by Noor Hindi
Vanessa Michelle loves coffee, good conversations and Akron. Her big personality and creative spirit bounce off the walls of her office at Summit Artspace. Her smile radiates and she’s overflowing with enthusiasm about her new project, Coffee Talk w/Vanessa Michelle.
Coffee Talk seeks to capture the unconventional successes of entrepreneurs and creative enthusiasts. What makes Coffee Talk different though is that the interviews are catered to be more than just a means of inspiration for viewers. Vanessa hopes to show people the logistics and mechanisms required to achieve their goals and dreams.
“It is so tangible to do the things that you love,” Vanessa says. “I’m creating this show, for you, so that if you want to be a published author, if you want to get out of addiction and recover, if you want to be a poet, I’m able to show you how to do that through other people’s testimonies.”
Each interview is conducted at a coffee shop. Vanessa chose coffee shops after noticing that most of the impactful conversations she’s had in the past happened in cafes.
Currently, some of Vanessa’s favorite places to hang out are Compass Coffee, Blue Door Café and Bakery and Pearl Coffee Company.
“[Compass Coffee] has this hot chocolate that’s to die for.”
All of Vanessa’s videos are posted on her YouTube channel, Coffee Talk w/Vanessa Michelle. Video teasers are posted on Mondays, full interviews are posted on Wednesday and tours of the coffee shops, as well as interviews with business owners are posted on Fridays.
Vanessa says Coffee Talk was born of frustration. As a journalist, she was tired of writing and hearing the same story. Her project is focused on showing people, in detail, how to reach their dreams.
“What I love about journalism is that you can literally tell your story and then that could propel someone to the next level, the next step in their life. I think that’s awesome.”
Vanessa grew up in Mantua, Ohio, but attended The University of Akron. She focused on radio and television broadcasting while there, and spent much of her time working for WZIP and Zip-TV. She says these experiences have helped her with journalism and broadcasting today.
But when she first came to Akron, the change of location from Mantua to Akron was a bit shocking. She was especially surprised that most people in Akron don’t own tractors and that there are sidewalks here instead of farmland. Despite the change, Vanessa says she appreciates growing up in Mantua because it taught her to appreciate the small things.
“For pastime here, people go get a beer,” she says. “Pastime where I lived is picking strawberries, going to your backyard and dirt biking.”
One of Vanessa’s influences include Canadian YouTube personality Lilly Singh. She loves Lilly’s platform and how creative she is. Vanessa also credits YouTube for allowing creatives to have their own channels and do what they want.
“I can do exactly what I want, how I want to do it, from edits, to music, to content.”
As an entrepreneur, the freedom to do whatever you want is something Vanessa loves. She says she grew tired of having a hundred hands on her projects and wished for more control over her content as a journalist.
“It’s a responsibility. It’s definitely a responsibility. I mean, there are a lot of things that have to be coordinated just to produce one show, but I feel like I will take that over having to follow someone else’s format.”
Ultimately, Vanessa’s longtime goal is to have her own network. But for now, she’s focusing on showing people how tangible their dreams are through Coffee Talk.
She echoes a piece of advice that her cousin Lavell gave her:
“He told me that you have to realize that you are in the best position all the time to do the things that you want to do and use the resources that you have.”
(photos courtesy of Vanessa Michelle)
Noor Hindi is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at The University of Akron. She is usually very nervous. Check her out at nervouspoodlepoetry.com.