Episode 16: Melissa Forman on Creative Cakes

business May 18, 2021
Melissa Forman on Creative Cakes

Melissa Forman, a Chicagoland native and popular radio personality shares how decorating cupcakes with her girls turned into a mission to spread joy through giving away uniquely designed cakes.

Connect with Melissa at her websiteFacebook or Instagram. Listen to Melissa during the morning drive from 6-10 am (Central Time) iHeartRadio (and follow her cakes on Instagram, too).

Here's the book that got her started, Hello Cupcake

Melissa's favorite gadget is...her Blendtec 

Hear it:

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This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 16

Jennifer Uren
Melissa Forman grew up in the Chicagoland area. She got her start in radio while a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was the first woman in the country to simultaneously host both a show in the morning and in the afternoon drive. She is kind hearted and always looking for ways to give back to her community having helped raise over $500,000 for local charities. But mostly she's a mom, just like you. Welcome Melissa.

Melissa Forman
Oh, why did like this make me want to cry? That last line she's a mom just like you like just ripped at my heart because that's the most important job we have, right?

Jennifer Uren
That's right.

Melissa Forman
Yeah, yeah. Good to see you!

Jennifer Uren
Well, thanks. Thanks for being here. So, that bio told us a little bit about your accomplishments. But why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your kids and maybe how you even got into radio.

Melissa Forman
Okay. Well, I grew up in Northbrook, I think you mentioned that I went to the University of Illinois and majored in journalism. I had no idea really what I wanted to do or be until I was at school, and I heard a morning radio show John and Maura is the first time I heard a woman on the radio who's just not like a sidekick kind of thing to such an integral part of that show that every morning I'd be like, I love her and I want to be her. And it turns out, I wound up getting an internship with John and Maura. And about two weeks before I was graduating from college, more or less to go get married in Chicago, and I got her job. And so it was a pretty amazing whirlwind. And I got the job actually, because of Bart Simpson and while I was there, I was an intern for John and Maura. And I did a Bart Simpson impersonation, which is kind of like my my Aunt Wendy, who talks like this, and it turned into Old ManSherf, and turned into Bart Simpson, I kind of got noticed. And so anyway, that's where my career started. I love Chicago. I have four kids. My husband when I met him had two little boys who were four and six. And then we had two little girls together. And I tell everyone I four children, but I forgot which two were biological.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, I love that.

Melissa Forman
I raised them and love them. And so yeah, that's how I got started. It was a very random thing.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, well, that's I love it when the right place right time, but it really was your hard work though, too. So I love stories like that.

Melissa Forman
Oh, yeah. You know, I always say there's a little bit, well, not a little bit. There's a lot of faith in everything we do. And if we live our life thinking that everything that happens to us both good and bad, leads us to the place we're supposed to be, then it's a very comforting way to live your life. You know, everything's just gonna be okay. Yeah

Jennifer Uren
And very forward looking and not looking back on regret or mistake, it's it's what's tomorrow bring? I love that.

Melissa Forman
Right? Yep, indeed.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. Well, that's great. Well, you have a lot of radio accomplishments. But one of the things that I actually love the most about looking at your, your social media feeds, and all this is you are a really talented cake, not just decorator, but I mean, the designs you you're a designer. So tell me, are you creative in other ways? Or is this your one creative outlet?

Melissa Forman
Um, you know, it's a good question and how this whole thing like, if you would have asked me a long time ago, you know, Melissa, what is it you're going to kind of excel or find tasks and it never been cake baking, it would have been cake eating for sure. I don't want to say I'm not creative, because, you know, I think we all have our creative juices and things. I took art classes when I was a kid, kind of like all of us have dabbled and I took painting. Did I excel at any of it? No, not necessarily. I don't think any of my artworks hanging in my parents home or anything like that. But yeah, I mean, I'm, I am an out of the box thinker for radio. And you know this, Jenn, because you have to do this. You know, when you're interviewing people, you have to think creatively, how can I get the best out of them? How can I learn something new or different? I think I'm really creative that way. I'm creative at coming up with contest things, and fun, unique topics that people get involved in. But no, the cake thing came completely out of left field. And that's the good news for everyone listening because it's something I kind of taught myself, you know, with the Internet, and I guess we'll get into that more, but it was really very self taught.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. Oh, that's great. So did you like did you have memories of baking like most people do with their grandma or their mom? Or was it something you you didn't grow up around and you just started doing on your own?

