Melissa Elia is building a fragrance empire from San Francisco, and Women’s Initiative is helping her get there. In 2009, Melissa launched Mayssa Fragrance, a fragrance and body soap business. Mayssa means “beautiful girl” in Arabic. Melissa first heard about Women’s Initiative from her entrepreneurial mother, who attended an open house. In 1999, Melissa graduated from Women’s Initiative’s 11-week business training program, and she credits the organization for assisting her with networking and marketing opportunities to help build her business. According to Melissa, “Going through the program gave me a solid understanding of expectations and knowing what the reality of owning my own business was going to be like. Understanding the business world made me change my daily life.”
Melissa comes from a diverse history of women entrepreneurs. She was a single child, born and raised in San Francisco. Her mother and grandmother were both grassroots organizers and entrepreneurs. Speaking of her own mother, Melissa says, “my mother has more guts then my grandmother and I had more guts than both of them.” Their inspiration to see change happen and their hard work ethic passed onto Melissa, making her a viable candidate for Women’s Initiative.
Melissa, who is also a practicing marriage and family therapist, invented many of the fragrances on her own in her kitchen over a decade ago. Before taking the Simple Steps program, Melissa struggled to find a positive work-life balance. Opening Mayssa Fragrance gave Melissa the opportunity to do something she was fascinated about and changed her perspective about many aspects of her life. While taking Women’s Initiative’s Simple Steps Program, Melissa was able to take control over her personal finances and given a clearer understanding of her own financial impact. The program gave Melissa confidence in starting and expanding Mayssa Fragrance into the successful business it is today.
Today, Melissa sells Mayssa products through a vibrant online marketplace and has upcoming plans to sell her products in retail stores. Due to customer demand, she has started national distribution of specialized shower gel, body lotion and perfume oil. Speaking about this national distribution, Melissa says that, “to see the popularity of the product grow is exciting, but having national distribution opportunities is phenomenal!” Melissa maintains her motivation by networking with inspiring businesswomen in similar and different industries. To maintain a positive balance in her life and work, she takes time to meditate and take care of herself both physically and emotionally.
Melissa attributes her success and motivation to Women’s Initiative, family members, best friends and her chemists. She accredits the success of her business to the loyalty and faith of her family and friends, as well as the support from Women’s Initiative. By providing Melissa with tools and skills, Women’s Initiative helped her realize her tenacious drive and passion to become a successful woman entrepreneur.
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