We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Fernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
At Cafecito and Confidence, we help overwhelmed go-getters harmonize work and life with our content, and slay their goals in comfort and style with our apparel.
I started Cafecito and Confidence after resigning from a corporate position. As I transitioned into the entrepreneurial world, I needed some type of income so I took a t-shirt course and I instantly thought of coffee as my niche. I was born and raised in the Bronx, in a Dominican household where coffee has always been a staple. I knew that outside of my own home and community, people all over the world had rituals and traditions around coffee as well and the more I connected with people after starting this business, the more that this truth was enforced. I was also inspired by some recent moments where “cafecito breaks” were my saving grace. Before resigning my job, I had some pretty rough days. I worked in the hospitality industry as an operations manager for a space that was always GOING. I was literally that overwhelmed go-getter busting my behind daily because I needed to help support my family. Before each work day, having a cafecito with my grandmother or having a cafecito in plain silence was EVERYTHING. My current goal is to embody those feelings of warmth, love, and hope through Cafecito and Confidence. I dream to keep growing the business to create opportunities for those in my community and continue guiding overwhelmed go-getters just like me to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I established Cafecito and Confidence, I started calling myself the “Creative Superhero” of the business. Initially, it was simply supposed to symbolize the fact that I’m a solopreneur who does “all the things” for my business. It still means that, but it eventually became a celebration of the fact that I created something for myself and people like me who like to color outside of the lines. I could have called myself a CEO or Creative Director, but I left corporate seeking freedom from that rigidity. I also acknowledge the fact that some people may not take me seriously with that self proclaimed title so I accept that those people are simply not my people, and that’s okay.
Speaking of unique positioning, I was watching an Instagram Live recently where Facebook Strategist, Author, and Creator, Hayet Rida (@hayet.rida on instagram), was talking about market research and she shared that our competitors are not who we think they are, we need to be able to put ourselves or our businesses outside of the boxes we think we belong in. When I heard this, my heart lit up because I resonated with it SO MUCH. Was Cafecito and Confidence created as an online apparel store? Of Course! Is it still that? Yup! However, we’re so much more than that. My competitors are not other t-shirt companies or boutiques. Through our Instagram and Blog Content I hope to provide content that genuinely supports my community in their goal-getting journey. Things that I learned from and can now share. Our apparel even serves a greater purpose, from the messaging on the merchandise to the types of merchandise we sell, we do not stray from the mission of helping our Cafecito Squad slay their goals in comfort and style.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I actually live uptown in the Bronx which is cool because I’m close to Yonkers and a train ride away from Manhattan. With that said we would start the week with a trip to Alamo, a dine in movie theater in Yonkers. It’s a great opportunity to go out while letting my friend unwind after their commute. Also movie theaters are the best on weeknights because they’re not as crowded. On Tuesday, we would go explore Little Italy in the Bronx, we would first get some drinks and apps at a hidden gem in Arthur Avenue Retail Market. They have a little beer garden tucked into the market along with a cigar shop , a t-shirt store, meat and cheese vendors, etc. On Wednesday, we would go to Thrillz, it’s an indoor adventure park in Connecticut which also isn’t too far away from me. Thrillz is like an adult Jump house, so much fun! On Thursday, I would take them downtown to K-town (Korea Town) near 34th st to have some drinks, sing Kareoke, and then have dinner. For dessert we would go to Spot Dessert bar, they have the cutest most delicious desserts! We would end the week with a trip to Fordham to dig into some good eats at the Bronx Night Market and explore the stores in the area.Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout would definitely go to Yanil from Global Pop Ups. Working with Yanil is always a pleasure. She is passionate, genuine, and truly cares about seeing small businesses thrive. I had my first pop up shop with Yanil and I also did my first Instagram Live with her. Not only did she set the bar for any other pop up curators I consider working with, but she also encouraged me to push limits within my own business. Through Yanil’s pop ups I also got to meet many other like minded creators and made connections that I cherish to this day.
I’d also like to shoutout an organization I’m part of, Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc (also known as SIA). It’s a National Sorority I joined while in college. Through my experiences as a member of SIA, I was able to develop so many skills including leadership, communication, and collaboration. My hermanas/sisters held me as an undergrad and then as a young professional. Now that I’m an entrepreneur, my hermanas are some of my biggest supporters. I can’t even explain how grateful I am.