Melissa Forman
No, you know, I always told my husband like the one memory of the child is my mom baking benoits, and the powdered sugar and the cinnamon and I said, when you do that in your own home, when you take the time to bake something, your children will forever remember that moment. They're like my mom is making me something - or my dad. Yeah. And so again, she wasn't sort of, you know, she wasn't proficient at it either. She was nowhere near baker kind of thing. But I do remember being a kid, and smelling those bad days. And I remember sitting on the floor of the kitchen to by the refrigerator. I don't know if I'm the only one. But I used to sit on the floor and like, you know, by the fridge, and just talk to her and, and watch her bake and that's when we had great conversation. So, kitchen has always been special to me for many reasons.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, I think there's something about doing that leads to those side by side conversations that are much more natural and deeper and more, you know, genuine. So yeah, baking is a great place for that to happen.

Melissa Forman
Ahh. And it's relaxed. And you know, you're right. It really is, I mean, and people are afraid of it. You know, I know a lot of people just don't like to cook, or they're afraid to bake or too time consuming. But it's really therapeutic, and can be a really great bonding thing with your kids really can.

Jennifer Uren
And I bet when you think about or see a picture or even smell those things, it triggers all these memories just floods you with with going back to your childhood.

Melissa Forman
Right? I mean, you know, when you go to Six Flags, or whatever, and I smell the cinnamon or, you know, right or a churro. It's my mom's benoit!

Jennifer Uren
That's right.

Melissa Forman
And the flour and the fun and the cleaning up and you know the chocolate, you know, I could you could smell it right? If you close your eyes, you could smell chocolate chip cookies. And so it's an effort of love. Yeah, symbol of love. It is.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. But it's relational. I think that's that's really what I'm hearing you saying is that this was a relational thing.

Melissa Forman
Well, this is how the whole thing started. I mean, well I don't know if you want me to tell you exactly how,

Jennifer Uren
yeah, well, that was I was gonna say, when did you take it beyond the traditional and and start doing your thing?

Melissa Forman
Well, what happened was, you know, having girls, anybody who's a mom of girls knows that, you know, trying to keep them whether in a group of other girls, you know, occupied and not, especially when they're like in the preteen thing. I didn't want any arguments. I had heard that, you know, sometimes we have a gaggle of girls, someone gets mad at someone, someone else. So I was like, what can I do? What kind of activities can I do when all these girls come over to my house where they have fun together, nobody has time to get into sort of an argument. And I realized that baking cupcakes and decorating them was a great activity. And this is a time when my kids were little when that I think the books were called "Hello, Cupcake". It was the first time there's a series of them. And they were like, you know, they look like ducks or little cookie monsters. I mean, this was kind of the first time we saw elevated cupcakes, I think around. And he was very successful with those books, I think there were like four or five of them. And my girls and I just started to try to do those cupcakes. And then the girls would come over and I would do little contests. And I made you know, each kid like five to 10 cupcakes, and they left my house, I'll never forget all of them with these big giant you know fistfuls of cupcakes, saying, this is the best house ever! I love it here! And I thought "aha" I have something here. So those cupcakes kind of evolved in my family and in my household with Well, it's much easier if we have a bigger palette, let's make cake. So my girls and I would make cake my husband was sometimes help out. And we just started to elevate one cake. And then it just then it took off. Then we just started like, you know moving it forward.

