Meli was born out of my love for my Greek heritage and food. My favorite thing about Meli is that I can share my culture through my baked goods. Growing up as a first-generation Greek, I have visited different regions of Greece and can now share those cuisines with others through food. My baked goods are authentic to the islands my parents are from in Greece and these recipes have been passed down to me from my parents and grandparents. Sharing Meli's products with others is a way to share my culture. In addition, I wanted to share the language, which is why I named my business Meli. When you say "Meli," you are saying "honey" in Greek. There you go - now you're bilingual!
What drew you to your craft?
I always enjoyed baking and started making cupcakes and cookies for family parties. I then realized that my true passion for baking was in traditional Greek desserts. I missed those delicious treats that I would eat in the summers in Greece so much that I decided I should start making them in Cincinnati. I also love feeding others (typical Greek), so I figured I could start selling product to fuse my two passions!
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
That's a tough question! My favorite thing I make is baklava. As a completely biased answer, I believe mine is the best because I pay special attention to the ratio of all the ingredients. I've also received very positive feedback from people about my baklava which makes me want to share it with the world!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, but as I have grown up, I realize that I just want to be in a space that allows me to connect with others. Sharing my culture and experiences through my food has allowed me to connect with so many amazing people and I am so thankful for this opportunity.
What is your creative process?
Before I start baking, I think back to how my parents and grandparents taught me the recipe. I also think of how it was presented in Greece and incorporate that experience into my baking techniques. Also, I put as much love into a recipe as possible, because that's the most important ingredient ☺
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Advice I would give myself 10 years ago is to be okay with not knowing how life would turn out. I wasted a lot of time worrying about what I would do, who I would become, etc. that I missed out on what was going on around me. The practice of mindfulness has become a priority for me in order to maintain a balanced life.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
It is important to support local artists and makers because of the effect on your community. We are all in this together and there is room for everyone; therefore, support your local makers because we have taken the leap to share our craft with our community and we need your support! We do this for you- we want to share our passions with you - so take advantage!
Why do you love doing what you do?
I love baking for Meli because I am able to share my Greek heritage with my community. I have always been a "proud Greek" growing up here in Cincinnati. Now that I am older, I've created a space where I can share my heritage through food and pay tribute to the experiences I had in Greece. I make products that are traditional to the islands that my parents are from; therefore, you are getting the authentic experience when you eat a Meli product.
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
The advice I have for other people who want to start their own business is to just start. There is no book on how to do it. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do and ask for their help and suggestions. Avcept that there will be a long trial and error period, but that's the greatest teacher! There have been plenty of times that I have felt lost or discouraged, but I remember my reason for creating Meli and it encourages me to keep going.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
My favorite thing about exploring Ohio is the opportunity to connect with others. Being able to hear others' stories and experiences motivates me to continue my craft!