With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share a little glimpse into this mother/daughter team of ours. I can safely say, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without the support of my dear Mama. Being an only child, I’ve always gotten so much love and attention—I consider myself very lucky. Throughout the years, she’s played so many important roles, and it continues with Sweet Melissa. Working neck-to-neck with me in the kitchen, wrapping caramels, setting up market booths, assisting at workshops, attending small business meetings, and helping with taxes. There’s no end to what she does. Read on to find out the top three things I’ve learned from her—both in business and life.
#1 Be strong.
A few years ago, I got my first tattoo on Mother’s Day. It was a phrase in her handwriting: “be strong my love.” Whenever I see it, I’m reminded to not give up and to keep going, no matter how hard. Like anyone else, I’ve gone through ups and downs in life. But to see all of the hard times she’s had to overcome inspires me to try and be just as strong.
#2 Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
One of my biggest downfalls is managing finances. Numbers have never been my thing—I’d rather ignore problems with money until they get out of control. I learned the hard way that this is not the right path to be on, and luckily my Mama was there to help get me on a better track. She told me even if I’ve done something wrong, it’s better to ask for help.
#3 Work hard and with integrity.
One of the best attributes my Mama is known for is her great work ethic. She’s worked her way up in the same company ever since I was born—respected and relied upon. I like to think I’ve held the same beliefs in the way I carry myself. Hard work goes a long way and being a person who does the right thing will reflect positively on you for years to come.
Lastly, I’d like to share this beautiful hand-lettered phrase I had created for me by the talented Lauren Heim Studio—”I got it from my Mama.” Look out for this design on some pieces in my soon-to-be-launched online shop. You may ask what is “it” that I get from her? Strength, cooking skills, work ethic, love of biscuits and gravy, big blue eyes. All good things!
As I’ve been taking a short break in my business since the holidays, my hope was to have some quiet time to reflect on 2017 and plan my goals for 2018. I’m so glad I listened to my heart and embraced this hiatus. Last year was a huge learning experience for me—figuring out what works and what I truly enjoy doing in my business. I’m reminded that nothing happens overnight and sometimes it takes trial and error to find your purpose. Here are a few goals I have on my horizon for this upcoming year and some big aspirations for the future.
Goal 1: Launch an Online Shop
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I finally plan to create my own online shop. Since I don’t have a physical storefront, up to now the only way I’ve been able to sell is at artisan markets and a few select local stores. I’m currently working to create some of my own unique products that align with my brand—all in the kitchen/foodie realm. One major draw to the shop will be my signature handcrafted caramels. Once a month I will release a limited quantity for sale, and when they’re gone, they’re gone! This allows me to control the quality and also the amount of time I spend producing them. I don’t want to turn into a caramel-making machine trying to keep up day and night—but I do want to give people the opportunity to buy and enjoy them.
Goal 2: Create New Content
I truly love creating and sharing new content of my cooking and kitchen adventures. Last year, I learned how hard it can be to remain creative while running a new business. The demands of fulfilling orders and juggling different projects (along with my full-time magazine job!) made it nearly impossible for me to blog. So this year I’m scaling back on orders so that I can allow my creativity to flourish! I want to share with you all through social media, blog posts, and unique email-only content. I’m going to be doing some giveaways, free custom downloads and more…so if you’re not already signed up for my newsletter and you want in on the fun, click here to get added!
Goal 3: More Workshops
Last year I was just blown away by all of the positive responses to my Workshops. I’ve realized I really enjoy planning and styling these types of events—from the venue setup to the swag bags. My favorite part though is connecting with others— teaching them something new and having fun. I definitely plan to have more Workshops this year and expand my reach to host in different cities.
Big Future Dream Goal…
At the heart of it all, my passion is and always will be bringing people together and creating food memories. I’m sure it will take years, but one day I hope to have my own farmhouse-style property to host cooking classes, workshops, and events…possibly with a styled loft to rent out as well. Ideally, I’d love to be located in southwest Michigan—close to all the great wineries, breweries, and farms. This is a lofty goal that’s for sure—wish me luck to reach it some day!
I met Laurel Bledsoe, owner of Florida-based interior design company Laurel Bledsoe Design, at a food blogger photography workshop this past summer. We immediately hit it off discussing our businesses and future plans. It’s always wonderful to meet fellow small business owners—bouncing ideas off each other and brainstorming. Her company also has a blog Little Black Domicile that features free design tips every week and has proven to be a great tool for clients. After the workshop, we stayed in touch and Laurel reached out to have me create some custom gift boxes to send out to her clients. What a fun project! Check out her blog post on our collaboration here.
Sometimes gift-giving can be tricky—but I believe crowd-pleasing edibles are sure to go over well with everyone. I knew my handcrafted caramels in their kraft box packaging would make the perfect little gift. Keeping with LBD’s business identity, I added a sleek black satin ribbon to match her business card tucked inside.
Crowd-pleasing edible gifts are always sure to be a hit with everyone.
I also designed a larger custom gift box option I plan to launch soon. It all started with the container. I appreciate attention to detail and one-of-a-kind touches. After wanting something that felt special and could be reused, I decided to build my own custom wood box. It’s sturdy but not too heavy. Kraft paper crinkles make a nice nesting place for all the goodies inside.
Along with a packaged box of my buttery, soft caramels, I included an individual banana bread in a jar with mini wooden spoon. Banana bread brings memories of comfort and love—I grew up watching my Memaw make her signature recipe often. Each time I bake it, I’m reminded of all those happy times and I truly believe you can taste all the love that’s gone into it.
I started my business with the desire to spread happiness with sweet treats.
I also called upon my good friend and talented calligrapher Nicki at Tandem Calligraphy to create a custom decor piece. She hand-lettered a beautiful round of raw wood with the phrase “life is sweet”, a mantra I like to think of everyday.
A satin ribbon, hand-written note of thanks, and caramel info sheet are the finishing touches before packing up to ship. I hope that each recipient enjoys each gift that’s been put together with thought and care. I started my business with the desire to spread happiness with sweet treats—I think these custom Sweet Melissa gift boxes are a great way to start!