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Exploring Life & Business with Barythaya Lunsford of XO Coffee Shop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barythaya Lunsford.

Barythaya, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I got my start at Fallen Sparrow Tattoo Company in 2015. I was moral support for someone getting a tattoo. While I was there, I chatted with my (now) boss about how I’d always done art but was barred from pursuing it as a career option because of my parents. He handed me his tablet and told me I could doodle as I waited for the appointment to be over. At some point, I handed it back to him, and he mentioned that I had talent; he jokingly offered me an apprenticeship and I jokingly accepted. A few more offers and acceptances every time I came in, and eventually I decided to really come in. The rest is history. Now, just about six years later, I’ve grown my skill as both an Artist and Tattooer, and now I am opening a coffee business. I couldn’t be more grateful for such an experience to have changed my life the way it did.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Absolutely not. When it comes to tattooing, the industry is still one of the last lines of work that have a lot of tradition behind it. Going through an apprenticeship is similar to that of a hazing experience and can range anywhere (traditionally) from six months to three years. Every Tattooer’s origin story is different. I believe my struggle was comparable to most people going through an apprenticeship, but I do believe struggles are necessary to value success when you reach it; it builds character for sure! Some struggles I faced were not being paid during the time I was learning, the hazing process itself, and finding my place in the industry.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about XO Coffee Shop?
I got my start as a Tattoo Artist in the Central Florida area; and because of that, I found myself meeting hundreds of people from all walks of life. I continued to stay very busy because people seem to like my work, which I am eternally grateful for as well. Sometimes people don’t see the back end of being your own manager, so they don’t see the countless hours spent organizing, answering emails, having consultations in between appointments, etcetera. It takes a lot of time, effort, and focus to not become overwhelmed by it all. I’d spend time traveling to coffee shops just to sit and work on that part of my career and realized that there wasn’t a coffee location where I both work and live. The nearest craft coffee location was about 45 minutes away. I have always had a passion for coffee and business in general; I also needed and wanted a place for people to come together and enjoy a calm but familiar atmosphere. So, I decided to open a coffee shop! Although I am aware I’m currently known as a Tattooer in the Central Florida area, I do hope people come to know and love XO Coffee as well and can appreciate having a space in the Kissimmee area that welcomes everyone to sit down and enjoy a space that isn’t a franchise– which we have a lot of in this part of town.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
One important lesson I’ve come to learn is to always stay true to yourself. I’ve met hundreds of people along my journey and I believe we are all a little influenced by everyone, at least a little bit. It’s important that although people may tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, or what they instead would do– stay true to your gut. Your intuition never steers you wrong and if you have a passion or calling, you should pursue it. The worst thing that will happen is that it didn’t work out, but the best that might happen is you saw yourself through and it did in fact work out! It is very rewarding in the long run.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Billi Dallas for photo of self.

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