Longtime Wantagh resident Melissa Ehl is self-made.
Ehl, 24, is the founder of Mixed by Mel, a baking business that produces and delivers custom cakes, cupcakes and cookies. All sweet treats are crafted by the Wantagh High School graduate in the comfort of her own home on Jonathan Lane.
The baking business was given a kickstart when the pandemic hit: “When Covid started,” Ehl explained, “I became my close friends’ and family’s trusted source for baked goods because people weren’t comfortable going out to stores and bakeries.”
From that point on, the Instagram page that she created for her business grew in popularity. Before she knew it, she said, she was receiving orders from people throughout the state. She started baking in bulk.
Now, Ehl has garnered about 1,100 followers on her Instagram and has delivered her baked goods across the area: from parties in New York City to a wedding in Montauk, she’s done it all.
Some of Ehl’s most popular creations include her rainbow cookie cupcakes, peanut butter banana cake and her “boozy cupcakes.” These alcohol-infused cupcakes vary in flavors including: espresso martini, red velvet Bailey’s, caramel Bailey’s, white chocolate liqueur, sugar cookie martini and more.
She recently sold holiday-themed cupcakes with flavors like eggnog, peppermint mocha, hot cocoa cupcakes and lindzer tart. Most of those recipes were completely original, she said: “I create my recipes simply by experimenting with different ingredients. About 90 percent of my recipes I came up with in my head, from scratch.”
Ehl, who has been baking since she was a child, said she’s grateful for the enormous support she’s received from the Wantagh community. “I have people who order from me every week,” she said.
She’s heard from customers that her business has been discovered through the community Facebook page, “Wantagh Mammas.”
“They tell me, ‘You’re the talk of the town’,” Ehl said. “It makes all my hard work worthwhile.”
During the pandemic, Ehl donated baked goods to healthcare workers at Long Island Jewish Medical Center of Northwell Health and Mount Sinai in Wantagh.
One of Ehl’s faithful customers, Wantagh resident Melissa Albertina, began ordering baked goods from Ehl in 2018. She said she encourages Ehl to turn her baking business into a full-time job. Ehl currently works full-time at an accounting firm in New York City.
“Melissa is incredible at what she does,” Albertina said. “For me, it’s not just the convenience of being able to custom-order things. It’s the fact that she’s always willing to work with the customer.”
Albertina said she asked Ehl to complete her wedding cake. When Albertina had to postpone her wedding due the pandemic. Ehl was cooperative and understanding. “When I did have it, the way she worked with me, going back and forth to find the right decorations and the right flavors. … her dedication to the customer is just beyond.” The result was a personalized ombré design cake with rose gold glitter.
Ehl’s business stands out compared to other bakeries, Albertina said: “She will work with you on the design, on the decoration… It is a niche, boutique kind of bakery.”
Ehl’s only part-time employee is her boyfriend, Wantagh resident, John Shea. He described Ehl as “a force of nature.”
“She wakes up early to bake, she stays up late to bake, she is constantly running back and forth to stores,” he said. “When you see the amount of cakes and cupcakes that she churns out in her kitchen, you would think there are 10 people working in there. Her passion for baking really shows and it continues to amaze me.”
When asked what advice she would give to others who are trying to start their own business, Ehl said she’d encourage them to create original ideas and not to be afraid to try new things.
“My biggest advice is to be creative and think outside of the box,” Ehl said. “Think of what you can offer people that other businesses can’t. It’s also important to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas, because you never know what might work.”
People interested in purchasing Ehl’s baked goods can place orders online by visiting: mixedbymel.com.