Jennifer Uren
That's great. Yeah, that's a total mom win and, and that's great, that you've intentionally thought about how to engage and connect and not just be like, well, they're at the house. They're doing their thing, but I love that.

Melissa Forman
You know what, Jenn, I never thought about this until just now speaking with you, but I have a feeling that I'm thinking now about how this baking thing is kind of a metaphor for getting me through life. And because I started out with a cupcakes trying to do something to kind of distract it with something else. Then I wound up getting fired from my job getting let go in 2017. With my partner, I did a television show for a while with my bestie I love her to death her name is Jean Sparrow. She's very big in Chicago, and they let us go. And I decided when I left that day that I was going to come home and I was going to turn this around so my children, my daughters especially saw this as Mommy's not defeated, you know, Mommy's going to pick herself up and we're gonna have fun and I remember I came home and I said, we have a whole year off - because I wasn't allowed to compete or do anything else. We have a whole year off to be together and we are going to bake cakes. And not only are we gonnbake cakes, but we're going to give them away and we're going to make people happy and I didn't give them all the reasons but I wanted them to know that you know someone might break up with you, someone might divorce you, someone might let you go. And what you do is again, you go back to what you know best your mom in the kitchen and you pick yourself up as you bake cake? You know? And that's what happened, really? So it's kind of moving me through all the phases. I didn't even think about it. Really? Yeah, that's true.

Jennifer Uren
That's interesting. So you have this year to bake. And I mean, you've got pictures of amazing cakes, I'm going to put a link to it in the show notes. But, um, so who do you make your cakes for? You said that year, you gave them away. But now, who do you give your cakes to? And where do you get your ideas from?

Melissa Forman
So I still have this philosophy that I'm not yet there. Like, I'm still doing radio. So I don't let anyone pay for these cakes, it is my own. It is my way of giving back to the world. The joy when I mean, I have video of so many people being surprised and crying and tears and they light up. And so I feel like this is my little piece of the pie, my little piece of the cake of the world and nobody pays, I do it all just for fun. I find I find these people based on something moves me or someone will call and, you know, they're really eager, they have an idea for somebody who went through cancer or somebody, we did it for a crossing guard who everybody loves, who smiles all day, I did it for a boy who has diabetes and he's been a big champion of changing the laws of diet, you know, diabetics and helping them get the access that they need to healthcare. So it's just random or a TV news anchor who is retiring, who everybody loves. I made this big giant guitar case. So that's how I go about finding the people. Okay, what was the second?

Jennifer Uren
Oh, and then where do you get the ideas for what you're gonna make?

Melissa Forman
The ideas what's so great. And this is where it's so accessible to everyone is, you know, online, there's Pinterest, there's Instagram there, you know, so I'll just be inspired either by something I've seen. And then I'll change it up to be a cake that you know, that I own, or somebody calls and says, Hey, you know, I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. What can I do? And then I think, Oh, wait, you know, I make this really great chocolate bowl, and then I shove cake in and then I have it looking like it's falling down - well you've seen the pictures. So I'm inspired all all over, something will come up. Oh, we'll be in the kitchen, for example. And I used up all of our oatmeal. It was a little tiny, I happen to get a little cute, tiny container. And I save it. I'm like, that'd be great for a cake, or, you know, the pancake syrup is out. And I'll save the bottle because I'm like, that's so great. Then later on, I go back and try to figure out how can I incorporate that into a cake?

Jennifer Uren
That's cool.

Melissa Forman
Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Jennifer Uren
I think one of my favorite cakes that I saw it might've even been the first one I saw was, when you made the Domino's Pizza for your producer, Jim, I think is his name. And I thought that was just so clever and creative how you had it look like this gooey cheese. And...you have a gift.

