Meet the Ballet San Antonio Soloist Who Started Her Own Coffee Brand

July 17, 2023

When Buse Babadag left her native Turkey at 15 years old to train at the Munich Ballet Academy in Germany, she often found solace in visiting coffee shops to ease her homesickness. “I would spend hours there because it was warm and the smell of the coffee was so comforting,” Babadag recalls. By 2022—a year after joining Ballet San Antonio as a soloist—she had a coffee brand of her own, aptly named Buse and Rosé (taken from her first name, which means “kiss” in Turkish, and Babadag’s other favorite drink, rosé wine).

“I was looking for additional income,” explains Babadag. “I had started a blog two years ago where I was writing about things like travel, restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops, so then I had the idea of developing my own coffee business.” Her new venture would create a fulfilling blend of her passions.

Buse Babadag spoons ground coffee into a jar in a living room. She is kneeling next to a coffee table. On the table is a sign that reads, "Coffee time."
Photo courtesy Babadag.

Launching Her Brand

Born in Istanbul, Babadag received her diploma in dance from the Munich Ballet Academy. In 2014, she moved to the U.S., where she began working with Tulsa Ballet II. After one season performing with Tulsa Ballet, Babadag joined Dance Alive National Ballet in Florida and rose to the rank of soloist. In 2018, she entered Indianapolis Ballet, where she danced many of George Balanchine’s works for three seasons. Babadag joined BSA in 2021 as a soloist, performing roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Kitri’s friend in Don Quixote, and the lead in Cinderella.

As one might expect, starting an online coffee business while juggling a busy dance career is no easy feat, especially since Babadag had no entrepreneurship experience. But if there is one quality she has gained from ballet, it’s confidence. “My years of dancing have taught me how to be open and communicate with people,” says Babadag.

Buse Babadag performing "Cinderella." She is wearing a lavender dress, her right leg extended forward in tendu. She is holding a broom with her left hand and extending her right arm up.
Babadag in Ballet San Antonio’s Cinderella, 2022. Photo by Marty Sohl, courtesy Babadag.

Babadag did extensive online research, watched YouTube videos, and talked with an accountant to make sure she would meet all legal tax requirements. In April 2022, she put together her LLC (limited liability company) and then spent six months creating her packaging label and searching for a supplier. She decided to go with Temecula Coffee Roasters in California for their organic beans and sweet aroma.

When an order is placed on Buse and Rosé’s website, the roaster will package the coffee and ship it that day or the following day, ensuring that the coffee is fresh. (Babadag’s favorite flavors so far are Ethiopian Natural and Guatemala.)

A Balancing Act

Running a business, being a full-time soloist, and also teaching for the School of BSA can be a tall order, but Babadag knows how to channel her focus. “Ballet takes so much time and mental effort, so when I’m dancing, it’s all about that,” explains Babadag. “Then I get home, have a quick dinner, and switch to a different motivation: my coffee business. When I got my first sale, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it works!’ It’s all worth it when you get the sales and receive the feedback from people.”

Buse Babadag uses a ring light and smartphone to shoot content of a bag of her brand's coffee and a cup of it prepared.
Babadag creating Buse and Rose Instagram reels. Photo courtesy Babadag.

While her coffees are currently for sale through the website, Babadag is in talks with some cafés in San Antonio to sell her brand in-store. Now that BSA’s season has also ended, she hopes to start appearing at various pop-ups around the city, such as farmers’ markets. “It would be super-cute after my stage career, which isn’t ending soon, to have my own coffee shop one day,” says Babadag.

Babadag is proud of her accomplishments so far, particularly since Turkish representation in U.S. ballet companies is still rather scarce. She is not aware of any other Turkish ballerina in an American company right now. Her artistic director, Sofiane Sylve, calls Babadag’s achievements on and off the stage a fulfillment of the American dream.

“The fact that she immigrated to the U.S., got herself a steady job, and is an entrepreneur resembles a lot of what America is to me,” reflects Sylve. “That depth and drive show when she performs, and I know the students look up to her, too.”