Melissa Ben-Ishay: Baking Up Success
Meeting Melissa Ben-Ishay, President and Chief Product Officer of Baked by Melissa, it’s hard to imagine that the successful powerhouse was once fired. In June 2008, she arrived at work as the Associate Media Planner prepared for a promotion—and was fired instead. That night, her brother and biggest cheerleader encouraged her to go home and do what she loves most: bake cupcakes. She did just that, baking 250 mini cupcakes that very night, and continued baking every single day for the next seven months. At the time, she had no clue where her efforts would lead her, but she knew she had to work hard for whatever this idea would become.
Looking back on that time in her life, “I felt like a fraud,” Melissa told Inc. Magazine in May, 2016. “I'd cold-call catering companies and say, ‘Hi. This is Melissa from Baked by Melissa. I'd like to bring you a free tasting of my cupcakes.’"
With no funding and no savings, Melissa surrounded herself with something even better: bright minds. Her brother was an entrepreneur, her friend had restaurant experience, and another knew PR. She knew she had to claim her niche within the bakery world, and bite-size cupcakes fit the bill. With only 50 calories per cupcake, the miniature desserts were a hit. Starting with a hole-in-the-wall window in a cafe that served as her storefront, Melissa baked and filled orders for as many hours in the day as she could find. She realized she had a success on her hands when she completely sold out of her baked goods at holiday markets the following winter.
In June 2010, Baked by Melissa opened its second location, a physical store this time in Union Square. In November of that year, Ben-Ishay and her team opened their next location near Grand Central Station. Today, Baked by Melissa has 14 different stores and ships around the country.
Melissa was invited to the May 2016 Forbes Women’s Summit held in New York City, where she spoke with Forward Thinking. The event was co-sponsored by the Forbes School of Business® at Ashford University and featured women across different types of industries, including business, entertainment, media, education, philanthropy, and technology. Melissa shared with us about her failures and successes and what it takes to achieve your goals. She spoke about being open to new opportunities, pushing yourself harder, and striving to be better each day.
“You have to constantly be asking yourself, “What can I do differently? What am I not doing today?’” said Melissa, “and constantly re-evaluating yourself. If you’re comfortable, you’re not doing your job.”
Written by Kelsey Bober, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education.
Aspan, M. (2016, May). This cupcake maker beat imposter syndrome to build a mini empire. Inc. Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/magazine/201605/maria-aspan/ baked-by-melissa-ben-ishay.html