Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Alakayi.
Melissa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always had a passion for both food and fashion, with the cooking being instilled in me and the fashion developing as I grew up. Growing up, my cousins and I would always watch “Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals” on the food network and would reenact creating our own meals. Coming from a background of a family from Nigeria, Brazil, and Louisiana; the dynamics of different flavors have always intrigued me. It’s a natural vibe for me to be in the kitchen, it’s like a safe-haven for me, especially because I love entertaining people. My sophomore year at Oklahoma State University is when I finally decided to kick-start the beginning of Meals By Mel. I started selling plates two-three times out of the week to students at my school and to the HBCU Langston University. It amazed me how much support I received when I finally showcased my talent and from that point on, I registered the company as an official business. After graduation, I took on an account manager job for a logistics company in Dallas, TX, but after realizing that my focus was all on my own personal business, I decided to part ways. I officially moved backed to Houston the beginning of this year and I’ve been working diligently ever since. I sell plates around Houston every week and do numerous catering events. The goal is to open my restaurant in the heart of Houston by the next year of 2019, so stay tuned!
Fashion is one of those things that I always engaged in. I used to model for a company called “Page Parks Agency.” However, the business aspect of the industry has always been my focus. When I was younger, I used to draw and say I wanted to be a fashion designer, but as I grew older, I started to transition in different outlets of fashion. I love event coordinating, so fashion shows have always been an interest of mine. When I first started at Oklahoma State University, I started off as a fashion merchandising major, before fully transitioning to a business major. I have worked several retail jobs both on the sales and visual side, which gained my interest in wanting to become a Buyer. After graduation, I came across a program called the “Irregular Exposure Fashion Academy”, which was a program to assist emerging fashion leaders and their brands. The name Unscripted Styles was formed because I always felt like fashion is always changing and you never know what you’re going to get. I am currently styling on the side and preparing to launch clothing pieces for my company. Today, I am continuously growing as a stylist and preparing to add-in a clothing line.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Honestly, I don’t think any road is smooth, but that’s the beauty of life. Knowing that you’re going to face obstacles, but how you overcome them is what matters the most. For me, I have experienced a lot of challenges and still do to this day. One thing I would advise to any woman is to never take “No” for an answer and never settle. I have always been told that I was overly persistent, but it’s because I don’t believe in “No’s.” When starting any business, always remember your worth and what you’re bringing to the table. You will have moments of wanting to give up, tiredness, questioning your purpose, but those are all temporary feelings. As long as you stay consistent and focused all that’s for you, will come on God’s timing.
We’d love to hear more about Meals By Mel & Unscripted Styles.
As of now, I am running two businesses. One is my food business known as Meals By Mel, which is a local food service in Houston, but I offer event catering, meal prepping, and private dining. My fashion brand services right now for personal styling, virtual shopping, and will soon be launching women ready-to-wear pieces. I can honestly say I am most proud of the growth in both businesses. When I first started, I always had a vision for things to be big, and now that things are developing, its just a blessing to see. Its safe to say, that I would be known for staying dedicated to my hustle. Those who know how things started from the jump, know exactly what I mean. I try my best to stay in my own lane and bring different dynamics for both concepts. Standing out is always a priority for me, because people get tired of the same things easily. So, it is imperative for me and my brands to maintain originality and to have my own wave of things.
So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
I definitely believe that the media has a way of focusing on the challenges women face as businesswomen, but nowadays people are becoming more open-minded to having women take on these certain duties. The force is female, and every woman has the ability to create an opportunity for not only themselves but for upcoming business owners as well. Leadership is the key. Always ask yourself, how can you be an inspiration to someone who you might have needed when you first started your business?
- Address: 2020 Eldrige Pkwy
- Website: www.mealsbymelissa.com & www.unscriptedstyles.com
- Phone: 346-239-0597
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @lissahh_
- Facebook: _mealsbymell & unscriptedstyles
- Twitter: @lisssah08
- Other: @unscripted_styles