Melissa Forman
What you don't see is the behind the scenes. It's like watching any of these cake shows. But I had to drive that thing downtown at like three in the morning. By myself trying to hold it so that the you know, the whole thing - the slice wouldn't fall down. And then also, I was trying to melt the gooey, gooey cheese and I had a brand new. I had like a brand new. What do you call a little torch? It's like a chef torch

Jennifer Uren
Yeah

Melissa Forman
I couldn't get it to work. My friend Aileen came over, she was going to help me but we both forgot that I had put alcohol like all over the cake. And my event like 13-year old comes running in no don't start the torch. You know, and we were you know, I almost blew my house up. I almost blew the car up trying to get the case there. But in the end it was worth it was worth

Jennifer Uren
That's really funny. See there's you need a blog now with the behind the scenes.

Melissa Forman
I know I do. I have been meaning to I mean, I really want to do my whole thing is to do a book eventually. Or maybe a blog called "Baking it Forward" where I show people's expression of gratitude when you hand them a cake, you know, and listen, if you're listening, it doesn't have to be a cake. It could be a couple of cookies that you bake or your mom's brownies or something. The act of giving or leaving it on their door has provided me more - I'll get teary-eyed - has provided me more joy in my life and helped me through stressful times. When you give something simple like that, it has this overwhelming reaction in your own heart. Yes, yeah.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. I for many years, I was on the board of a food pantry. And we would tell our volunteers that they needed to go through and take home food because they needed to learn how to receive well so that they could give well, and that, you know, it's a blessing on both sides.

Melissa Forman
Oh gosh, do I love that! And you know, it is the truth. I think I have been better at receiving now that I know what it's like to give. Yes, I think so. Yeah. I understand how impactful and important it is to receive a gift well, yes. You know, yes, yeah.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, you've you've poured yourself into it. So when you make these do you do you do everything from scratch or do you do short cuts like I start with a cake mix or you know, how do you how do you do it?

Melissa Forman
Okay? Don't tell anyone just between you and me and all of your awesome listeners. Yes, there are a lot of times I will use a box cake. And here's why. Number one, it's already been perfected it tastes amazing, right? Number two, it's so much easier to clean up and who has time like the rest of us we don't have time. And number three, my thing is the decorating right my thing is taking something I already know it tastes delicious and yummy. And by the way, I have tastes I we do the girls and I experiment with them from scratch. We I've done it, we all have done it and they're great. But really like a good Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines. It's like hard to beat for flavor. You know, it's, it's great. So some of these tastes could take me 12 hours or days, you know, you make things in advance or you're making, you know, like, I did a big golf bag for my father, I had to make all these golf clubs, like days in advance, things that go on the cake that are edible, but that you're not going to eat, you know, so I spend a good majority of my time on the decorating. That's my thing. Okay, you know, yes,

Jennifer Uren
Yes. Well, that's good. And that's freeing to have that permission to kind of go focus on what you're good at, and outsource in this case, to the cake mix the other stuff, so that's great.

Melissa Forman
No one has gotten one of these cakes and been like, this is awful. This tastes terrible, right, bring this back. I gotta do this, you know. So, you know? I? Yeah, I think it's a good balance. Otherwise, I'm in that kitchen. It's just, it's who has time? You know?

Jennifer Uren
It's a lot.

Melissa Forman
Yeah,

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. Okay, so walk us through your process from idea to finished product. So, you know, how do you decide on the materials? How do you plan it? Make sure it's gonna hold together? How long does it usually take you to do a cake? That kind of stuff.

