Have you ever considered that it’s possible for something you love, even a hobby, to become a business that not only supports your lifestyle but also serves others in delightful ways? My guests on this episode are sisters who did exactly that by founding a dessert business in 2015, Mini Melanie. It’s an amazing story of how one of them carried a childhood baking hobby to great lengths (Melanie), while the other (Diana) became a successful human rights lawyer and then turned entrepreneur. Their success includes Melanie becoming a champion on the Food Network television show, “Chopped.” Their goal is to create “luxurious desserts to celebrate every life milestone through every gift you send.” Join us for the fabulous conversation about family, food, and customer delight!
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Could a family business work for you? Melanie and Diana’s story is inspirational [3:02]
- Amazing desserts that set the company apart [6:20]
- How the pandemic was an existential threat to the business [10:35]
- Scaling the business and making wise decisions as a small business [12:25]
- The “Chopped” TV experience and how it serves as a feather in their cap [15:20]
- How Mini Melanie works hard to “make their customer’s day.” [18:37]
- Why being a woman-owned business is important to Melanie and Diana [21:55]
- How customer-led dessert creation is part of the approach [28:40]
- Starting the day in a way that creates joy and sets them up for success [31:01]
Running a family business is a passionate and challenging endeavor
You may have heard horror stories about the challenges of being part of a family business. But Melanie and Diana don’t feel it’s such a bad thing. In fact, each of them has a powerful perspective on what it means to work in a family business. The advantages are incredible. They say that working with each other is a huge time-saver because they already have a level of comfort with each other that would take a long time to develop with another business partner. That enables them to move to a place of understanding much more quickly and advance the business without delay.
Kudos to their parents, who did a great job teaching them to work together toward common goals — and to them for putting those lessons to work for their business. If you listen, you’ll hear the synergy and chemistry that exists between these amazing sisters.
Pivoting in the face of business dangers is essential to success
As with every small business, 2020 hit Mini Melanie hard. The lockdowns that were announced in response to the COVID outbreak made it challenging, but Mini Melanie, being a New York City-based company (a city that experienced one of the highest outbreak levels of the virus), was hit especially hard.
In this episode, Diana and Melanie describe how their business came to a screeching halt and the steps they took to get things rolling again. They made a rapid shift to an eCommerce business model and began delivering their incredible desserts to customers again, in new and innovative ways. They say there’s no turning back, the boost they’ve received from the eCommerce aspect of their business is something that has created new opportunities for the business. Pivots like this are what make a team like this successful. Rather than allowing circumstances to dictate their path, they used the difficulty to find and take advantage of a new opportunity.
“We are a family so we treat our customers like family”
Every business wants its customers to be delighted with the service or products they receive. But to really pull that off requires an intentional approach and a mindset that is truly customer-focused. Melanie and Diana believe that the fact that they are a family business makes that mindset easier for them to maintain and express. They deliver family-oriented, personal service in every encounter with customers. For example, they have customers who have been with them through the varied stages of life. From engagement cakes, to wedding cakes, to gender reveal cakes, and delectable desserts for that same child’s birthday, they are part of the major events of their customer’s lives and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Food Network’s “Chopped” TV show
Connect with Melanie and Diana
- The website: https://minimelanie.com/
- The Chopped “sizzle reel” featuring Melanie
- On Instagram
- On Twitter
- On Facebook
- On Pinterest
We left our jobs to build a female-owned & operated D2C bakery.
- Studied culinary in Paris & NYC
- Head Baker, Blue Hill Stone Barns
- Chopped Champion
- Northwestern University (2008)
- Human Rights lawyer turned entrepreneur
- Early sales & operations hire at onefinestay (acquired for $200m)
- Emory University (2001)
Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.
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