My Goals for 2018 and Beyond

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!

Sweet Things: Creating Custom Gifts

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!

Naked Cake, Florals, & Cocktails Workshop

I’m still on cloud nine after hosting my recent Naked Cake, Florals, & Cocktails Workshop at Journeyman Distillery on September 10th. For over a year I had this specific workshop in mind, and to see it all come together and with such positive response, my heart is so full! There was a great team of vendors involved—rockstar florals from Leah Bayes, gorgeous images captured by Laura Duggleby Photography, custom signage from the talented Tandem Calligraphy, and beautiful vintage furniture pieces from Celery City Trading. Not to mention Journeyman Distillery…providing their amazing upstairs event space The Grainery, complimentary cocktails, and bottles of their new lemon vodka for all participants.

Florist Leah Bayes chose a late summer/fall color pallete with foolproof neutrals that could be combined with more vivid colors for a little added personality and flair. She combined locally grown burgundy dahlias, coral amaranthus, purple basil, and pink zinnias. Additional florals were sourced from all of the U.S. and South America, including lavender, peach, and ivory roses, navy thistle, a beautiful taupe “Caramel” carnation and a selection of greenery, including eucalyptus and ruscus.

I was simply blown away by the custom signage created by Tandem Calligraphy—a beautiful hand-lettered welcome sign and smaller Instagram tag sign were the perfect addition to the rustic space.

Participants were encouraged to snap photos and tag them on Instagram with the hashtag #floralcakejourney to win a beautiful floral arrangement at the end of the workshop. Upon arrival, everyone enjoyed complimentary cocktails and mingled before diving into the hands-on naked-cake frosting.

“My hope is to bring people together and create lasting memories of a delicious experience.”

Our gorgeous lounge area furniture was provided by Celery City Trading. Vintage green upholstered high back chairs, a love seat, and distressed white side table made an ideal place to sip cocktails and pose for photos. They also supplied the large decorative easel for our welcome sign. The pieces looked fantastic in the space!

I was lucky to have my dear Mama on hand to help with the cake demo portion of the workshop. She’s my baking partner in crime and was simply the biggest help to me preparing all the cakes and frosting for the 24 total participants!

I loved seeing everyone try their hand at naked-style cake frosting! For many people this was their first time, and I was blown away by their natural talent. Each participant had their own individual station set up with rotating cake turntable, offset spatula, 6-inch cake layers, and my Italian buttercream frosting.

Leah walked the participants through the process of preparing the fresh florals to decorate their finished naked cakes. With her artistic eye and guidance, everyone created their own unique style. I was amazed at how different all the cakes were in spite of everyone having the same flowers to choose from. It was a gorgeous sea of floral-topped naked cakes!

The finished cakes were breathtaking—literally stunning! Everyone had a fun time taking photos of their cakes. I know it was hard for them later to cut into something so gorgeous…but, it IS cake and must be eaten!

Everyone went home with some serious swag—a full size bottle of Journeyman Distillery Lemon Vodka, adorable mini soaps from local Three Oaks Aylamethyst Soaps, recipe cards, and handcrafted caramels from yours truly.

This workshop was the result of an incredible amount of planning, organizing, and hard work. Thank you so much to everyone involved! I couldn’t have imagined a better experience—meeting and connecting with all the participants was the highlight for me. Stay tuned for my upcoming workshops—this is just the beginning.