LM WOMAN / ALLY WALSH



LM WOMAN / ALLY WALSH

With a lifestyle that folds in career, home and family life, Ally Walsh seems to combine it all in a seamless blend of LA ease. She understands the hard work and commitment required to build a successful and distinctive coffee brand and, with her partner Casey ( in business and life) she drives Canyon Coffee to new creative and commercial heights.  She is realistic enough recognise the necessity (and learnings) from failure and optimistic enough to see the sheer potential of what their brand can achieve. Oh, and she has a new baby, Sonny! 



LM WOMAN / ALLY WALSH

With a lifestyle that folds in career, home and family life, Ally Walsh seems to combine it all in a seamless blend of LA ease. She understands the hard work and commitment required to build a successful and distinctive coffee brand and, with her partner Casey ( in business and life) she drives Canyon Coffee to new creative and commercial heights.  She is realistic enough recognise the necessity (and learnings) from failure and optimistic enough to see the sheer potential of what their brand can achieve. Oh, and she has a new baby, Sonny! 


Ally wears the LM Classic Shirt and Lambert Pant.

Ally wears the LM Classic Shirt and Lambert Pant.


I love that you have tuned into a sensibility that celebrates the experience of coffee including the way the product is packaged. Was getting that aspect right defining of the brand and was it hard to nail it?

 

Looking back, I couldn’t imagine another design for our brand and packaging. But when we created Canyon Coffee in 2016, we were torn between two concepts proposed by our friend and designer, Fred L’Ami. We wound up borrowing a few elements from both to make the final design.

 

Our goal was to make something that would look nice on your kitchen counter and bring a special feeling to the coffee-making ritual. We wanted it to feel refined, but warm. I will say, making the second version of the Canyon Coffee bag has been harder and taken much longer than creating the first (four years)! I wanted to have all the elements that made the first bag special, but we also wanted it to be an evolution; more eco-friendly, and more streamlined to produce. It comes out in August 2022!



I love that you have tuned into a sensibility that celebrates the experience of coffee including the way the product is packaged. Was getting that aspect right defining of the brand and was it hard to nail it?

 

Looking back, I couldn’t imagine another design for our brand and packaging. But when we created Canyon Coffee in 2016, we were torn between two concepts proposed by our friend and designer, Fred L’Ami. We wound up borrowing a few elements from both to make the final design.

 

Our goal was to make something that would look nice on your kitchen counter and bring a special feeling to the coffee-making ritual. We wanted it to feel refined, but warm. I will say, making the second version of the Canyon Coffee bag has been harder and taken much longer than creating the first (four years)! I wanted to have all the elements that made the first bag special, but we also wanted it to be an evolution; more eco-friendly, and more streamlined to produce. It comes out in August 2022!



There is a feminine feel to the brand and how it expresses itself. Can you put your finger on why that is and how it helps differentiates Canyon Coffee from the rest?

 

Back when we started Canyon, we felt there was a lot of masculinity in the coffee world. It’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that culture, it just didn’t speak to us and how we defined coffee. To us, coffee is warm and special. We wanted our coffee and brand to reflect those feelings.

 

As creative director, I am able to bring a more feminine approach. I think the imagery we use goes a long way to capture this feeling. With Casey as my life and business partner, there’s an inherent feeling of warmth because we’ve been building everything together. And finally, sharing these feelings, especially how coffee makes us feel, has been our goal.

 

 

What is the biggest compliment the brand has ever had?

 

On paper, being called “The Best Instant Coffee” by the New York Times’ Wirecutter is a great honour, and it was so unexpected. But the best compliments to receive come from customers for whom our coffee adds something special to their days, or who we’ve somehow inspired. They often come as simple emails to our inbox or DMs and they are the greatest motivation for us to keep doing what we’re doing. 




There is a feminine feel to the brand and how it expresses itself. Can you put your finger on why that is and how it helps differentiates Canyon Coffee from the rest?

 

Back when we started Canyon, we felt there was a lot of masculinity in the coffee world. It’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that culture, it just didn’t speak to us and how we defined coffee. To us, coffee is warm and special. We wanted our coffee and brand to reflect those feelings.

