Trivia time: Can you guess how many cupcakes Melissa VanderWyden baked and sold in her first week of business at The Hive Cake Studio?
Answer: Oh, just a few. Like… 2,200.
“I did the math over the weekend,” she said Monday with a short laugh. “I know it was a lot. I was tired.”
The bakery, located at 7664 Leavitt Rd. in Amherst — the former Sweets by Maggie — opened for business March 7 and operates Tuesday through Saturday.
“The Hive” refers to Melissa’s name, which in Greek means “honeybee.” VanderWyden translates to “of the fields” and both invoke sugary imagery.
Cupcakes have been the store’s most popular sellers so far. VanderWyden makes a stunning array, from chocolate and vanilla to strawberry, lemon, banana pecan caramel, snowball (which uses coconut), and even bacon maple varieties.
There are 10 to 15 varieties available on any given day. She also bakes cakes, cookies, and brownies.
Sculpted cakes are a specialty. VanderWyden said she’s crafted 3-D cakes in the shape of a lion’s head, a Jeep, giant cupcakes, shoes, handbags — she even once filled a request to make a cake shaped like a toilet.
Her love of art stretches back to days at Amherst Steele High School, where she learned from teachers Chad DiFranco and Tony Trunzo. After graduating in 2004, she took a love for drawing and painting to Ohio State University, where she earned a degree in interior design.
The road back home was a long one.
After OSU, VanderWyden moved to Los Angeles to work in the interior design industry, then moved into advertising sales. Unhappy with being behind a desk, she started baking while living on the West Coast and discovered that’s where her love lies.
VanderWyden said she was unhappy with her jobs and decided to change fields — she soon found work at a bakery where she became a pastry chef. She briefly took a job at Main Street Cupcakes in Rocky River and later moved to Philadelphia to work at another bakery as head pastry chef and cake decorator.
In November, she took ownership of the former Sweets by Maggie space.
Today she has two employees (one is her mother) and bakes everything herself at The Hive.
Jason Hawk can bee (buzzzz) reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.