Whether it’s on the basketball court or behind the barista bar, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler is determined to be the best. That’s why he has involved himself in every step of the process when creating his own coffee company, Bigface Brand.
“I want to be in every Zoom call, every meeting, on every sourcing trip, no matter where it is, anywhere around the world,” Butler said at the CNBC Small Business Playbook on Dec.14. “Just because I want to let people know, yes, my name is in it, on it, it’s a part of it, but I’m actually in it, I’m actually with it, I’m going to these places and I’m learning more and more every single day.”
Like many others at the peak of Covid-19 quarantine, the six-time NBA All Star said he found himself bored. With his newfound downtime, Butler decided to combine both his love of competition and coffee in creating his own coffee brand.
The brand began gaining traction when the NBA was forced to move its operations and games to Orlando to play its “bubble” season, where Butler found the coffee options unsatisfactory. Taking matters into his own hands, Butler started selling $20 cups of coffee to fellow NBA players, cups that he brewed himself with an espresso machine he brought to use in his Orlando hotel room, using beans from El Salvador.
“From when the [NBA] bubble started I wanted to be the best barista,” Butler said. “Now Bigface Brand, Bigface coffee is a real thing, and I’m just trying to get the best coffee and the best experience out to the world.”
Butler officially launched Bigface in October 2021 in a partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify and through its creator program. As a part of the program, Butler receives all profits, and Shopify is able to leverage the athlete’s name, image and likeness. Earlier this year, Shopify announced deals with six high school basketball players to help build their own direct-to-consumer brands.
Bigface currently offers four different blends of coffee, and a collaboration with coffee brand Onyx Coffee. The brand sells more than coffee beans — Bigface’s site also features apparel like hoodies, crewnecks and t-shirts, and accessories like coffee mugs and tumblers.
“Shopify really made my idea as an ecommerce [platform] make sense,” Butler said. “I had all of these different ideas and I didn’t know how to really bring it to life. … They made that transition legit flawless and everything looks so great. I was so comfortable in the way that our business model was moving along and I think they helped me to bring this entrepreneur idea to life.”
Butler said the idea for Bigface began as he saw the power of people bonding over cups of coffee. As the brand grows, he said he hopes to open Bigface cafes all over the world.
“That’s what this whole thing was built off of, is trying to bring individuals together, laughing and having a good time, no matter if you’re getting an iced coffee, hot coffee, cold coffee, cold brew, and sit down and have a conversation and realize how alike you are as individuals,” Butler said.
Butler’s advice for anyone interested in starting their own business: surround yourself with a team that pushes you to be the best, and don’t compare yourself to others.
“Just do what you do, remember why you’re doing it, stick to that, and success is literally on the other side of very, very hard, because it has been very, very hard,” Butler said. “But that’s the fun part of it, because nothing worth having is easy.”