The Story Behind Baked by Melissa

The Story Behind Baked by Melissa
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The Story Behind Baked by Melissa

Read on to learn how Melissa Ben-Ishay founded the now famous Baked by Melissa cupcake shop.

Image Credit: Baked by Melissa

Baking for fun

In college, Melissa tended to stay indoors baking rather than brave the cold outside at Syracuse. Then, unsure of what she wanted to do after college, Melissa began working in advertising. When she was unexpectedly fired from her job, she went home and baked. "I made four batches of cupcakes the night I was fired," Melissa says. "Peanut butter cup, s'mores, cookie dough, tie-dye. I had 250 cupcakes in my fridge. My best friend's little sister was staying with me for the summer and she was working in PR. I sent her to her internship with the cupcakes."

​Image Credit: Baked by Melissa

A bad situation sparks a business

Luckily, that one act set in motion Melissa's career. "The owner of the PR firm ended up introducing me to her caterer who had the idea to make them just a bite, and I did. I started doing events with him right away and doing tastings. I was cold calling catering companies." Melissa began selling her cupcakes at the Holiday Market at Union Square and eventually found a small space in Soho to sell her cupcakes. "It really suited our bite-sized cupcakes, this little store you can't even walk into," Melissa points out.

Image Credit: Baked by Melissa

Turning lemons into ... cupcakes

Baked by Melissa began because Melissa loved to bake and hoped to find a way that she could make a living at it. "I didn't have a plan per se," Melissa explains. She just wanted to take advantage of the great opportunity. "I think it is a mindset. Like making lemonade, but for real. I remember friends telling me I find a positive lesson in everything, and it is true," Melissa explains.

​Image Credit: Baked by Melissa

An out-of-body experience

Melissa lives near one of her stores and often bike rides past it, always delighted to see a crowd outside. "If it wasn’t [my store] I’d be saying, 'That is awesome, we have to go there.' So, it is an out-of-body experience, 100 percent. It is awesome because I get the opportunity to watch and people don’t recognize me. It is this unique position that I am so fortunate to experience," says Melissa.

​Image Credit: Baked by Melissa

Melissa is the brand

"Everyone is like, 'What do you do? Make cupcakes all day? You are Melissa? No really? The Melissa?' Here I am. It is crazy and invigorating," Melissa explains. "I am the brand. All these things that the brand represents is who I am. That was the idea from day one."

​Image Credit: Baked by Melissa

The Baked by Melissa fans

Melissa is constantly keeping up with her customers and what they're saying about her cupcakes. "I'm always looking on Instagram," she says. "I'll search the hashtag Baked by Melissa and I'll read what people are writing as comments to the photos. We are lucky. People love them."

​Image Credit: Baked by Melissa


Like many great things, Baked by Melissa was invented out of turning a bad circumstance into a passion project. When Melissa Ben-Ishay was fired from her first job, she went home and baked, something she had always done for fun in college. Little did she know that her passion for baking cupcakes would turn into a successful business.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how Baked by Melissa began!

Then, discover Melissa's baking secrets, learn 14 things you didn't know about the cupcake connoisseur and find out Melissa's tips for indulging without going overboard this summer!

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