Mantachie woman turns her hobby into a profession

TUPELO – Melissa Nichols didn’t intend to make a career out of buttercream frosting and fondant. She just wanted to take a few cake decorating classes to hone her skills so she could dress up a birthday treat for her son.
“I thought it would just be a hobby, but it’s turned into a profession,” said Nichols, who has been working her magic at Creative Cakes and Supplies in Tupelo for 15 years.
In retrospect, the 43-year-old should have had an inkling of where her life was going to lead her when she was just a child.
“At home, my mother would let me bake little cakes – she had this little cake pan – and I’d decorate them all day long,” said Nichols, who lives in Mantachie with her husband, David, and two children. “I guess I should have known then.”
Nichols puts her designs on cakes, cupcakes and cookies – whatever needs to be done, although birthday cakes are her favorite.
“I like making the children happy,” she said. “And birthday cakes have more fun colors.”
Nichols learned her skills at the feet of Rose McCoy, who owns Creative Cakes and teaches cake decorating classes at Itawamba Community College’s Continuing Education Program.
And even though Nichols been at it for 15 years, she still makes mistakes.
But it’s not a big deal.
“That’s the good thing about icing,” she said, laughing. “If you goof, you just scrape it off and start again. Because mistakes do happen sometimes. Last week, I had to do a giraffe and it had a little bitty head and a big neck. The others were making fun of me. Some days, you have good animal days and some days you don’t.”
Winning certificate
Every three or four years, McCoy takes some of her staff to the International Cake Exploration Societampé’s convention.
ICES members attend these events to expand their skills in sugar art, to learn the latest techniques and see what new gadgets are available. It’s not a competition, although participants do take decorated cakes to show off to one another.
In July 2008, McCoy, Nichols and Holly Estes attended the convention in Orlando, Fla., and took about a half-dozen cakes among them. Nichols took a whimsical, brightly colored two-tiered teapot cake and a more formal three-tiered black and white wedding cake.
The more layers you displayed, the greater your chances were for winning a door prize. Nichols hit the jackpot when she won a certificate for a class with Nicholas Lodge, a renowned sugar artist, culinary judge and master cake decorator in Atlanta.
“I have two years to take the class with him and I haven’t done it yet,” Nichols said “I can’t wait.”
Contact Ginna Parsons at 678-1581 or ginna.parsons@djournal.com

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal