Mini Melanie

Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?

I started a boutique baking business in late 2014 in New York City. I have a background working in Michelin-starred restaurants, and I had always wanted to start my own desserts company, selling unique high quality sweets. I've always been in love with the beauty of jewels, and I wanted to create chocolates and mini cakes which are as celebratory as pieces of jewelry - but which taste as excellent as they look. After almost a year of recipe testing, we achieved this and created our signature jewel truffles and mini cakes.

Our products are produced at Hot Bread Kitchen in New York's East Harlem. It's a wonderful incubator kitchen for small food businesses. We receive our ingredients from wonderful local vendors and bake our cakes and create our truffles each day. We do deliveries in New York City from the kitchen and ship nationwide as well.

How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Social media! Instagram and Pinterest have been extremely useful tools since day one. We photograph everything we create in the kitchen, always looking for new angles and recognizing what our followers enjoy most. We've received a lot of local New York City interest through Instagram as well as several shipping orders from Pinterest and Instagram. We advertise on Facebook and Yelp, and this is definitely working for us. We recently added our products to our Facebook page and are seeing more click-throughs and conversion. We also do our own PR, and we had some amazing hits this year which have driven national traffic. Specifically, inclusion in Cosmopolitan's online gift guide.

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Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?

We use the Quantity Breaks app for tiered pricing and the Local Delivery app. The Quantity Breaks app helps us structure our products and is very simple to use. And we couldn't run our store locally without the delivery app. We're able to track our delivery schedule and give our customers several flexible delivery windows. It's also very easy to setup and use. We handle shipping internally at the moment, and we work with a great perishable foods shipping company called Periship. Periship liaisons with FedEx, and we're able to track our packages with great care, and we get weather and delay alerts from Periship. We've set up shipping pricing on our store based on our FedEx costs within each zone in the U.S.

What are your top recommendations for new store owners?

Research the theme store in depth. There are so many great options it will be hard to choose, but you'll want to explore the functionality of each closely.

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