How One Epicurean Entrepreneur Creates Change from her Kitchen

This post is part of a series recognizing the achievements of Bossed Up’s Boss of the Year nominees, in celebration of Bossed Up’s official #LaunchLikeABoss Launch Party July 24.

Last March, Melissa Sanchez flew from Texas to Boston on a wing and a prayer.

A friend from law school had told her about Bossed Up Bootcamp, and her nagging discontent with her day job (the kind of 9-to-5 corporate legal job a first-generation college graduate felt she should have) drove her to attend the weekend-long training focused on empowering women to craft happy, healthy, and sustainable careers.

Less than 6 months later, and we’re thrilled to recognize Melissa as one of our nominees for Boss of the Year, celebrating the incredible transformation she’s created to align her life and work with her core values.

Melissa left her legal career to professionally pursue a dessert catering business, inspired by her epicurean upbringing in the flavorful Gulf Coast of Texas, and her lifelong love for the chemistry behind baking, a fascination that started around age 8. While her new venture, Belle Bayou Dessert Catering, is just getting started, she’s already received major orders for the fall that require her to ramp up her operations.

But for Melissa, it’s about so much more than the title change.

“This business does not just represent a part of the greater plan for my future, it symbolizes a great internal victory,” says Melissa. “For many years, I knew I was on the wrong career path but did not have the courage to veer off-course.  Bootcamp was a paradigm shift for me and helped me understand that my career cannot go off-course because I determine what that course is.”

Melissa feels blessed to be the daughter of two very supportive parents, Mexican-American immigrants who taught her the true meaning of hard work from an early age.

“They started us young,” she says, “the first job I remember is when we worked together at the Coldwell Banker and Kelsey Seybold that they cleaned in the evenings.  Aside from homework and chores, my main job as a child was helping my father at his second job as a contractor.  Saturday mornings we would load up his old pickup truck and go work.  Some kids had allowances.  I had steady income that probably flouted a few Child Labor laws.”

They also taught her the equal value of being part of your larger community – and the rewards of giving back. “Papi and me have been longtime volunteers for the United Way,” says Melissa, “starting with lending our construction skills to low-income elderly folks who desperately needed home repairs.”

One of our guiding principles at Bossed Up is that true bosses lift as we climb. Being a boss doesn’t mean exerting power over those beside you, as though another woman’s success limits our own. We all do better when women do better.

In this same light, Melissa is furthering her record of service and growing her community impact through her new business.

“I am dedicated to the cause of women’s empowerment in my Hispanic community,” says Melissa, acknowledging that one of the reasons the cycle of domestic violence is so hard to break is because victims can’t find jobs and might not speak English. “I seek to help with both,” she says, “One of the plans I have for the expansion of my business will be to hire women from shelters to work for my bakery. To change our community, we must start from within.  We must start with our women.”

Show your support for Melissa with your vote for Boss of the Year on Twitter and Facebook: simply mention “Melissa” with the hashtag #LaunchLikeABoss to cast your vote, and join us to celebrate all our nominees and the many ways they’re launching their Bossed Up lives on Thursday July 24.


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