Melissa Forman
Well, I would say the first thing I do is I think about have I already done this already. Because I really enjoy - at this point I'm not a baker I in terms of I'm not a, you know, a professional business where I'm selling these - I really like to make unique things because it's just fun for me. That's the art in it's like an artist who's not going to make the same painting twice. So someone will call me or something will come up. It's like, you know, Jenn, you call me and you're like, Okay, you know, my son or daughter, you know, loves books. I don't know, m&ms, or what do you call the game? You know, Xbox? Yeah. And then I'll think, Okay, cool. Let me look up and see what it looks like. Let me get some other ideas. Let me work through what's kind of easy, then I'll also think about how far away you live. How is it going to travel? I think I learned from Jim's cake that they don't, they don't all travel the same. I have had a few cakes fall and that kind of thing. Like literally on you know, fall because I didn't make it well. So I go through that, then I look. And then I gather photos, I gather, I gather and then I think about a) What can I do and b) How can I just make this look so incredibly cool, you know? And how can I make it my own? So go through that. Then I go downstairs, my basement is filled my husband, he's saying like, "Can we clean this up? Can we go through it?" but I have fondant. And that's another thing like Wilson, I mean, these companies have everything you need, you could make it from scratch. Or you could decide today Hey, I wanna make really cute cupcakes with my kids or grandkids and go get a couple boxes of fun does and some little you know, stencils or little cut out things and you know and have fun. And that's really how you know it starts then I'll think about what is it going on? You know, what am I going to deliver it on? You know, what will it look good on? a platter? will it look good on a piece of wood? Do I need to get that from the hardware store? And then I kind of just go through the process that I think about coloring like do I have the right fontant colors? What am I going to need to make? And then sometimes I'll make that in advance. Like if I need an ocean color. Or Tiffany I did a Tiffany box that was so cute for my daughter. I had to I had to make Tiffany blue because they don't have that. And so yeah, I make everything in advance. Do I need a cut out that I have to make and draw that's where you know you do have to be a little artistic like my husband's a big Philadelphia Eagles fan. I had to draw the giant logo myself. And I did it on, you know cardboard and then you cut it out. And then you bake the cake. Well Betty helps you I wish Betty would come over but maybe find a friend or have your kids do the cake - have them bake it and then you start creating and you put it together and you you know you pray a lot when you're making it and there may be some curse words. I turn the music up I am you know, listen, I'm in my whole life is embedded in music, but I turn it up and I'm in the kitchen and it's like whether I'm singing "The Greatest Showman", or Billy Joel or whatever it is. I lose myself in that cake and who I'm doing it for and in the music that's playing. And it's you know, it's like out of a movie, I guess, you know, so that's the process.

Jennifer Uren
It sounds like it's a few weeks of planning. And then when you make it and you alluded to, you're making some things along the way, but then when it's like "the day" to put it together, are you a couple hours? Is this a couple day kind of thing? You do it over time? or how long does it take to assemble it all?

Melissa Forman
Yeah, well, you want the cake to be fresh. So there's kind of like a process, you'll bake the cake a day or two in advance, you'd let it sit out or you put it in the fridge and you're kind of doing it in parts. So you know, you could stack it, and then you crumb coat it, that's when you put basically like frosting or ganache around it and kind of seal in all the crumbs, okay, that it sits in the fridge for a little bit and you take it out. But I mean, I've had cakes, some cakes are really simple. I really into this chocolate bowl cake. And it's so easy. And maybe I'll do a tutorial one day, but literally, you fill a bowl like a plastic bowl, you put like some cooking spray in it, you fill it with some chocolate melts that you've melted, and it pops right out you have a bowl, and then I put the cake inside the bowl. And then I do like decorating around it, but it looks really professional. And then you could eat the bowl. That's a super fast cake. It could take you know, a few hours, like two or three hours. But like, again, my dad's cake or I've done a flower cake for my mother, which was it took, you know, 24 hours at least of work.

Jennifer Uren
Wow.

Melissa Forman
So, you know, just depends on how much time I have and my desire to really accomplish that cake.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, yes. And I'm assuming you take a lot of photos of these cakes a lot. Oh, not just a

Melissa Forman
Yeah. Yeah, my kids are like, why do you need as many photos I mean, I have like, you know, so you got to put it in a bright light. And then you gotta close. I got to close the basement door because that doesn't look good. And then you want to clean up and you know, there's a lot of smoke and mirrors in cake baking like there's anything on Instagram. But it is my goal though, that when I make a cake that it looks, especially if it's a gift that it looks as perfect as possible. I am a little hard on myself. I do look at sometimes professional bakers. Like there's a little dent, or oh, my goodness, the fondant has a tear on it, I would never do that. But it's easy to say that when you know you're doing one, you know, a month or something. So

Jennifer Uren
Or you can flip it. "Hey, even they have tears on their fondant. Mines great."

