When Melissa Ben-Ishay was fired from her job in media planning, she seized the opportunity to do what she was passionate about—baking cupcakes and spreading love. She began sharing her cupcakes through friends and soon caught the taste buds of the owner of a PR firm who then put her in touch with a high-end caterer in Manhattan.
“When I met this caterer for a tasting, I saw it as a great opportunity,” Ben-Ishay recalls. “One that would allow me to, potentially, do what I love every single day and I knew in my head like I remember like talking to myself, ‘Melissa, you have the chance to do what you love every day, you need to do everything you possibly can to achieve this goal, because you cannot live a life of could have, would have, should have.’”
Now, ten years later, Ben-Ishay’s company, Baked by Melissa, has fourteen retail locations and ships cupcakes nationwide. She also launched her “Side with Love” project to help inspire good will, where customers can send twenty-five cupcakes to anyone, anywhere—for free. Baked by Melissa gifted orders for 60,000 shoppers and sent 150,000 cupcakes.
Ben-Ishay shared her story on stage at Imagine 2018, and we had a chance to sit down with her in theCUBE interviews. Here are five key ingredients of her success.
1. Be Positive
Being fired wasn’t fun, and, sometimes, neither was the hard work it took to get Baked by Melissa off the ground. Ben-Ishay says the key to pulling through was to stay positive. “Whether it’s business or raising a family or whatever your goals are, be positive, see every challenge as an opportunity.”
2. Surround Yourself with the Right People
People were also critically important, and Ben-Ishay stresses quality over quantity. “By surrounding myself with people who love me and support me, they gave me confidence I needed when I didn’t have it myself.”
3. Stay Focused
As her business grew, so did Ben-Ishay’s opportunities. Her secret to knowing which to pursue? Stay focused. “We’re focusing on our multi-channel distribution and making sure the brand is consistent and we’re opening additional retail locations. That does affect our e-com. We’re going to open in new markets and we’re going to reach new people who have never heard of us before, and we’re going to get there.”
4. But Don’t Focus on Trends
However, Ben-Ishay warns about focusing too much on trends. “I really don’t like to focus on trends. We’re not a trend and I think we didn’t get to where we are by trying to compare ourselves to others, that’s who I am, right?
5. Stay True to Who You Are
Part of staying focused is also about staying true to yourself and your brand. “That’s what got us here in the first place,” says Ben-Ishay. “I am Melissa, so I know that it’s my job to bring you the most delicious product.”
Ultimately, success “[Is] not rocket science,” Ben-Ishay says. If you see every challenge as an opportunity, and you surround yourself with people who have skills that you don’t, and you work your butt off, then you can truly do anything. And the Baked by Melissa story is just the perfect example of that.”