Through her love of baking cupcakes, Melissa Ben-Ishay, our #NJMOMpreneur of the Week, found her true calling with Baked by Melissa, a hand-crafted, bite-sized cupcake and macaron company. Celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year, Baked by Melissa has created over 100 million yummy cupcakes using only the most delicious ingredients with names like Chocolate Chip Pancake and White Chocolate Pretzel. We’re equally inspired by her ambitions to support charitable organizations like Make-a-Wish and The LGBT Community Center. This Hoboken-lovin’ mama sat down with NJMOM to discuss how she balances baking and parenting, the “measure twice, cut once” rule, and her favorite places to visit around New Jersey, like the Garden Street Farmers Market.
Creator of Baked by Melissa & NJMOMpreneur Melissa Ben-Ishay
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Melissa: Baked by Melissa offers our customers the perfect gift. It’s beautiful and delicious and without question the perfect way to show people you care about them and make them super happy. All Baked by Melissa cupcakes are handcrafted with the most delicious ingredients. We have a huge variety of flavors and gift packaging that changes with every month, season and time of year. We also ship to all 50 states and you can choose your arrival date.
Do one small thing every day to move your idea or business forward and you will make progress. Surround yourself with people who have skills you don’t. Ask questions. Learn. – Melissa Ben-Ishay, Creator of Baked by Melissa
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Melissa: I love cupcakes and I love to make people happy by making them delicious treats.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Melissa: My favorite part about my business is that I get to work with like-minded, passionate people who get shit done. We truly love what we do.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Melissa: I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and I have a strong work ethic. I know that nothing good comes easy, and I surround myself with people who have skills that I don’t.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Melissa: Baked by Melissa is celebrating our 10th Birthday this year. I am so proud of us. We are still growing and learning and I hope to continue to do this for years to come. We’ve sold over 100 million cupcakes to date.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Melissa: I am a working mom. I have a 2.5-year-old and a 5-month-old daughter that inspire me to work my ass of every single day. And I’m just like everyone else, I’m trying to figure out balance and how to give my girls everything they could possibly hope for and then some. And I’m tired, lol (good tired)!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Melissa: Personal and professional growth for me means doing things I’ve never done before and learning from them. We have something very exciting coming this spring at Baked by Melissa, too.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Melissa: I am passionate about giving back. We have a close working relationship with Make a Wish, City Harvest, BCRF, and The LGBT Community Center, and we will continue to do more to give back in the future.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Melissa: I don’t have just one role model. I believe you can learn and take good from all of life’s relationships! Some of the people I look up to are – My brother and co-founder, Brian Bushell, my parents – now that I’m a parent I understand A LOT more, my husband who I get to work with in my personal and professional life, and my Baked by Melissa CEO, Seth Horowitz. I’ve learned the most from these people but really I learn from everyone. I think it’s important to approach life that way – you can learn from everyone – we all have different experiences and light to share.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom or role model ever gave to you?
Melissa: 1. “What makes metal, steel?” “Extreme heat baby!” 2. Measure twice, cut once. Both of these pieces of advice came from my dad. From my mom, I learned how important a positive outlook on life is. This should not be underestimated.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon
He knew the importance of happiness. Without it, nothing else matters.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Melissa: I live in New Jersey and I grew up in New Jersey. I love everything that Hoboken has to offer it is super family friendly. There are great farms, and zoos and shopping, too.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Melissa: All of a sudden you go from living your life for you to living your life entirely for someone else. There is no way to explain this drastic shift in words. It’s the hardest and most fulfilling job in the whole world and I wouldn’t change a thing. I love it all. I love watching these beautiful humans grow. They make me laugh and they fill my soul with love.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Melissa: Guitar Bar in Hoboken has the best music class for babies. The Liberty Science Center saves us on rainy or freezing cold days. I love Augustino’s Restaurant and Baumgart’s Cafe, Organic Basic Food, and the Garden Street Farmers Market in Hoboken, I wish the market was open all year round. Can you tell I love food?
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Melissa: You can do anything you set your mind to! And it’s important to make your goal your priority – which could be hard for a mom. Do one small thing every day to move your idea or business forward and you will make progress. Surround yourself with people who have skills you don’t. Ask questions. Learn.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Melissa: Baked by Melissa makes the perfect holiday gift and birthday treat. There is no other dessert I give my kids because the size is absolutely perfect for them.