Melissa Green’s story of finding safe spaces through coffee

Happy Pride Month, Melissa! Would you mind sharing how you started a coffee brand for LGBTQ+ consumers?

Of course! I’m originally from California and joined the military early in my life. I ended up in South Carolina and now I live with my family in Arizona. I have a genuine love for coffee — the drink itself, the bean harvesting process; you name it. I knew it was something I wanted to do professionally, and last January I got the opportunity to partner with a fantastic roaster in the US.

Was there a pivotal moment that pushed you in that direction?

In all honesty, the turning point was when two of my kids came out last year. I identify with the LGBTQ+ community and knowing that my kids did too motivated me to create something for everyone.

I knew I wanted to not only use this as a way to connect with people, but I wanted to provide information on real support systems out there.

And that’s when you decided to support LGBTQ+ nonprofits?

Absolutely. I want to use Rise Above as a platform to educate, share resources, and inspire people — particularly young people — to get involved with the community. Before January, I vetted multiple nonprofits, and each month, we highlight one’s mission and resources. We also donate a percentage of the month’s proceeds to that nonprofit at the end of the campaign.

What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?

Even though I’m an entrepreneur, I still have a full-time job working in IT, so time management has been make-or-break. I never took business classes or web development classes to help with our site but just learned as I went along. Though I’ve learned throughout my career that many organizations are willing to help you, especially if you come from a marginalized group.

What’s next for Rise Above Coffee this Pride Month and beyond?

Luckily, we’ve had our Pride Month campaign built for several weeks. We’re spotlighting different folks in the community who’ve made a difference and continuing to highlight our nonprofits.

Follow our blog on Medium for more founder stories this #PrideMonth!

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