 

As creative director, I am able to bring a more feminine approach. I think the imagery we use goes a long way to capture this feeling. With Casey as my life and business partner, there’s an inherent feeling of warmth because we’ve been building everything together. And finally, sharing these feelings, especially how coffee makes us feel, has been our goal.

 

 

What is the biggest compliment the brand has ever had?

 

On paper, being called “The Best Instant Coffee” by the New York Times’ Wirecutter is a great honour, and it was so unexpected. But the best compliments to receive come from customers for whom our coffee adds something special to their days, or who we’ve somehow inspired. They often come as simple emails to our inbox or DMs and they are the greatest motivation for us to keep doing what we’re doing. 




I like that you draw on reference from Sea Ranch, Donald Judd and Georgia O'Keeffee. What is it about their work that appeals to you?

 

I think some throughlines of those three references, when it comes to design, are that they all convey a simplicity that’s about warm (rather than austerity), and they all are (or were) intimately connected to the landscapes and terrains that surrounded them. I think that is a big part of why they feel so special and beautiful. Visiting the homes of Judd and O’Keeffe always inspires me to simplify my environment while keeping focus on objects I love, and on pieces we build.

 

As they relate to Canyon, we strive to share and encourage the kind of creativity of these people and their spaces. And in our brand and packaging, we sought to incorporate that warmth and simplicity.




I like that you draw on reference from Sea Ranch, Donald Judd and Georgia O'Keeffee. What is it about their work that appeals to you?

 

I think some throughlines of those three references, when it comes to design, are that they all convey a simplicity that’s about warm (rather than austerity), and they all are (or were) intimately connected to the landscapes and terrains that surrounded them. I think that is a big part of why they feel so special and beautiful. Visiting the homes of Judd and O’Keeffe always inspires me to simplify my environment while keeping focus on objects I love, and on pieces we build.

 

As they relate to Canyon, we strive to share and encourage the kind of creativity of these people and their spaces. And in our brand and packaging, we sought to incorporate that warmth and simplicity.



What matters to you most in your personal space and how would you describe your home?

 

Reflecting on our current and past homes, I think some of the key ingredients have always been abundant natural light, wood floors and furniture, lots of books, soft lighting, and a relatively neutral palette to let plants, art and textiles be the focal points. We love being able to have all the windows and doors open. We like interspersing our own furniture (desks and tables) with vintage and designer pieces.

 

The goal for me is to have a space that’s ultimately calm and relaxing. A place to rest but also to be inspired.

 

 

What's the last significant thing you bought?

 

It wasn’t one “thing,” but I recently landscaped our backyard! We brought in a lot of native, drought-tolerant Californian and pollinator-friendly plants, installed some greywater systems to reuse water, and put in a small plot of no-mow grass for Sonny to have a yard to play in. Although of course he prefers crawling around in the gravel…



Ally wears the Didion Dress.


What matters to you most in your personal space and how would you describe your home?

 

Reflecting on our current and past homes, I think some of the key ingredients have always been abundant natural light, wood floors and furniture, lots of books, soft lighting, and a relatively neutral palette to let plants, art and textiles be the focal points. We love being able to have all the windows and doors open. We like interspersing our own furniture (desks and tables) with vintage and designer pieces.

 

The goal for me is to have a space that’s ultimately calm and relaxing. A place to rest but also to be inspired.

 

 

What's the last significant thing you bought?

 

It wasn’t one “thing,” but I recently landscaped our backyard! We brought in a lot of native, drought-tolerant Californian and pollinator-friendly plants, installed some greywater systems to reuse water, and put in a small plot of no-mow grass for Sonny to have a yard to play in. Although of course he prefers crawling around in the gravel…


Ally wears the Didion Dress.


Ally wears the Didion Dress.


With a new baby, time becomes very different. How do you organise your working day? Where and when do you find you are most productive?

 

It really does take a village! We don’t have any family in LA to help, and I feel so lucky to have two wonderful women who help out during the week. They’re so incredible and loving with Sonny.

