100 Coffees

Coffee #1: Ioana Holt

A brief conversation with Ioana Holt, Fairy, CEO & Pastry Chef of Rose&Basil about why she started Rose&Basil and the challenges she faced as a woman entrepreneur.

During the summer of 2016, I lived in the heart of East Village behind Tompkins Square Park, where I was drawn into Rose&Basil by its quiet atmosphere and whimsical interior. Rose&Basil had just opened three weeks prior, and this was where I first met Ioana (pronounced, in her words, “you wanna”). The store made for such a magical, “Alice-in-Wonderland” feel that I became curious about the mind behind the coffeeshop.

After coming back from studying abroad in the Netherlands, I came back and did a brief interview with her. From this, I learned more about the story behind Rose&Basil, her passion for quality, and her inner strength.

– Caroline


Photo Source: RoseBasil.com

Photo Source: RoseBasil.com

Can you tell me why you started Rose&Basil?

I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and in my mind, there was never a question of working for “the big guy.” I take initiative and I’m a perfectionist. I care a lot and I also get involved a lot. If I was working for someone else, I would probably not even be recognized. I like to pour myself—heart and soul—into the business and know that it’s mine. Whether I put 82 hours or 16 hours, I can see the progress being made.

I started Rose&Basil specifically because I have always wanted to make people happy, people enjoy coming here, and I want to create a feeling of home for them. Everything here is made with care and love.

What differentiates Rose&Basil from other businesses?

Flowers. I work a lot with flowers as both food and ingredients. Rose&Basil is very aesthetic, and we use organic and natural ingredients, while creating something that is considered indulgence. We care not just for the taste or the aesthetic of the food, but also its origin and how it makes people feel. It’s also a combination of bringing back something that we overlook these days in terms of a café.

What do cafés often overlook?

Other coffeeshops are very minimalist and very masculine. Rose&Basil is feminine. I want to express being a feminist and being a woman, and I never had a problem with this growing up in Romania. But moving to the United States, these things became a struggle, and I struggled with being strong and independent and being a woman. I love being a woman. This—Rose&Basil—is me figuring things out and be me without any apologies. I want to be 24 and be soft, sweet, feminine, and be myself, while also being strong. It’s so weird that you actually realize that you get questioned and are made to choose between a business owner and being a woman.

“This—Rose&Basil—is me figuring things out and be me without any apologies. I want to be 24 and be soft, sweet, feminine, and be myself, while also being strong.”

— Ioana Holt

I wanted Rose&Basil to go against the status quo. I wanted it to be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, to feel great, whimsical and magical, but also be of high quality. Everything is made with precision, care, and love, and everyone knows what they are doing and does it well.

What are the most popular items at Rose&Basil?

Online, there are a few things that people are crazy about, like the Chai Mix and Rose Jam. In store, the Breakfast Jars and our signature Rose&Basil Cake.

The popular Breakfast Jar Sampler featuring (from left to right): The Kiddo, The Mommy, The Hipster, and The Athlete jars The popular Breakfast Jar Sampler featuring (from left to right): The Kiddo, The Mommy, The Hipster, and The Athlete jars


For more details about Rose&Basil, see the following links:

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