Melissa Forman
You're right, I actually do do that too. I go, it's not so bad. It's you know, it's hard. It's you know, this is so much fun, though. And anybody can do it. And I literally suggest going on YouTube and looking at your favorite, you know, all this cake of some sort. And don't be afraid. Because it's just so it is just fun. And this is again, coming from someone who's not super, super creative or super, you know, talented, not to not to dismiss those that are professional bakers that do beautiful magnificent things. But there's room for beginners too.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, well, and you tapped into it, it's the joy of it. It's not the task of it. And, you know, my my daughter is enjoying cake decorating and she's like, I'd love to come see how this works, you know, but but it's I'm very task oriented. And so I've had to learn to go okay. The mess is, okay, the you know, there is a joy in this. And it's not just about an outcomes. It's the process.

Melissa Forman
Yeah, it is there. I'm - Jenn, I am a neat freak. In fact you should just kitchen some days by baking a cake. I think that's another thing. It's allowed me to free myself. I've had to learn, like you just said to let it go. Yeah, let it go for right now. It is okay. It will get cleaned. Yeah, you know,

Jennifer Uren
yeah, we'll clean at the end. So you're working full time in radio? How? How do you protect time so that you can do this and still enjoy it and not feel like it's turned into something I have to do now for these people that I promised?

Melissa Forman
Yeah, you're smart, Jenn. I gotta tell you, I love your questions. And only a mom would be that insightful to be like, wait a minute, how is she doing this? Right? Because you, you see stuff on Instagram or you see posts or everything, but what you don't see again, is the behind the scenes. And it is hard. It's really hard. I have a Ying and Yang. And you know, a lot of people want the cakes and I have to say no, which I'm not good at because I know it's meaningful and they really want it. So I've had to learn to do that. It breaks my heart. And I've also had to learn to balance like listen, this cake takes 12 hours like I work all day. And now from home today I work from home right now. It takes me even longer to get a show done than it used to. I have very limited time. So I do struggle with that. I have a balance and I wish I could tell you. I think it comes down to a) who is it that really needs or wants to cake. And how excited am I about doing that cake and that's why it's important that it's something you're excited about, you know, like oh my god, I'm gonna do a fish tank cake, you know, or I I want to do that or that guitar cake sounds so cool. I have to accomplish that. So that's what I weigh these days.

Jennifer Uren
Okay, and that's the freedom of you doing it the way you're doing it as a gift and a hobby because that "no" is - you're not turning down a customer, you're just saying, you know, I'd love to, but I have limits too. And, you know, so I think that's wise how you're doing your hobby right now. And sharing it.

Melissa Forman
And you perfect it too. So anyone who has a hobby right now we're thinking of doing a business and they're listening to say, How do I do it, you know, try it, I don't want to say for free, but practice, that's where you're gonna make your mistakes, right? You will see, you know, give them away feel the joy of what it means to get your product or whatever it is, you're doing your business that you desire. And then and then evolve, I told the girls because, you know, my kids were young, and like, let's, we're gonna sell these, we're gonna have to, you know, you can't sell something that you know, if it doesn't look good, or we have to get to a point where we perfected it, if I wanted to sell them now, I guess I probably am at that point now I'd probably feel comfortable. But um, yeah, practice and yeah, do it that way.

Jennifer Uren
Well good. I was gonna ask you if you had any advice for someone who wanted and I think that's wanted to start a side business or, or something. And I think that's really smart what you just said, because you might enjoy it now. But once you keep doing it and have to do it for others, you might lose the joy of it. And you you might not want to do it as a business. So I think that's really wise to say, try it as a business before you get too far in that you can't back out.