 

On days without help, there’s a bit of juggling. It’s led me to be much more focused and productive in the shorter bouts of time I have, and sometimes, it also means using time that used to be “outside of work” — like night-time and weekends. But we still do our best to have time where we’re both turned off from work.



With all the challenges of building a business, how do you manage to switch off?

 

The importance of turning off is something Casey and I learned probably within a year of starting Canyon — being able to not think or talk about work — for our sanity!

 

With Sonny in the picture, “switching off” takes new meaning as time when he’s asleep or with a babysitter, and in those moments even simple things like dinner, a glass of wine or watching a show take on an added quality of relaxation.



With a new baby, time becomes very different. How do you organise your working day? Where and when do you find you are most productive?

 

It really does take a village! We don’t have any family in LA to help, and I feel so lucky to have two wonderful women who help out during the week. They’re so incredible and loving with Sonny.

 

On days without help, there’s a bit of juggling. It’s led me to be much more focused and productive in the shorter bouts of time I have, and sometimes, it also means using time that used to be “outside of work” — like night-time and weekends. But we still do our best to have time where we’re both turned off from work.



With all the challenges of building a business, how do you manage to switch off?

 

The importance of turning off is something Casey and I learned probably within a year of starting Canyon — being able to not think or talk about work — for our sanity!

 

With Sonny in the picture, “switching off” takes new meaning as time when he’s asleep or with a babysitter, and in those moments even simple things like dinner, a glass of wine or watching a show take on an added quality of relaxation.



What are you reading at present and would you recommend it?

 

I’m reading Everything Now by Rosecrans Baldwin, which is all about Los Angeles. I definitely recommend it. I really enjoy his writing style, and the montage-like approach of the book is such an ingenious and proper way to portray how unique, shifting and large this “city-state” of Los Angeles is.

 

 

There is a saying that if you haven't experienced failure you are not trying hard enough. What's been your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

 

I’d agree that failure is a natural part of life, and definitely a part of growing your own business. Both involve taking risks. But I think most failures are small, subtle, and even slowly occurring over time — rather than big, blockbuster failures.

 

I think with Canyon, we’ve been able to avoid big failures so far by keeping a learner’s mindset — knowing that we don’t know everything — and only taking risks we feel are appropriate for our size and experience. While using data, we always try to go with our gut, and say no to a lot of things (including both internal ideas and external inquiries). In hindsight, I think some of the things we considered “failures” at the time usually just taught us patience. When things don’t go the way




What are you reading at present and would you recommend it?

 

I’m reading Everything Now by Rosecrans Baldwin, which is all about Los Angeles. I definitely recommend it. I really enjoy his writing style, and the montage-like approach of the book is such an ingenious and proper way to portray how unique, shifting and large this “city-state” of Los Angeles is.

 

 

There is a saying that if you haven't experienced failure you are not trying hard enough. What's been your biggest failure and what did it teach you?

 

I’d agree that failure is a natural part of life, and definitely a part of growing your own business. Both involve taking risks. But I think most failures are small, subtle, and even slowly occurring over time — rather than big, blockbuster failures.

 

I think with Canyon, we’ve been able to avoid big failures so far by keeping a learner’s mindset — knowing that we don’t know everything — and only taking risks we feel are appropriate for our size and experience. While using data, we always try to go with our gut, and say no to a lot of things (including both internal ideas and external inquiries). In hindsight, I think some of the things we considered “failures” at the time usually just taught us patience. When things don’t go the way we hoped, it leads to redefining our course and continuing to move.




What are you looking forward to for the second half of 2022?

 

I’m looking forward to the opening of our first coffee in Echo Park, as well as our new roastery in DTLA! And I’m also very excited for a trip to Mallorca and Paris in late August and September. I’ve been dreaming of going back to Europe for years.

What are you looking forward to for the second half of 2022?

 

I’m looking forward to the opening of our first coffee in Echo Park, as well as our new roastery in DTLA! And I’m also very excited for a trip to Mallorca and Paris in late August and September. I’ve been dreaming of going back to Europe for years.