We had the good fortune of connecting with Derrick Engoy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derrick, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
My life’s work, as a writer, poet, pastor, and now coffee shop owner, helps the various communities I’m involved with in great ways. Whether it’s empowering others to serving the needs of the less fortunate, I’m constantly looking for ways to make lasting change in the lives that I have the honor of crossing paths with. The key word that’s the common denominator for all of the avenues that I tend to navigate through is: community. I love building and fostering space for human connection to happen. Honest and truthful human connection helps to unite bridges that, perhaps, have been fractured because of the various issues that have divided us. And, the more we can connect with one another, the more meaningful healing can take place. I’m on the leadership team of a poetry group in Long Beach, CA called The Definitive Soap Box. We host monthly Open Mic nights for poets and spoken word artists to, not only share their writing skills, but to develop a supportive network of other artists in an effort to stay inspired and motivated. All are welcomed and we’ve had a range of 50-100 people in attendance each month. The Definitive Soap Box is in its 12th year. I, unapologetically, love Jesus’ model of human care and, as a pastor I look for ways to follow his examples. In his words, I try “to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” In other words, I strive to live a life of grace, love, truth, and mercy. I aim to show God’s love to all no matter their background. And, being involved with a church in Culver City, CA, we constantly look for ways to serve our greater community through efforts like our Pop-Up Pantry, Thrift Store, and Laundry Love. In addition, as a future coffee shop owner, we’re looking to develop space for friends and neighbors to gather over a great cup of coffee. Outside of the coffee sphere, the shop will look for ways to host community groups in our outdoor space and encourage young family connections through our play space. The coffee shop will also look for ways to use part of its proceeds to financially support other local non-profits like after school literacy groups and city programs for the homeless. All that to say, as hectic as my life seems, the joy I get from seeing meaningful community develop keeps me going.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been writing and reciting Spoken Word poetry since 1995. I’ve performed in front of, both, small and large audiences. I’ve also hosted many Open Mic nights, including the group that I’m currently a part of. But the one aspect of my art that I’m most proud of is teaching the next generation of poets the craft of creative writing. I’ve taught creative writing in the continuation high school setting, as well as, through workshops and I get so much joy seeing younger folks maturate into seasoned writers. The challenge is convincing someone that they truly have creativity flowing inside of them and they just need to know how to release it. As a creative and influencer to other creatives, I’ve learned that patience with the process is extremely important. In the case of poetry, it sometimes takes a while for the concepts to develop. Poems don’t want to be forced. We, while writing, need to let the words flow and maturate. Similarly, seeing others come out of their creative shells takes time. There’s beauty in the waiting. One thing that I want others to know about me and what I do is that I long to see others become the best versions of themselves. We were all uniquely and wonderfully made. We weren’t meant to be carbon copies of other people. The world needs us to be who we were meant to be. It’s my desire to see others come into their own and make a great impact within their spheres of influence.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love coffee! And not corporate coffee that’s bitter and made with low quality beans. Coffee is like wine to me, so I love searching for the tasting notes of each roast. So, my travel itinerary would revolve around the best coffee shops in town. Specific to the greater Los Angeles area, I’d start off in the South Bay and visit Corridor Flow for a single origin batch. If espresso drinks are your thing, then I’d suggest their Spanish Latte. They’ve also partnered with Good Morning, Cactus (my wife’s plant stand, wink wink), so we can grab a succulent arrangement or a terrarium to decorate the house. And, since we’re in the South Bay, we can head over to R.A.T. Beach to breathe in the coastal air and, maybe, jump into the Pacific for a quick swim. For brunch, we can head to Bellflower, CA for some tangy Chilaquiles and Bacon Waffles at The Nest. They also serve amazing Cold Brew exclusively from Patria Coffee, so the morning is definitely complete. As the night begins to creep in, we’d head to Long Beach a grab a quick Oat Cortado from Steelhead Coffee before going to the Attic on Broadway for dinner. They have the best Mac N’ Cheese that’s sprinkled with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. You can even add short rib to complete the dish. Their Steak Frites are super mouthwatering. If it’s the season, we could also head up to Big Bear and get some early morning snowboarding at Snow Summit. I’d also recommend driving around L.A. looking for all of the Kobe murals.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate my Shoutout to my wife, Marissa, and my three boys. They are why I do what I do. Marissa kicks me in the butt whenever I stagnate. She encourages me to keep going and pushes me out of the house when I need a break and a breather if it means stirring my creative juices again. Her love and support to be the best version of myself is such a gift and it’s one of the reasons why I love her. My three boys are also why I keep going. If my hustle and hard work inspires and, eventually, empowers my sons to pursue their life’s passions, then the sweat is all worth it.
Linkedin: Derrick Engoy