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Rachel Solomito filled the position of general manager at Rough Draft last month. Cal Abbo | Col­legian

Rachel Solomito ‘17 began working at Rough Draft in the summer of 2017. Last month, she became the general manager, seeking to advance its motto of “Coffee, cock­tails, and com­munity.”

Instead of leaving Hillsdale after grad­u­ation, she received a message from Carly Hubbard ‘16 offering a job at a new café called Rough Draft. As the school year began, she gained more hours and expe­rience as a barista, quickly becoming one of Rough Draft’s most trusted employees.

Hubbard opened Rough Draft with help from her family and managed the enter­prise until Solomito took over in January. Hubbard attributed Solomito’s success to her resource­fulness, reli­a­bility, and curiosity.

“She’s someone who shows up, does a great job, and asks ques­tions. She’s curious and always ready to grow and improve,” she said. “She has helped me learn how to be a good leader. Really, she’s just the whole package.”

On her first day as a freshman, Solomito met William Persson ‘17, who now works as Bon Appétit’s mar­keting coor­di­nator. “We both were shy freshmen and we wanted to talk to each other,” Persson said. “The only way I was able to ini­tiate contact with her was by saying, ‘Oh, I like your phone case.’ Then she needed help with Black­board, so we started talking. She told me later that she had only pre­tended not to know how it works so that we could talk more.”

Born in Indi­anapolis, Solomito learned about Hillsdale through family friends.

“I really landed here by accident. My entire story is just a bunch of happy acci­dents,” she said.

As an English major, Solomito saw herself as a cre­ative type. While at Hillsdale, she wrote for The Col­legian and planned on adding the jour­nalism minor until she dis­covered a passion for business. After grad­u­ation, Solomito con­sidered moving to Grand Rapids to work at a political con­sulting firm she had pre­vi­ously interned with.

“It’s not Wall Street,” Solomito said, studying the con­crete floors and exposed pipes lining the ceiling of the former tool factory. “I don’t need pol­itics, either. I’ve got coffee.”

Though Solomito said she loves business, it means much more to her than making money.

“In English, we studied how important rela­tion­ships and com­munity are,” she said. “For me, small business is exploring that rela­tionship with people, informing those rela­tion­ships, serving people, and learning who they are.”

Since they met in “Baby chem,” Persson and Solomito have remained close friends. Persson fre­quently visits Rough Draft and said he believes Solomito is a great fit for the position because of her cre­ativity and metic­ulous attention to detail.

“It’s the com­bi­nation of her being detail-ori­ented and cre­ative,” he said. “She’s very plan-ori­ented, reg­i­mented in her life. She makes lists for every­thing.”

Hubbard said she wants Rough Draft to serve as a training ground for Hillsdale grad­uates who want expe­rience running a business without the financial risk or hefty time com­mitment. She’s inter­viewing for work in San Fran­cisco and decided to put Solomito in charge.

“Carly left really big shoes to fill. She is the face of Rough Draft and did such a good job of cre­ating the place as it is today,” Solomito said. “I could never be Carly, but I def­i­nitely want to try and put my own spin on it, make it my own.”

Since she took over, Solomito rearranged Rough Draft’s entire front room. According to Hubbard, Solomito is working on menu updates and new latte flavors as well as more ways to engage the com­munity.

“From the very beginning, we wanted this to be a place that bridges the gap between the col­le­giate atmos­phere and the town itself. This building was part of the town long before we were ever here,” Solomito said. “Carly was someone who lived in town. She was from Hillsdale and she also was a student. She saw the need for a place that could host both.

“I still feel like a kid, so I don’t know what I’m doing running a business,” she said. “I was a little nervous everyone would be sad that Carly is leaving, but people have been really kind. I’m extremely grateful that Carly gave me this oppor­tunity.”