. It is hard to clock out. Having a child, a partner, and a business is a lot to juggle. Finding time for myself for exercise, socializing, and just simple self care rituals often gets put on the back-burner.
What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
To create a more successful business. We jumped in head first 4 years ago, working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, and we have never been good at the systems part of it. I hope to become a better employer and possibly open a few more locations.
Everyone deserves access to Southern Roots!
In 5 years, I hope to be living abroad with my family :)
Who are your business icons, heroines or mentors?
My family. My grandfather started a successful industrial valve company 40+ years ago that my dad, uncles, cousins, and brother still work for. His commitment to honest business is something I value. In college, my mom had a health food store and I really valued the relationships that came from that shop. So many employees that worked there are still best friends to this day.
What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business?
Live them and embrace them fully. We have gotten a bad review before because they said we have propaganda up at the shop and to be honest, that review doesn't bother me. We try to not be political, but we stand up for what we believe in about compassion, equality, and justice for all people.
What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?
I haven't attended many, but I attended the Vegan SEED Summit in LA, which was rad and I am a big fan of any herbal conference in the Southeast.
What is the last book you read?