Melissa Forman
I say that I sorry about the puppy if you hear my dog. Yes, I did. That's the joy of working from home and being here. But um, yes, I would absolutely say that you have to take the time to really go through everything and decide, you know, do I want to do this? Because - boy I wish I could stop her, I'm so sorry. There's..

Jennifer Uren
It's real life. We're all mom's.

Melissa Forman
She sees a poodle outside. She's really excited! The thing is that you touched upon the other thing you - really it's like, you know me - but I thought am I going to lose my joy? Am I going to lose the reason I started to do this in the first place. And you have to really take a good look at that when you're thinking about doing your business. You know, are you making candles? Are you knitting sweaters? I don't know, whatever it is you're doing? Do you do it now because you love it. And it gives you great pleasure to give it away. And will it give you the same pleasure if you're making money and you have to do it to someone else's liking. It's a very fine, that's a very fine line. Now some of us need sometimes we need to do it because we need it financially. Right. And you have to do it. But you have to decide. Where's that line for you? Yeah, you know,

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. And so you started this as something to do with your girls with the cupcakes and then moving into the cakes? Are they still involved? Is there are they still part of? Are they too old? Now they've got their own activities.

Melissa Forman
So they're 14 and 17. And what's so cute is they love it. And they'll help me with things, so, you know, they're not there as much as they were from the beginning. So my one daughter super great at fondant things, she won't let me touch it, "mom, no, you ruin it, I will come." She's this big. She's still tiny, and she lifts this big fondant up and she puts it over the cake without us, you know, a mark or a dent. Mmy other daughter is really proficient and great at little sculptures and little fondant pieces, she can make little faces. And she's really good at that. So I'll call them in. But here's what I'll tell you, Jenn, the one thing that I haven't lost and I'll get really teary eyed is the idea that when I'm in there in the kitchen, kind of doing this for hours and hour, they walk through and their eyes light up when they see what I'm doing. And they're like mom, mom, oh, my gosh, mom - like they still and I I you know, the fact that we started out as a lesson, you know, to get along with other girls, then we moved into a lesson about someone letting you go and moving on and picking up and don't let anyone define who you are you go bake cakes. And then now it's this point of their life where they're going on to their own things. And by the way, they both they started a clothing business together right now they're in the process of they have 25 pieces they sew - I don't know who these people are because I can't put a button on but they have created this business line. So they have a business plan. They're trying to get ahold of a manufacturer. The little one is like on the sewing machine, and they see what I taught them obviously. Yeah, and now they're moving into their own little, you know, their own little niche.

Jennifer Uren
And what a tribute and legacy that you modeled for them. You know, try it and do it and practice it and find something you enjoy. And that's what they're doing that and I bet you they learned from YouTube and all the places you've suggested people learn about cakes.

Melissa Forman
Yeah, yeah. But the one thing they've learned the most is that you know, thank goodness somebody let me go. Thank goodness you know that day I got let go they see that you know what you dust yourself off and and like I said, that's the one thing in their core that I've left them with is like, my mom doesn't sit around. My mom got up so that's kind of

Jennifer Uren
Find the meaning in it. You found the meaning in that, that year

Melissa Forman
Yeah, in a cake.

Jennifer Uren
Isn't that amazing? So have you have you like donated cakes for fundraisers? Is that part of how you've raised some of this money for charities?

Melissa Forman
That's the best thing too. Oh, the the on the bio when you spoke in the beginning was just during my radio career, I've done some crazy things. I - all kinds of stuff. But yes, what's so great if people will call me from certain organizations that I love and ask, Can you please donate a cake? And I'm like, yeah, how great is that? Because it just keeps spreading. You know? A big big news anchor just got a cake. For some reason. I went to email him back. I was like, Wow, I didn't he wanted because the family. Some family lives around here with for my kids High School. But yeah, I mean, that. Yeah, that's been really, really nice. That part of it, too. Yeah. Neat.

