NJMOMpreneur: Holly Migliaccio, Rook Coffee


New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women who build businesses in New Jersey, and learn the secret to their success.

Co-Founder of Rook Coffee & NJMOMpreneur:
Holly Migliaccio

Holly Migliaccio is the Co-Founder of Rook Coffee, and the NJMOMpreneur responsible for fueling the Jersey Shore’s robust appetite for great coffee. After working in the fast-paced environments of Internet companies including Yahoo!, Holly utilized her skills in marketing, management, and operations to partner up with her childhood-friend-turned-business-partner, Shawn Kingsley, to build a business that brings flavors from across the globe to Monmouth County. Rook is more than its 10 coffee shops and roastery; it’s a vehicle for opportunity in the community. With an emphasis on training and work culture, the positive energy of Rook employees is contagious. Paired with quality blends and a cold brew to die for, there’s a reason you can’t go anywhere in Monmouth County (and beyond) without seeing the iconic silhouetted Rook bird on someone’s coffee cup or bumper sticker. Holly’s team-building efforts reach even further with the highly anticipated annual Rook Run, a 5k run and walk to benefit The Valerie Fund, supporting children with cancer and blood disorders.

It’s no secret that here at NJMOM, we’re very serious about our #NJMOM Fuel, so we were super excited to chat with Holly about all things “coffee,” her leap away from her corporate, big-city job towards the life of an entrepreneur, and her favorite things to do (and places to eat!) around New Jersey with her family.

Holly Migliaccio, Co-Founder of Rook Coffee

NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Holly: Our business focuses on three key differentiating factors: quality, simplicity and experience. Staying laser-focused on these key factors has had a huge impact our business growth.
Quality: Quality is our most important driver. We meticulously select, roast, brew and taste coffee – always striving for the perfect product.
Simplicity: We love coffee and we want to share it with you in its truest form. Leave distractions behind, join us and enjoy great coffee.
Experience: We seek a smile with each interaction and take customer experience above average and beyond great, to a place we call over-the-top.

NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?
The original inspiration came from my business partner Shawn, who proposed the coffee shop idea. Knowing that I had left my career in the city and didn’t have a plan for my future, he believed our balanced skill sets would be valuable when put to work together. We’ve always had a lot of trust and confidence in each other’s work ethic and refer to our balanced skills as the yin to one another’s yang.

Business Partners Shawn Kingsley and Holly Migliaccio at Rook’s Roastery

NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Holly: Recollecting my jump from the corporate world, it’s kind of funny that I find myself back in the office. I still take to the road to visit our ten stores, since my favorite part about the business is talking to customers and our staff. Our goal at Rook is to provide an over-the-top customer experience so that people leave feeling better than when they walked in. We have the ability to make people happy when they come to Rook, and it means a lot to me to be able to touch lives in such a simple but meaningful way.

NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
I spent the first part of my professional career working in the fast-paced world of the Internet for some incredible companies including Yahoo! and TheLadders. Holding various management positions over seven years in sales, marketing, operations and training, I built a well-rounded set of business skills that eventually prepared me for my own entrepreneurial venture.

Shawn Kingsley, Holly Migliaccio, Alex Baraonde, Andrea Pappas, Mike Ward, and Marc Hindman on the coffee farm in Costa Rica

NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Holly: When we began hiring people was when I realized we were creating opportunity for individuals in our community. That’s when I started to focus on our training program even more. Having a great training program and staff support gives our crew the opportunity to better themselves. We focus tremendously on customer experience, building relationships and maintaining a fun and positive company culture. Watching the growth and leadership development of our team provides me with a great deal of pride.

NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Holly: I only set my alarm clock in palindromic time, where it reads the same backward and forward. It was something my best friend and I came up with during Spanish class when we were freshmen in high school. I can’t remember exactly how or why it unfolded, but I’ve always had a tendency to focus on those types of small details in life. She’s still a great friend of mine and we laugh about how we both haven’t quit that palindrome alarm clock habit!

Holly with children on the coffee farm in Costa Rica

NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2017?
2017 is a year of getting better. Both personally and professionally, I never stop striving for perfection. Of course, knowing there’s no real end to perfection, I’m always in a place where I’m constantly striving to do my best. I look at it like anything you want to get better at, just keep practicing and success will follow.

