Espress(o) Yourself: Dylan Capshaw and his guests get creative at Stemistry

Espress(o) Yourself: Dylan Capshaw and his guests get creative at Stemistry

By Claire Natale

Dylan Capshaw has always been passionate about flowers and coffee.

At age 11, in 2017, he started his first nonprofit, Capshaw Wildlife, to protect animals. As a result, the Capshaws had a variety of bushes, flowers and plants growing in their backyard to feed the rescued animals.

Two years later, he wanted to bring his coffee drink ideas to life, so he asked his parents for an espresso machine at 13. His parents agreed on one condition: He couldn’t drink it.

When the pandemic set in, Capshaw began selling flowers and plants online and unexpectedly the business took off. His creative marketing — tying lavender bunches, olive branches and other dried flowers as ways to support health, helped the business grow.

“Soon orders from around the country started coming in,” Capshaw recalls. “Our garage quickly became filled with flowers and plants, laid out in rows to be shipped.”

In two years, he boxed and shipped 10,000 orders. Capshaw saved his earnings with a goal of opening a coffee shop.

In 2020, Capshaw opened the Scottsdale’s Stemistry, a reimagined flower bar and coffee lab. While in chemistry class at Rancho Solano Preparatory School, Capshaw came up with the name, a combination of stems, flowers and coffee.

At Stemistry, customers design their own arrangements using a creative build-your-own bouquet bar. There, guests choose their flowers, pay by the stem, and then move to an easy design table where free supplies are available to craft a floral arrangement. There are also affordable, premade bouquets created by professional florists.

“A priority of mine has always been to offer affordable flowers,” Capshaw said.

“We source our flowers from three local floral distributors. I don’t see flowers as a luxury item, but rather a gift everyone can enjoy. We only mark them up minimally to stay profitable but also to keep our prices way lower than the surrounding flower shops. We also ship flowers worldwide, something the vast majority of flowers shops don’t do.”

The Coffee Lab embraces the floral backbone of the shop by infusing flowers like rose, lavender and sunflower into its drinks. The bestseller is the rose latte, which boasts rose extract and a rose petal topping.

Other drinks in this lineup include lavender, wild hibiscus and flower garden lattes. Most drinks are elaborately garnished with flowers, and each drink is served with a small bouquet.

After the success of the Scottsdale location, Capshaw longed to expand.

“Within a couple months of doing business I fully recouped my initial investment of getting Stemistry up and running, so I knew it was profitable. I waited until I had a really good team that I trusted in place, and I started looking at spaces available,” he says.

The second location, slated to open soon, is in the historic Heritage Square in Downtown Phoenix.

“Heritage Square felt like the calm in the storm, a piece of green history in a concrete jungle. It was special, and the history absolutely fascinated me,” he says.

But acquiring it was another hurdle. Because it is a historic area, the approval process was lengthy and difficult. But in October, Capshaw signed on the space in the Teeter-Carriage House. It is one of the buildings located on Block 14 of the original townsite of Phoenix dating back to the late 1800s. The Teeter-Carriage house was built in 1899 as the mule barn for the Bouvier-Teeter house.

Stemistry wants to honor the original settlers of Phoenix who lived at Heritage Square. The store will feature drinks renamed after the original property owners at the square. They have matched flavor profiles of each drink to their personalities.

Both Stemistry locations also offer a limited food menu with pastries and small bites. The Downtown location will have a few new offerings, including a picnic basket experience, which comes with a blanket, lattes, appetizers, and a candle if it’s at night.

At 16, Dylan is wise beyond his years and still learning about running a business. He chalks up his success to supporting the community, listening to input and feedback from his team and being ambitious.

“Something I’ve said since the day I started my business is why wait? If you have an idea, what are you waiting for?” he says.

“Sure, I was 11, but I had a phone at my fingertips and access to YouTube, which contained more than enough knowledge to teach myself the process of getting started. Nobody is going to push you to succeed, and anything you dream can happen if you put in the work.” 

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