SEAN AND AMBER MCCARTHY: FOUNDERS OF FIVE07
By Thea Holtlund Jacobsen Sean McCarthy and his wife, Amber, founded Five07, a community space and coffee bar in Thousand Oaks, and are now in the process of opening their second location. The couple grew up in the area—Sean graduated from Cal Lutheran University in 2015, and Amber attended Moorpark College. They proceeded to open Five07 in January 2018.
“Amber was actually in the process of transferring to Cal Lutheran right when we got our funding. So, she decided to put that on hold and focus on running this business,” Sean McCarthy said.
Prior to starting Five07, Sean worked in marketing and Amber was a Head Trainer at Lazy Dog Restaurant and also did bookkeeping. Together, they had the necessary skills to open Five07, which has grown to become an incredibly popular staple in the community, due in large part to the sense of community it has cultivated, and also to its unique-to-the-Conjeo-Valley operating hours.
Sean and Amber started Five07 together. The café now has 25 employees.
“Growing up in this area, there was nothing open past 8 p.m., so my senior year at Cal Lutheran I started working on different business ideas,” Sean McCarthy said. “Right around that time, when me and my wife started dating, we would travel to all these cool places like Denver, San Francisco and San Diego, which all have these cool coffee places… And that’s how we became passionate about coffee.”
Around the same time, McCarthy became more exposed to local art and local music, which were not very prevalent in the Conejo Valley.
“Second semester, senior year I took an entrepreneurial class at Cal Lutheran, where I started working more on my ideas. This is where I got a business plan roughly set,” Sean McCarthy said.
Following this, the McCarthys faced some hardships as they received rejection from investors and banks, but they never gave up. These obstacles ultimately led to where they are today.
Five07 has become a popular spot for students to hang out, whether it is for socializing or studying.
For young aspiring entrepreneurs, McCarthy said it is important to never give up. Going from having an idea to a finished space was a long process, and it can be demotivating at times. McCarthy said looking at the end goal in comparison to where you are at presently can be overwhelming, but breaking it down into smaller tasks and goals helps.
“Taking it one checkbox at a time was something I struggled with at first because I was only seeing the big picture. In hindsight, I would say the toughest part was being a couple of years into the process, and it still requiring 14-hour days to get there” McCarthy said. This is why it is important to never give up, McCarthy said, because you will get there eventually, but prepare for the process to be a marathon. It is also important to listen to what customers are saying while always staying true to your vision.
“Listen to what other people are saying, but know that it has to line up with the vision you have set for your business. Some people actually have genuine feedback that can be useful if it is part of your vision,” McCarthy said.
Sean McCarthy encourages all aspiring entrepreneurs to take the process of starting a business one step at a time.
Five07 has developed into more than just a café, with various community activities, such as “Open Mic Night,” which is the first Saturday of every month. McCarthy said events like these do not necessarily create profit on their own, but they help to support the brand. And the Five07 brand is definitely growing.
“We started with eight people on our team, and by the end of the year we had about 20 employees. The following summer we had about 34 employees, and now we’re back at 25, which is about where we should be,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he met their lawyer, who has been helping them throughout their journey, at Hub101. He has also visited the coworking space on several occasions. Michael Panesis, Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal Lutheran, is impressed with what McCarthy has accomplished.
“I have been to visit Sean and Amber at Five07, and I think the vibe they have there is really cool. The coffee is great, they obviously care a lot about what they do, and I love that they have incorporated art into the business,” Panesis said.
Through the mission of incorporating more than just coffee into their shop, Five07 has recently launched a clothing line.
Hub101 worker Hannah Brock said what she loves about Five07 is how it makes it easier for young people in the community to come together.
“Growing up in Thousand Oaks, there had never been a spot that was open later at night. Then Five07 opened, where you can not only hang out with friends, but also meet other people from the area,” Brock said.
McCarthy said he has several plans for the future. The couple just launched their first clothing line, where all the products are made from organic cotton and are locally produced. Furthermore, he said they want to expand, but not through regular franchising.
“Each space will have its own spirit and energy, so one will be, for example, just espresso, fine art and clothing, and then another one might be a larger space that can be used as a concert venue,” McCarthy said. “The idea is generally to just perpetuate creativity and community throughout Southern California.”
The best part, McCarthy said, is being able to take a step back and look at what they have created, and know that he played a part in making the community stronger and better, “one cappuccino at a time.”
Open Mic Nights have become popular happenings at Five07, with local talent coming to perform their work.