Melissa Villanueva is a visionary leader on a mission “to create and empower authentic community spaces through coffee.” As the owner and CEO of Brewpoint Coffee, Melissa’s business has been booming since it began five years ago.
After meeting her now husband Angelo, Melissa’s life was completely turned around. He could tell that she was unhappy at her corporate job and encouraged her to dream. Before she knew it, she’d quit her job, created a vision for a community space, and bought a coffee shop. “We had no business plan and little to no idea what we were doing.” Melissa said. “A lot of it has been having the mentality that we need to get better every day, learn as we go, and be as engaged as possible.”
Melissa believes in the power of representation and it is important to both her and Angelo that she stay at the helm of Brewpoint. This mentality extends to their partnerships, in which they prioritize working with female-owned farms to supply their beans.
When Melissa and Angelo were looking to open their third shop, traditional banks were not able to provide the capital they needed. Melissa came to Accion and received a $76,000 SBA loan to help open the location. “Accion tried to accommodate us to make sure that we got what we needed,” Melissa said. Brewpoint’s newest location sits in a 4,000 square foot former loading dock with custom-made furniture by local partners, a wholesale roaster, and event space.
Melissa is dedicated to Elmhurst and employs 25 people. “We want to be as hyper-local as possible, while creating a national brand that can help others do what we’ve done in Elmhurst,” Melissa explained. She plans to work with other small business owners to demystify entrepreneurship and create more opportunities for communities to flourish.