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Meet Melisa Allen of Sweet By Design in Melissa of McKinney

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melisa Allen.

Melisa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up, I remember always wanting to make cakes for special occasions. I specifically remember coloring canned frosting and spreading it onto a sheet cake in the shape of a Christmas tree with a butter knife when I was maybe 10. Several years later my brother in law said he wanted to have crab cakes on his birthday, so I made him a cake adorned with a buttercream crab… thank goodness, there are no pictures of either of these masterpieces!

When my daughter was turning one, I was that mom who just had to make her cake. In preparation, I started taking cake decorating classes at a hobby store, and I would take my homework into the office for my co-workers. From that, I gained a small clientele and decided I wanted to pursue baking as a serious business. I started taking pastry classes at a local culinary school, and I went from making the occasional birthday cake for friends to specializing in wedding cakes full time. The only thing better than talking about a couple’s vision for their wedding is seeing their reaction to the cake on the big day!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have come up against a few challenges along my way. The first is when I was pregnant with my second child. My little bun in the oven made it really hard to lean over the three compartment sink at school. Fortunately, this was early in my transition to wedding cakes, so I was able to plan ahead a take a few months off when my son was born.

Then we moved about a year ago. I knew it would be hard to keep my kitchen ready for potential buyers to walk through so we spoke with realtor months in advance and came up with a plan. I took a couple months off again when our house was on the market. My next wedding order was two weeks after we moved into our new house. I unpacked all my cake boxes and baked a sample cake to test the oven as soon as we moved in. I also had my sister on speed dial in case I needed to ‘borrow’ her kitchen if our closing was pushed back.

As a cottage baker, I still face challenges today. I would love to be a one-stop shop, but cottage bakers in Texas cannot make a final product that requires refrigeration such as cheesecake or pumpkin pie. I have to refer that business to a brick and mortar bakery. Also, I homeschool our two children, and a lot of planning takes place around their schedule too. I bake before the kids are up, and decorate after they are in bed some nights. I have always been a planner though, and I take time to schedule out the process for each order a couple weeks in advance.

Sweet By Design – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Although I specialize in wedding and groom’s cakes, Sweet By Design is a custom bakery located north of Dallas in Melissa offering personalized cakes, cupcakes, and other treats for all special occasions. We want to take your vision for your event and make it a little sweeter! A memorable cake takes both great flavor and design, and we strive to give our clients a fantastic dessert centerpiece that their guests continue to talk about way beyond the big day.

Sweet By Design is a home bakery operating under and meeting all the requirements of, the current Texas Cottage Food laws. Because this is a home bakery, I only take a limited number of orders each week. We are small, and that is a good thing for both my family and my clients.

All my orders are for special occasions – since I’m not a retail shop, you can’t swing by on your way home from work for a cupcake or two. I love that my cakes are part of the celebration of life’s milestones. My goal is to provide my clients with a personalized, centerpiece dessert worthy of their celebration, and my prayer for each of my clients is that not only will the event be blessed, but that the life events surrounding the celebration would be blessed as well.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Overall, I define success as when I provide a client with amazing wedding and groom’s cakes that exceed their expectations along with great customer service. However, success markers look different depending on where I am in the process of an order. At a consultation appointment, I mark success as designing a cake I can tell the couple loves in addition to hearing them rave about the samples. When making the cake, I feel successful when I hit all the milestones it takes to make the order. I don’t see that you can operate any other way when running a business where the final product has to be delivered on a specific day and time. Another huge criterion in determining if I am successful is referral business. I love to hear a couple tell me that they had my cake at a friend’s wedding or another wedding vendor recommended to me!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brilliant Captures, Skys the Limit

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