When Melissa Ben-Ishay lost her job as an assistant media planner, she turned lemons into… cupcakes. Melissa launched Baked By Melissa, which creates a wide array of bite-sized cupcakes and other sweets, including gluten-free and nut-free options. In her cookbook, Cakes By Melissa, she shares some of the secrets behind her ultra-creative sweets. We spoke with her about where she finds inspiration, and her company’s commitment to doing social good.
Huge congratulations on the success of your company, Baked By Melissa. What was your inspiration for launching your company?
I have always loved cupcakes. When I was working in the job I was fired from, I used to eat at least two big cupcakes every day because I could never decide which flavor I wanted. It seamed like a no-brainer to make them small (so you could try them all)!
How do you get ideas for your creative recipes, like your electric tie-dye layer cake?
The electric tie-dye layer cake was inspired by our signature bite-size cupcake, tie-dye. I get inspiration everywhere. When I am creating new flavors and product, I often think back to my childhood and try to remember what I loved to eat around certain times of the year and holidays. I also think about what types of snacks and dessert make me happy. So, I’m inspired by childhood memories and the people I love most.
It seems like your company puts an emphasis on social good, for example your #SideWithLove initiative. Can you tell us about that?
Baked by Melissa exists to make life sweeter, and our product genuinely makes people happy. Today more than ever, it’s so important to inspire people to do good and to spread positivity. Our #SideWithLove initiative did just that: we gave away 150,000 cupcakes to inspire random acts of kindness and encourage people to pay it forward. We gave away all the cupcakes in just hours, and our Baked by Melissa team came together and executed the campaign quickly, efficiently and with a whole lot of love. I could not be more proud of our team. #SideWithLove was a huge success.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Loading and unloading the dishwasher, since I feel like I’m always doing it.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
Playing with my almost two-year old daughter is my favorite way to relax and unwind. She’s the coolest.
What is your best parenting hack?
Since I’m always cleaning up around the house and my daughter copies everything, she has started cleaning too. It’s awesome for so many reasons, and I actually make a game out of it. She loves loading the dishwasher and putting dirty clothes in the washing machine.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
“Elmo is sleeping,” because she always wants to watch Elmo.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
I am proud all the time. I think it’s important to appreciate small moments – that’s what life is all about. I’m proud of myself, my husband and of course I’m proud of our daughter. Yesterday she woke up and randomly started saying “I got it.” It was so funny and random. And of course it made me super proud. I love to watch her in social situations, which also makes me super proud.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
You’re amazing and you can do anything you set your mind to.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
You’re amazing and you can do anything.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
I give 110% at everything I do. My definition of happiness is working hard on something I love. I love Baked by Melissa and my family, and I appreciate the opportunity to work my butt off for the people I love. And that makes me happy.
What was the last book you read?
Favorite Beauty Product:
Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Favorite Form of Exercise:
What is on your DVR?
Right now all I watch religiously is Sesame Street!
Favorite Kids Store: