In order to highlight the amazing local businesses in Florida’s 47th District, the Anna For Florida campaign has launched “47 Means Business,” an ongoing blog series to spotlight local business owners in Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and throughout the district.

Our blog digs deeper into local businesses by collaborating with business owners to showcase their success and to identify what the legislature can do to support them. Together, these profiles come together to create a larger picture of the amazing diversity and ingenuity of local business owners that Anna hopes to serve and represent in the Florida House.

This week, we’re happy to lift up the voices of our friends at The Falcon Bar & Gallery. Cozied up on East Washington Street, their rotating art displays pair with the finest craft beers to bring Thornton Park District an independent, cutting-edge arts and music experience in a bar setting. At the forefront, you’ll find owner Melissa Schumann, building community one day at a time.

The scenic storefront of The Falcon Bar & Gallery.

Team Anna: What inspired you to start your own small business?

Melissa Schumann: I am a Central Florida native and, like many natives, I left the area to attend college, specifically in Arizona (ASU). After college, I started my career by working in management for a Fortune 500 company in San Francisco for about eight years. While living out West, I observed the local culture and flavor and I wanted to bring that back to my home of Orlando instead of seeking it out in other cities. I moved back to Orlando, earned a Crummer MBA, and started my own business from there.

TA: How does your role as a business owner overlap with your role as a citizen?

MS: It’s important for me to feel engaged in my community as both a business owner and as a citizen. My interest in community development helps me maintain a sense of perspective. Recently, my nonprofit experience has included serving as Founding President of our local Thornton Park District Main Street and serving as a board member, too.

My volunteer work has allowed me to build valuable friendships and to feel fulfilled by making a difference. These experiences have opened so many doors, including being selected by Mayor Buddy Dyer to be on a special Downtown Orlando taskforce, and sitting on multiple non-profit and city boards.

TA: What policy issues are a priority to you?

MS: The policy issues I am most passionate about are mental health funding, treatment, and research. It’s also important that mental health parity is attained to ensure that mental illness is treated equally to physical illness by insurance companies. My sister, who passed, had a mental illness, and I witnessed our broken system firsthand. To make my own contribution, I will be raising funds for the 2018 NAMI Walks 5K on April 28th, and everyone is welcome. Join us!

For more information about art and culture at The Falcon, click here.