News: Press Releases

March 9, 2017

New Bedford native featured in UMass marketing campaign

Jessica Coelho, UMass Dartmouth '07, discusses success of downtown restaurant

BOSTON – New Bedford native Jessica Coelho is featured in a current University of Massachusetts marketing campaign highlighting the achievements of recent alumni. Coelho, a 2007 graduate of UMass Dartmouth, appears in a video discussing the success of Tia Maria’s European Café, a restaurant she opened in the heart of historic New Bedford in September 2013.

“Opening up in downtown New Bedford, I must say, I had a huge warm welcome, local support — the community has been wonderful,” Coelho says in the clip. “It truly surpassed my expectations.”

Coelho, who is first-generation Portuguese-American and one of the first in her family to graduate from college, drew heavily from her roots in planning all aspects of the restaurant, from the menu to the family-oriented atmosphere to the name.

“I knew I had to build a brand — I couldn’t just name it ‘Jessica’s.’ That’s where the ‘Tia Maria’s’ came in,” Coelho says. “In Portugal, everyone has a Tia Maria, and it kind of feels like you’re at Tia Maria’s house.”

“I think this has been successful because I keep it authentic,” she adds.

Coelho also says her education at UMass Dartmouth played a key role in her success as a young entrepreneur.

“One of the reasons why I went to UMass Dartmouth was the Charlton School of Business,” Coelho says. “I knew I wanted to have a café, however, I also knew I needed to have an educational background that was well-rounded. I had accounting classes, financing, marketing. … It was a solid business program. It definitely gave me the foundation I needed to push forward — and also the confidence.”

So far, the video has been viewed more than 375,000 times on platforms including Facebook, Pandora, YouTube, regional news publications and connected TV.

The UMass President’s Office marketing campaign, conducted in collaboration with Boathouse Group, runs through the end of April and includes a total of six videos produced in partnership with Pilgrim Films. Four videos feature inspiring young alumni from across the UMass system, and two feature President Marty Meehan, the first undergraduate alumnus to lead UMass, who discusses the university’s impact on students and their communities.