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How The Founder of Baked By Melissa Turned Getting Fired Into a Cupcake Empire

For most of us 20-somethings who are just trying to make it through college and jumpstart our careers, being fired from a job is probably the most devastating thing that could happen. For Melissa Ben-Ishay, it was a hit she took in stride––one that eventually led to creation of her bite-size cupcake empire, Baked by Melissa.

In a recent interview with Her Campus, Melissa shared the intricacies of her story. “I was working as an assistant media planner when I was 24 years old. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life and wasn’t passionate about the job, which I guess showed because I ended up getting fired.” However, her job loss quickly turned into an opportunity. “Afterwards, I went to my brother’s office crying, and he said, ‘Go home. Bake your cupcakes. We’ll start a business out of it.’” Now, with 13 Baked by Melissa store locations nationwide, it’s clear her brother’s advice paid off!

Melissa also took time to share some of the wisdom she’s learned on her cupcake journey. “My dad always told me to ‘measure twice, cut once,’ which is such an important message for today,” she explained. “We’re in an age where it’s so easy to communicate. For me this means don’t always respond right away. Hold your words. Measure your words. You only have once chance, so don’t respond to an email when you’re feeling emotional.”

Like any girlboss, Melissa has also learned to own up to her mistakes and grow from them. Recently, the company opened up a gluten free location nextdoor to one of their normal stores. It wasn’t the right move, and as soon as they realized that, Baked by Melissa closed that store and started selling gluten free product in every location. “Without mistakes and learning from them, there’s nowhere to go,” Melissa reflected. “Our CEO and I both come from the same school of Every Challenge Is an Opportunity. That culture and way of looking at things is something we work hard to create at Baked by Melissa. That’s how my team looks at challenges.”

As far as the most surreal moment of her career thus far, it definitely surrounds the release of her new cookbook, Cakes by Melissa, which hits shelves on October 3. “It was an out of body experience to see this book I dedicated to my daughter, my recipes and my creations on those pages, and actually feel what it’s like being a published author,” she explains. “Take hold of these moments and appreciate them. Grasp them, and appreciate the hard work and the journey.”

We’ll definitely be baking the cakes from Melissa’s book ASAP, and also soaking in the major career inspiration she shared. Remember collegiettes that you have the power to turn every defeat into a success, and that eating cupcake is never a bad idea.

Gina was formerly the Beauty & Culture Editor at Her Campus, where she oversaw content and strategy for the site's key verticals. She was also the person behind @HerCampusBeauty, and all those other glowy selfies you faved. She got her start in digital media as a Campus Correspondent at HC Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she graduated in 2017 with degrees in English and Theater. Now, Gina is an LA-based writer and editor, and you can regularly find her wearing a face mask in bed and scrolling through TikTok.
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