After almost 18 years at a job she loved, working with co-workers and customers she considered family at Glen Rose Transportation Management, T.J. Sims took a leap of faith last year. She walked into work one day and announced she had purchased a piece of commercial property on U.S. Highway 67 and planned to open a coffee shop.
T.J. and her husband Clint began the process of renovating the small white building across the highway from Brookshire's into the shop where she plans to live out the dream of serving up coffee and blessings to a community she loves.
The Happy Hippo, located at 608 Southwest Big Bend Trail, opened Feb. 4. Ten days later, T.J. spoke with the Reporter as customers - some who said they have already made a daily habit of the Happy Hippo - lined up for their morning mocha.
Before her plans of becoming an entrepreneur began to come together last year, T.J. first experienced an affirmation of faith.
It all started when her husband asked what she would do with her life if she could do anything.
"I told him I wanted to serve coffee and blessings in my own coffee shop," T.J. said. "And name it after the purple hippo that is perfectly happy in her own skin, just dancing around."
1- What inspired you to open a coffee shop?
It's a comfort thing. When you look at a tea room or coffee shop, you usually see people sitting around a table, sipping on their drink and visiting. Beth Moore (an evangelist) says there are three things she has to have every morning - God, coffee and her Bible.
2 - You believe opening the Hippo was predestined?
About two or three years ago, a preacher was visiting our church. He asked if anyone wanted to step out in faith, I did. The preacher's daughter prophesied over me - actually there were two of us, me and another lady. The preacher's daughter said 'I see a business and your future, it's purple and God's going to bless it.' At the time, I didn't know she was talking to me, but I commented that I love purple.
3 - Do you believe the business has been blessed?
I had idea no God was going to knock down doors like He did. My husband came home one day - our place was about to be paid off - and he said we needed to buy something so we can retire, and I freaked out. I told him I wanted to retire on those 92 acres with our grape and plum trees and cows. But in about two weeks we found a smaller place. We put in a bid and it was accepted, and I went into meltdown. I asked if we were looking at retirement, why not buy a commercial building on (Highway) 67. We prayed for God to bless or block the idea, and it was accepted. I found the building. From the moment I told my co-workers I had bought the building, it was obvious God had his hands in it.
4 - Explain God's role.
When I walked into work that day with the news, a guy who I had previously worked with owned a coffee shop and offered to help. When we bought the building, it was nothing but cinder block walls. There was a lot of work to do - we practically gutted the place. My husband I were both working full-time and could only come in some evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays. Thanks to a lot of help from family and friends, we got the work done. They laid tile and hung sheetrock, they had the skills and offered to help. A guy who had just moved to town from Austin, a general contractor, also offered assistance. When Captain Jack's went out of business, there were our table and chairs. I feel like the whole community - working through God - has played a big part in this.