NJMOM: What charity or cause are you most passionate about?
A few years ago, we came across an incredible organization called The Valerie Fund, who supports children with cancer and blood disorders in New Jersey. They have a significant presence at Monmouth Medical Center, where both Shawn and I were born. We began working with The Valerie Fund in 2014 and created a 5k event called The Rook Run, leveraging Rook Coffee’s local brand presence. With our 4th Annual Rook Run coming up this October 2017, we’ve already raised a half a million dollars for The Valerie Fund. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve accomplished for this amazing organization.

Holly and Shawn at The Rook Run with winning Team Jack. Photo by Simply Photography

NJMOM: Who is your role model?
This one is easy. My sister Carey Balogh is my role model. Brand-building obsessed, she’s an incredible marketer who’s taught me so much about growing a business. We lived in New York City at the same time and I watched her impressively navigate the business world as a public relations executive. We have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to launch and create our respective businesses side by side (hers is called Brand Groupies), and we continue to learn from one another each and every day.

Holly with her family in Cabo, Mexico

NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?

Kill ‘em with kindness.

Holly: This has been something my mom has used since as far back as I can remember. I’m almost certain she picked it up from her mother, my grandmother, who was the kindest woman on the planet. The line continues to resonate in everything I do. My children know it already and I use it in business every day. One of the secrets to our hiring success is that we start the interview process by uncovering whether a candidate is kind. That is our number one hiring criteria, and it works perfectly in line with our goal of offering an “over the top” customer experience.

Holly with parents Anthony and Dee Migliaccio and sister Carey Balogh. Photo by Tom Zapcic Photography

NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
“It’s later than you think.” This is a quote my grandfather used to say to me. He passed away at 95 years old, just one day after the first Rook opened in 2010. I’ve lived with those words giving me perspective every day since. I view the quote as my personal version of Nike’s “Just do it.”

Holly with her wife Shannon Canessa and their children in Cabo, Mexico

NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Holly: I’m a big fan of hiking in Huber Woods with my family. As my children get older (they’re currently six and four), I look forward to being able to start seeking even more challenging hikes around New Jersey. We love nature, and hiking gives us a nice break to disconnect from our typically fast-paced world, allowing us to truly enjoy each other’s company.

NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
I think the best part about being a mom is having the ability to contribute to and watch the wonderment of my children every day as they learn to navigate the world. There is no better role in this world than being a parent.

Holly with wife Shannon Canessa at Purr ‘n Pooch Foundation Gala. Photo by Tom Zapcic Photography

NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Holly: My kids love an adventure to Liberty Science Center, Turtle Back Zoo, a classic visit to the Point Pleasant’s Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and  Aquarium, and will rarely miss a kids’ show at Count Basie Theater. As for me, I love food. My list of favorite spots can change week to week, but I do have my standouts. Right now I’m into Seed to Sprout and Ocean Café for lunch, and Yumi, Grand Tavern and the bar at Restaurant Nicholas for dinner.

NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Holly: I reside in Oceanport, the town I also spent my childhood growing up in. Something I took for granted as a child was living at the Jersey Shore. I appreciate it so much now that I am raising a family of my own here. We take advantage of almost all of the beach towns, from Sandy Hook, Sea Bright, Long Branch, Asbury Park to Point Pleasant, and even down to Cape May when we can get away.

Holly brewing coffee at Rook’s Big Oakhurst location

NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
“Kill ‘em with kindness!”

To learn more about Rook Coffee, visit their website and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat (@rookcoffee).

For more information about the upcoming Fourth Annual Rook Run supporting The Valerie Fund in October 2017, click here.


About Author

Chelsea is a freelance writer and photographer based in the kid-friendly community of Asbury Park, and she loves sharing tips and news about this cultural beach town with NJMOM readers. When she's not discovering new bike trails, playing in her handbell choir, or reading on the beach, Chelsea works as a Children's Library Associate at a public library. You can catch her out in Asbury Park watching her husband play drums with talented local artists - be sure to come say hello!