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Conversations with Macy Schmelzer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Macy Schmelzer. 

Hi Macy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
To me, Birdies Cupcakes really feels like the epitome of “everything happens for a reason.” During winter break of 2017, when I was 19 years old, I got word that I may have to take a semester off from college. Although devastated, as school had been my entire life and personality up until that point, I figured it was just a small hurdle and potentially a nice breather before tackling a biochemistry degree. I spent that time off doing things I genuinely enjoyed- primarily baking and experimenting in the kitchen. 

I had been an avid (and I mean avid) hobby baker my entire life thanks to my parents who love to cook as well as my Nanny and Grandma who are fabulous bakers. I still “stress bake” even after a full day in the kitchen! When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always, word for word, “Well, the dream is to be a baker but that’s not practical so science is the next best thing.” 

In junior high and high school, I baked for my best friend before his track and cross country meets every weekend in addition to family events here and there. During my semester off, I baked for a family function, then another, then a friend of the family, and it just kept escalating from there. I had to decide if I wanted to commit to baking full time and to be honest, it was a no-brainer. It felt completely right and natural that this was the path I was going to take. I figured I should take the chance while I was young and still had “time to fail” rather than regret my choices later in life if I ended up in a career that I was not passionate about, always thinking “what if?” 

I know I made the right choice, as it’s five years later and I’m busier than I could have ever imagined with more support than I could have ever fathomed! I am now able to create artwork using cake and buttercream (all from scratch, of course) for people who appreciate cake art as much as I do. The 18-hour days, six days a week, are doable because I’m still excited about the projects I get to create every day. I feel particularly lucky that after years of honing my skill set, I am able to create a unique and personal style of decorating of which I am so proud. It may sound dramatic, but I pour my entire heart and all of my brain power into every project; meticulously planning every detail, color, and texture. As of right now, I’ve made well over 1,500 cakes and tens of thousands of cupcakes, but I can honestly say I remember every detail of each one. After all that, I’m finally starting to feel more comfortable and confident in my abilities, but I am so excited to learn and grow. I absolutely love what I do and the incredible folks that allow me to be a part of their most important days. I truly can’t begin to express how grateful I am for the support I’ve had since the very beginning! 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
From the start, I have had an incredibly hard time balancing personal life and Birdies. I still have a long way to go as far as setting boundaries, but this year I started taking a full day off from all things Birdies each week. I also have a pickup window for folks to come each day, and this has been the best thing for me (when folks come on time… still struggling with this one). Most think I don’t have a boss, but I would argue I have as many bosses as I do clients. As a people pleaser, my biggest struggle is setting boundaries and then actually sticking to them when prompted. We’ll get there, eventually! 

Starting at 19 meant that I sacrificed my “fun years,” and I soon realized that making Birdies my only priority was having a real impact on my personal life and mental health. At one point, I had gone over a year without seeing a single one of my friends or peers. I put a lot of pressure on myself since Birdies is entirely my responsibility and let the “grind” mentality take over my life. As an anxious person with a guilty conscience when I leave a message unread for longer than a few hours, this has been a really hard mindset to change. I will say, however, that making this change has improved my life more than I can express. Of course, my mind is going a mile a minute when I’m “relaxing” thinking about all of the folks who need responses or upcoming projects, but it was a necessary change to sustain Birdies. Although it seems obvious that no one should apologize for being present in their life even if it means a couple hours away from work, committing to this sometimes feels impossible. Burnout is very real and will ruin the passion. As soon as passion starts to feel like work, take a step back! 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I have the pleasure of creating cakes and cupcakes for any event imaginable! Being just one person, my capacity is lower than “The Big Guys,” but I try to take on around 10-36 dozen cupcakes and 1-3 cakes each day. I bake all cakes and cupcakes from scratch with recipes I spent years perfecting and decorate using buttercream only- no character, novelty, or fondant work! I offer tall, round cakes which give a more elegant look overall and are my favorite canvas to work on. I have honed my skills at creating buttercream florals and botanicals and that is where my passion lies. Painted buttercream cakes have also become quite popular and are a true joy to create. Painting cakes and piping botanicals takes hours of work, but they are definitely my favorite projects to take on. I absolutely love seeing a little bouquet of buttercream blooms come together after the weeks spent planning. I still get butterflies before each pick-up because I’m so excited to present the cakes and cupcakes! 

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
The baking industry has boomed with how easy it is to share art, ideas, and trends on social media! Cake decorating turned to cake artistry as so many were able to find a niche style and run with it rather than being a catch-all baker and decorator. I specialize in buttercream work, but there are infinite styles of unique edible art such as towering fondant sculptures, intricate pie designs, and over-the-top pastries. Baking supplies went from a kit of 12 piping tips to kitchens and warehouses full of sprinkles, chocolate molds, edible paint, you name it. As a baker, not a “content creator,” my designs are at the discretion of what folks request, but it’s always a great day when a baking trend makes it mainstream, and I finally get to try my hand at it! A lot of folks feel pressure to turn their hobbies into jobs nowadays, but I think those who are able to create art for the sake of art are what keeps new ideas and trends moving. I love being a part of such a widespread art as there is never a lack of fresh ideas and talented folks to follow! 

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