Melissa Dharmadasa | The Face Behind The Most Insta-Worthy Cafe in Colombo
Founder and owner of Colombo’s most glamorous and artistic cafe Bakes By Bella, Melissa enlightens us with her rollercoaster ride as a female entrepreneur who changed the norms of cafes in Sri Lanka.
From baking madness at her small kitchen to becoming the founder and owner of one of Colombo’s most famous, and certainly the most unique and artistic coffee shop, Melissa Dharmadasa from Bakes By Bella has come a long way. It was a surprise to hear that Melissa was a biomedical sciences student, when her current venture is nothing related to it, and specially when she is too good at what she does. Baking and capturing her inventions were her hobby, which soon became a major income due to her exceptional skills in baking. Located in a homely place, embellished with beautiful wall arts and a gorgeous interior, and serving the best delicacies in town, Bakes By Bella has become a bucket-list place to visit for all food lovers in town.
Being a massive foodie, Bakes By Bella is a dream come true for Melissa, where she gets to make, bake, watch and instruct on the perfect cuppa to the absolutely delightful cake shakes. Bakes By Bella is nothing short of unique food to treat your taste buds.
Having studied in London, Sri Lankan culture and mindset was extremely hard for Melissa to adapt to. Conforming to societal norms was a challenge she accepted fearlessly, however, she did not mould herself into what the society wanted her to be. She embraced her individuality as a woman and stood up to what she believed in and won everyone’s heart for the lionhearted woman she was. “Every single day is a new challenge for me, but I embrace challenges and I continue my journey regardless of the obstacles I face.” She added with a brave smile.
“A woman’s own fear and insecurities are the biggest obstacles in the path to success as I see it. It’s a constant struggle to satisfy everyone’s expectations and abide to society’s standards. However, when you break the barriers and let your individuality shine through, you can truly embark on your journey and overcome your fear.”
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As Melissa sees it, women always prefer the stability offered by a regular job rather than stepping into the unknown as an entrepreneur. She emphasizes the importance of living life to the fullest and making decisions to do bigger and better as a female entrepreneur. Putting your dedication to what you do and not holding back is the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur and Melissa encourages all women in Sri Lanka to take a leap of faith.
Coffee is her best friend. It is not easy to single-handedly manage an operation of an evolving, growing industry, and she is extremely grateful to her support system of her beloved family and employees who encourages her to do better and comforts her at times of struggle. She believes the strength and support she receives through them is what makes her busy, stressful life easier and worthwhile.
Having lived in London for quite a long time, Melissa used to be a fit person who used to take long walks and keep her fitness in check. However, the hectic roads and the catcalling in the streets have strongly discouraged her to walk or run in Colombo. She plans on investing more time on her fitness by involving more in working out while balancing her work. She is also involved in boxing, which she claims to help her release stress as well as become physically fit. Her diet mostly consists of healthy food and less sugar and dairy, an upside of her regular involvement in making sweets and desserts.
Bakes By Bella has been a very overwhelming, exciting journey for Melissa and she point out how every single day for her has been a delightful surprise waiting for her. She plans on expanding Bakes By Bella within the region with the help of her investors in the upcoming years. She feels that Bakes By Bella still has a long journey ahead, and is eager to see what the future has to offer for her.