Woman Around Town: Jodi Richard—Renewable Energy

Jodi Richard can pull you a perfect shot of organic, fairly-traded espresso, provide hydro-therapy to an elderly dog in her state-of-the-art canine swimming pool, complete a triathlon, bake cookies for her two daughters’ school event, and deal with government agencies regarding city codes and the businesses she’s building. All in one week. Clearly, she also manufactures time, energy, and geniality!

Recently, I had phone conversation with Jodi, and in between talking business with me she would occasionally pause to guide one of her daughters, who was helping her bake. She had just finished a round of training in North Bend, Oregon for an upcoming race, and chuckled that it was good she’d eaten so much cookie dough today—she’d been advised to gain a few pounds to prepare for the cold waters of the Stockholm Archipelago. In September she’ll take a recess from her businesses to travel to Sweden, and run and swim in an intense race called O Till O.

I asked Jodi what happens when she isn’t crazy busy. Her answer: “Um. That doesn’t really happen.”

Though she’s looking forward to some quality time in the Hamptons this summer, she’s at work opening a new restaurant and bar near her TriBeCa coffee shop, RBC. Details are forthcoming, but considering her other endeavors, it’ll likely be a hit. RBC opened in January 2010, and already many aficionados are calling it the place to go for NYC’s finest coffee. I couldn’t resist asking her about the store’s much-talked-about “Slayer,” an $18,000, manual espresso machine of which fewer than 20 exist. She laughed, having expected this line of questioning, and described how its hand-operated functions allow her baristas to create distinctive flavors and textures in espresso. Her regular customers “follow” certain staff members—she says she can’t compete with her baristas’ espresso-pulling prowess—for their individual styles in crafting coffee. I made a mental note not only to savor a cup at RBC soon, but also to spend some time in its thoughtfully-designed space just to watch coffee-lovers in their particular brew-induced ecstasy.

Both a shrewd and compassionate businesswoman, Jodi’s excited to have been able to create RBC with a mind toward sustainability. She offers seasonal, local fruits, organic baked goods, and fair/direct trade and rainforest alliance-approved coffee beans. Roasters around the country regularly send Jodi samples of delicious, ethically cultivated beans to try on the shop’s Slayer. As Jodi points out, coffee is a commodity often at the forefront of the sustainability movement; she attributes that to coffee’s near-unanimous popularity and its propensity for growing under threatened rainforest canopies. Whatever the reasons, Jodi consciously capitalizes on them and does her part to guide positive, responsible movement in the industry.

Comparing Jodi’s two current businesses side to side, they’re vastly different; however, they’re both involved in soul-soothing services. A perfectly brewed espresso drink can warm the heart and provide a peaceful moment, but probably not quite as deeply as the family dog. In the same building as RBC, Jodi built a company called Water4Dogs. It’s the East Coast’s top facility by far for providing hydro-rehabilitation to aging or injured pooches.

When Jodi began college, she believed she would be a veterinarian. She would later seek other work instead, but the inclination was rekindled when her German shepherd was recovering form surgery in the late 1990s. The experience and her passion for animals inspired her to create Water4Dogs’ predecessor company. Today, Water4Dogs has a custom canine swimming pool—where you can choose to join your dog for a splash for fun or rehabilitation—two underwater treadmills for hydro-therapy, an obstacle course to build agility, and various other loving services for dogs. Jodi is involved with rescue efforts, and there are usually a couple of pooches up for adoption here too!

As a mother, wife, entrepreneur, animal therapist, athlete, and restaurateur, we can be left wondering how Jodi does it—and how to emulate her success. I asked her what advice she has for other New York women making their own way here. In today’s economic climate, many of us have left the safety of traditional jobs—willingly or reluctantly—and become entrepreneurs in some sense.

Jodi told me that she attributes much of what she built to collaboration. Each time she launches a business idea, she surrounds herself with people who know what they’re doing—and lets them do it. Because no one, not even Jodi, can do it all! She also advised us women to take advantage of being female entrepreneurs in NYC; relatively speaking, it’s a fantastic place to be one. There are so many resources at arm’s reach for women business owners, and one only needs to look for them. Personally, I’m inspired by Jodi’s lack of apprehension to dabble in diverse areas. From veterinary studies to degrees in English—she has a Masters of Arts in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University—she’s prevailed in fields as diverse as technical writing to canine therapy to expertise in fine coffees.

An inspiring Woman Around Town, Jodi has made a positive impact on NYC by building unique and unparalleled businesses, yet she finds the time to savor the city. You might catch her dining at Fatty Crab, a favorite with the family, checking in at Water4Dogs or RBC, or walking their two dogs in the West Village, but only if you’re quick—with family, training, and business demands, you know she’s got somewhere to be!

Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Dine: Morimoto’s Omakase Bar
Favorite Place to Shop: Gilt.com
Favorite New York Moment: Watching my good friend freak out when Hugh Jackman and his family sat at the table next to us at the Wildlife Conservation Society Explorer’s Party.
Favorite New York Sight: Running south at Hudson River Park and seeing the Statue of Liberty.
What You Love About New York: The amazing food just a walk away
What You Hate About New York: Stinky sewer grates