In the bustling lanes of Shenyang, China, where specialty coffee is still blossoming, Xiao Xia stands as a testament to what female entrepreneurs can achieve in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Her story is not just about the aromatic allure of coffee but about a resilient journey marked by passion, innovation, and an unyielding commitment to dreams.
Xiao Xia’s love for coffee wasn’t born in the aromatic confines of a barista’s world but in the more modest beginnings of instant coffee enjoyment. As a university graduate stepping into the real world, her mornings were defined by the quick and easy Nescafe. It was the first job, however, that pivoted her path towards the aromatic world of specialty coffees. The transition from instant to gourmet wasn’t just a taste preference change; it was a deep dive into an indulgent and richly nuanced world.
“I remember the first time I sipped a properly brewed Americano. It was a revelation,”
Xiao Xia reminisces with a smile. “The aroma, the depth, the taste – it was all so overwhelming and beautiful.” This revelation was the start of what she describes as a ‘beautiful obsession’ with coffee. She began experimenting with different beans, brewing methods, and indulging in every bit of coffee knowledge she could find.
Her journey into coffee deepened with each job switch. From a graphic designer to a food photographer, each role she took brought her closer to the F&B industry, enriching her understanding and love for coffee. It was during her time as a food photographer that she truly realized the potential of turning her passion into a profession.
“I would visit cafes and restaurants to shoot, and each visit would leave me inspired. I saw coffee not just as a beverage but as an art, a culture, and a community.”
Despite her growing reputation as a food photographer, the dream of opening her own coffee shop never dimmed. If anything, her success only fueled her desire further. The decision to open Reshine Coffee was met with resistance and skepticism. Many couldn’t understand why she would leave a thriving career to pour her energy and savings into the volatile world of coffee entrepreneurship, especially in a city where specialty coffee was still a novel concept.
But Xiao Xia was determined. She spent months scouting for the perfect location, curating the right ambiance, and crafting a menu that would appeal not just to the coffee aficionados but also to the uninitiated. The renovation process was arduous and meticulous, a year-long labor of love. “Each detail was a reflection of my journey and my love for coffee. I wanted the space to feel like a second home for anyone who stepped in,” she explains.
Opening the doors to Reshine was just the beginning. The initial months were a test of patience and persistence. The cafe slowly started building a name for itself, with each cup of coffee served adding to its reputation. “We never had a grand opening. It was a soft, gradual welcome, inviting locals to experience what true coffee could taste like,” she states.
Then came the pandemic, an unforeseen challenge that threatened to undo all her hard work. But Xia, with her characteristic resilience, saw it not as a setback but as an opportunity to innovate. She turned to social media, engaging with her community online, and introduced sealed coffee cans to ensure safety and hygiene. This move not just sustained her business through the tough times but also expanded her customer base.
Today, Reshine Coffee stands as a beloved spot in Shenyang, known for its quality brews, warm ambiance, and the owner’s unrelenting passion. Xiao Xia’s journey has inspired many, particularly women in smaller cities who dare to dream big.
“It’s about not letting your environment define your dreams. If you have a passion, pursue it. The road won’t be easy, but the rewards, the joy of doing what you love every day, is incomparable.”
As she prepares to open another location next year, Xiao Xia reflects on her journey with pride and anticipation. She’s not just serving coffee; she’s creating experiences, fostering a community, and continually setting new benchmarks for herself and the coffee industry in Shenyang. Her story is a rich brew of challenges, triumphs, and relentless pursuit of passion, encouraging every aspiring coffee entrepreneur that with belief and hard work, any dream is within reach.