Mother-daughter duo create spaces that bring people together
By Hilary Dartt • Photos by Trisha Shaffer
It took a degree, a couple of careers, and several years for Julie Glaze Gorman to dial in on what she wanted to do. Now, she’s living her dream (which looks nothing like she expected), and she’s sharing it with her daughter, Autumn Sierra, who is enjoying the ride, too.
Julie opened Wild Iris Coffeehouse and Bakery 15 years ago this past November. Just a kid at the time, Autumn grew up washing dishes, taking orders, and managing the store. This past November, on the Wild Iris’s 15th anniversary, Autumn opened her own digs, The Century Lounge, and is now putting her experience to use.
While Julie earned her fine arts degree, she said, “I always supported myself by working at restaurants and coffeehouses.”
“When I got my degree, I was also a single parent, and the idea of working in art seemed unstable.”
So she became a firefighter for Mesa Fire Department, remarried, and moved up to Prescott. Her younger son had some health issues, and while Julie was at work, she’d often receive phone calls that he was in the emergency room. She made the tough decision to leave firefighting and took at job at Yavapai Regional Medical Center.
“That gave me time to figure out what I wanted to do,” she said. “I always wanted it to be in art.”
Looking around town, she noticed most of the coffeeshops closed in the early afternoon. That’s when an idea formed—and she knew what she needed to do.
Studying art in college, Julie learned about how 19th-century artists often met up at coffee shops and talked with people from all walks of life about everything from politics to art, to life in general.
“Coffeeshops were a refuge for people from all walks of life to come together. They were a space to discuss things.”
Wild Iris was born. Julie aspired to make it a place where people from different generations, backgrounds, and political affiliations could share the same space
That’s exactly what it became.
“Sometimes I’m shocked that it worked,” she said. “It’s really cool.”
For her part, Autumn was exposed to customers and employees who she might not have met otherwise, and learned to find some common ground.
Although she said, “I really enjoyed the social aspect of being here, hanging out with my co-workers, I tried so hard to find something else.”
Wanting to spread her wings, she became an Emergency Medical Technician and worked at a doctor’s office.
“I kept coming back,” she said, not just to Wild Iris, but to the service industry in general.
In college, she pursued a degree in public health … but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“I accepted somewhere along the road that I’d be in this industry,” she said, “and doing something on my own.”
Two years ago, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a property became available for lease. Julie and Autumn (home from college at the time) fell in love with it … but worried the timing wasn’t right. Julie wasn’t positive Wild Iris would stay afloat and opening another business didn’t seem prudent.
Still, the mother-daughter duo took pictures of the property and envisioned what could be possible for the space.
“It seemed like it would be a really awesome place for a lounge,” Julie said, “where you could go to have coffee or a cocktail with friends, or get a bite to eat. Or, like a coffeeshop, where you could go by yourself and meet people.”
In summer of 2022, Julie received a call from the real estate agent representing the owner: the space was available again.
Autumn had just graduated, and she and Julie loved the idea of opening a sister business.
The Century Lounge opened its doors a few months later, serving coffee, pastries, and small bites to eat. At the time of this writing, crews are building out the kitchen. When that’s complete, the lounge will offer cocktails and more savory options.
The idea Autumn described as “a someday thing” became reality.
Autumn devotes most of her time to running The Century Lounge, while Julie primarily runs Wild Iris. But both businesses are a family affair.
“We decided aa long time ago that when we’re here,” Julie said, gesturing to the space inside Wild Iris, “when we talk about the shop or the lounge, we’re not mom and daughter. We’re more equal.”
The arrangement works because Autumn and Julie are equal … but complementary.
“Work-wise, we have very different approaches,” Autumn said. “My mom is very much an ideas person. That stresses me out. I’m all about logistics. Some really positive, exciting things have come out of that.”
“I’ll come up with a big idea,” Julie said, “and I’ll get all these valid questions from her … which I have no answers for. She’s much more logical in her approach to probably everything. She wants to know how it’s going to happen. We’ve been doing this for years.”
“And,” Autumn said, “after all this time, I just trust that it will work.”
While making their entrepreneurial dreams reality, the mother-daughter duo are also able to bring other dreams to life. Julie recently took a trip to Florence, Italy, for a furniture design class. She also had the chance to see lots of the art she studied in school. Both women take classes at Yavapai College; Autumn is taking a horseback riding class (something she wished for as a child).
Both Autumn and Julie report that they enjoy what they’re doing and look forward to creating more. Julie admits she doesn’t always know how things are going to turn out, but Autumn said she’s learning to trust that things will work, and ideas will come to fruition.
Throughout their shared journey, Julie said, one thing has become clear: “I couldn’t do it without her.”
Wild Iris Coffeehouse is at 124 S. Granite St. in Prescott. Learn more at wildiriscoffee.com or by calling 928.778.5155. Follow Wild Iris on Instagram @wildiriscoffeehouse.
The Century Lounge is at 129 N. Cortez St. in Prescott. Call 928.350.8672 or visit thecenturylounge.com to learn more. Follow The Century Lounge on Instagram @the_centurylounge.