What Non-Cupcake-Based Businesses Can Learn From Baked By Melissa

Baked By Melissa president Melissa Ben-Ishay reveals how a personal touch can give brands that extra something–even in super-crowded markets.

Five years ago, Melissa Ben-Ishay was just another young woman in New York City, fresh out of college and scrambling to keep up in the fast-paced world of corporate advertising. She didn’t last long and left the industry in 2008.


Still under 30 years old, Ben-Ishay now sits atop a multi-million-dollar baked goods empire–and she has the name to prove it. Baked by Melissa opened its doors in 2009 and reinvented how New Yorkers eat sweets in the process. Serving one-bite-sized stuffed cupcakes in dozens of customizable combinations and flavors, Ben-Ishay developed an almost guilt-free model for snacking that caught like wildfire, especially among a fashion industry whose favorite food groups include air and frisée. The company rapidly expanded into nine locations across Manhattan, and two more will open soon.

In a city where it feels like there’s a bakery on every block, a couple of unique business strategies have allowed Baked by Melissa to stand out. Ben-Ishay has always been the baker in her house, but she credits the idea for miniature morsels and the company’s branding to another member of the family.

“I was set on calling it ‘Baked,’” she says, “My brother, on the other hand, insisted it have a personal tie. He said, people will feel more drawn to you and know who you are if your name is in it.”

The idea (obviously) worked, and the homey branding isn’t just for show. That clever brother, Brian Bushell, left his high-ranking position at Musebox Media to become the CEO of Baked by Melissa, turning the company into a legitimate family affair. And yes, Melissa still works the ovens every day at the company kitchen.

Bottom Line: Adding your personal touch to a brand can give it a face and help it succeed–even in crowded markets.

Produced by Shalini Sharma // Camera & Edit by Tony Ditata


About the author

Colin Weatherby is a writer, videographer, and current Leadership intern at Fast Company. If he's not strapped to a computer, he's usually on top of a mountain.