Story by Liesel Schmidt | Portrait by Lucia Smith
Coffee is a drink that crosses cultural divides, and as a goodwill ambassador for Turkish coffee culture since 2009, Turkish Coffee Lady founder, Gizem Salcigil White, makes bridging those divides her mission—all while empowering women.
As the founder of a woman- and minority-owned business based in Old Town Alexandria, Salcigil White encountered a great number of challenges, overcoming all of them to become a great inspiration to so many others. “As a mother entrepreneur and a philanthropist, I believe we can turn challenges into opportunities,” she says. “I had many challenges over the last few years, but neither a breast cancer diagnosis in 2018 nor a store closure due to COVID-19 in 2020 stopped me from reaching my ultimate mission of bringing people together through coffee and culture. I believe that people need to reconnect and socialize more in the post-COVID era."
“Heart health is crucial for overall body health and we should educate our loved ones and our communities for essential components to have a healthy heart and how to prevent illnesses.” -Gizem Salgicil White
“After traveling the world with a coffee diplomacy initiative for eight years, my goal is to build a community-driven coffee and culture house where world cultures can meet and support one another, as many people are still struggling with uncertainties,” she goes on. “I believe that one woman's impact can reverberate across her community for generations to come, like a pebble creating ripples. Therefore, to support women empowerment, I established the Turkish Coffee Lady Foundation on March 8, 2020, in Washington, DC. Being the world’s first coffee diplomacy association, our non-profit foundation is committed to inspiring women entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and also offer mentorship and leadership programs. I plan to build a networking platform where visitors can find information about how to start a business or other related business resources easily online. I am eager to show the world how resilient and dedicated women entrepreneurs can be if they empower each other.”