Our new “Run TO, Shop TO” blog series aims to shine a spotlight on Toronto-area runners who are also passionate small business owners. We have all heard about the challenges facing small businesses as they re-open and operate safely through the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is our hope that by sharing these stories, we can rally and encourage the running community to shop locally. We are all in this together – let’s support our fellow runners!
Aleksandra Myszk is a runner, triathlete, and founder and creator of AM Coffee Studio. Aleks was raised in Poland but immigrated to Canada before she was 20. Ambitious and driven, she embarked on a career in the fashion industry, which led her to high-level corporate roles in luxury retail. Despite her success in the fashion world, she was left feeling uninspired. After hitting a major rough patch which left her searching for a deeper meaning, it was running that helped Aleks to eventually rediscover herself and her happiness through running.
Aleks’ journey to running began with a true inspiration – her cousin, Julianne Miszk. Julianne was an avid runner and an award-winning swimmer. She was also a loving daughter, sister, and caring friend to many. In 2016, Julianne, affectionately known as “Kiki” to her family, was diagnosed with cancer. She met the diagnosis with fierce strength and positivity, embodying what it meant to live life to the fullest. Tragically, Julianne lost her battle with cancer, but her legacy lives on in friends and family such as Aleks who are inspired by her to live life with zest and to never stop reaching higher.
A few months before her cancer diagnosis, Julianne invited Aleks to watch her compete at an international track and field competition. Aleks was touched by the invitation, and the trip turned out to be life changing. At the track meet, Aleks witnessed athletes with physical and mental disabilities giving it their all as they competed in the summer heat. The determination and pure joy of the athletes, each battling their own challenges, stirred something in Aleks. The following year, she ran her first marathon, with Kiki and those track athletes as her inspiration every step of the way.
Running sparked Aleks’ passion for wellness, taught her to be resilient, and led her on a journey to empower others to find their own paths to self-discovery. Along the way she ran many more races, competed in triathlons, and completed an IronMan70.3. Running and endurance sports became physical and emotional outlets for Aleks, and her transformation eventually inspired her to leave her career in fashion behind. She decided to make her vision of creating a space for coffee and community a reality, and soon founded AM Coffee Studio, a community space in Roncesvalles meant to inspire. In addition to coffee, the Studio offers food, books, yoga classes, a run club, and comfortable spaces for you to dream, create, and work.
So Aleks, how can the Toronto running community support you and AM Coffee Studio, particularly during this challenging time?
Patrons of AM Coffee Studio will see the Butterfly Pea Latte (or the Kiki Latte) on the menu; this item is a tribute to Julianne, with 25% of the proceeds from all Butterfly Pea Lattes going to Camp Ooch, a nonprofit camp that helps kids affected by childhood cancer. It’s also a cause that is near and dear to many in the Toronto running community, as every year we #runforooch at the Sporting Life 10k. Aleks encourages everyone to support her, the Studio, and Camp Ooch, by purchasing one of these lattes. She also hopes that people will help in their own ways: “to raise awareness and funds for cancer research however they can—whether that’s by donating to organizations such as Camp Ooch or SickKids, or volunteering with organizations such as Special Olympics.”
“In terms of supporting me and my business, here at AM Coffee Studio, community members and customers can purchase a Kiki Latte (Butterfly Pea Latte), which 25% of proceeds got to Camp Ooch.” At AM Coffee Studio, the Butterfly Pea Latte on the menu is a tribute to Julianne. 25% of proceeds from the Butterfly Pea Latte goes toward Camp Ooch, a nonprofit camp that brings laughter and joy to kids and families affected by childhood cancer. Aleks encourages everyone to raise awareness and funds for cancer research however they can—whether that’s by donating to organizations such as Camp Ooch or SickKids, or volunteering with organizations such as Special Olympics.”