Jennifer Uren
So you've kind of alluded to this, but if a mom listening is like, I want to do this, what is one thing she could do today to start to improve her baking and cake decorating? Well, cake decorating more so - skill

Melissa Forman
I would say start with the cupcakes, right, if your mom or your grandmother and go get a bunch of plain cupcakes, or get a box of cupcakes, you know, go online, there are little tiny things you could start doing. But I'm telling you once you start, especially when you get your kids or grandkids involved. There's just so much fun, and it's really not that hard. You know, it really isn't. And there are tutorials where they'll they'll take you through little roses, I make little roses out of fondant, and I thought how can I ever do that? So easy. You just have to try, you know, and the aisles and every store we go to are filled with like, cake stuff and hobby, you know, pick it off and just do it and the but the great thing is, you could eat your product to the end so no one's gonna see it. And you could get messy. There's not a person who hasn't either, you know, come over to my house and tried it and had the best time that didn't wind up going to do it themselves. Like so many of my friends bake cakes now. Because they love it and they got one and I'm like I want to do this or they do with their kids. Like you mentioned your daughter. You know, do it.

Jennifer Uren
Well, that's great advice. Start small and start start soon.

Melissa Forman
Start soon start to because, yeah, yeah - so much fun.

Jennifer Uren
Well, this this time has gone fast. And as we wrap up here, I have a question. I enjoy asking all my guests it's a little more lighthearted. And I'm a gadget girl I love to save times save time with the right gadget and so what is your favorite time saving gadget or tool?

Melissa Forman
Oh, this is such a good question. There are so many of them. Is my husband a gadget cuz he's real good at doing the laundry and the dishes. Okay. I would say you know what? This is a gadget so that was gifted to me I but this this blender, this Blendtec blender is like the greatest thing ever. I use that a lot. I'm sure people use like the Ninja. You know, those are great. I love that gadget. way there's so many I'm we're gonna get off and I'm gonna be like, Oh, that's another one. Right? But I think this blend this Blendtec blender. It's entirely expensive so you need somebody gift it to you or you gotta save up. Wow. It's like my favorite gadget every year to make soup and smoothies. So good.

Jennifer Uren
That's great. Yes. Yes. Yes. We have a similar one. And I love it. Yeah, very versatile - worth every penny.

Melissa Forman
Ah, he makes I mean, you whip up everything in that thing.

Jennifer Uren
Right? Yeah, he gave you taking it off. Just kidding you.

Melissa Forman
You probably you probably could. A souffle or sorts or order something on the side.

Jennifer Uren
Right? Yeah. Well, I know your pigs have their own Instagram account. And I'll put that in the show notes. But how do people get in touch with you or find you?

Melissa Forman
Well, I would love for first of all you can find me every morning Monday through Friday from six to 10am and 93.9 Light FM, you can listen that way. And then on Facebook I'm at Melissa Forman it's f-o-r-m-a-n, you can see if you're watching visually, it's f-o-r-m-a-nand then Instagram Melsforman and then Twitter I'm Melissa Forman f-o-r-m-a-n and I'd love to hear from you. And if you need a cake for something, you know, of course reach out if I have a free weekend. You never know if you're in the Chicagoland area it might just work out. And I'm here.

Jennifer Uren
but come up with a creative idea before you call her.

Melissa Forman
Well, I will probably I will shake you down for everything about the relative I kind of stalk the person once they call me I'm like, oh, what do they like to eat? I mean, I have to know everything about the person I'm baking the cake. So I figure it out easily so

Jennifer Uren
That's great. Well Melissa, thank you so much for being with us today. And I look forward to seeing the next cakes that you make.

Melissa Forman
Oh thank you Jenn for having me on continued success, your joy. And I I'm happy for you and your success of this is a lot of fun. I'm honored that you thought of me. I am.

Jennifer Uren
Thank you.

 

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