Her Epiphany Cakes are edible art – artfully beautiful and positively scrumptious… a feast for the eyes and spirit, as well as the body. Melissa Owen started her cake business when she and her 3 month old son moved to Nelson. He’s almost 12 now and she’s “so happy to be raising [her] son in this wonderful place.” Well, Melissa, we agree: Nelson is a pretty wonderful place, and your cakes help make it so.
Who is the creator at Epiphany Cakes?
Epiphany Cakes employs four people, Nancy, Reiko, Madelyn and Willa. We are a team of ladies who are all extreme foodies. We have a lot of fun in the kitchen, laugh a lot and talk about food and cooking constantly. I am very grateful for my sweet little team.
Where are you located?
Stanley Street in Uphill, Nelson, BC
What do you make?
Organic baking from scratch. I bake cakes and do wholesale baking for the Kootenay Co-op, Oso Negro, Ellison’s Market, Burell’s Grocery, Evergreen (in Crescent Valley) and Homegrown Market (in Nakusp). My goods are always prepared with local free-range eggs (from Twin Spruce Farms in Proctor BC), fair trade organic sugar, and organic flours. I use real butter and real vanilla in my baking – hydrogenated oils. Carrot cakes are prepared with organic carrots, and lemon tarts/desserts are made with organic lemons.
How would you describe your company?
In addition to lots of traditional options that use organic wheat flour, I make gluten free desserts, vegan cakes, and dairy free cakes. I’ve eaten gluten free for the past 7 years and I strive to provide healthy options for people on all diets to enjoy.
How long have you been baking?
I started baking in 2001 when I attended a Baking & Pastry Arts program at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts on Granville Island in Vancouver. After completing the program, I worked all around Vancouver for several years, including making the desserts at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s café! I learned a lot on the job and felt like I wanted to open my own cake shop when my family moved to Nelson in 2005 – my son was just 3 months old then.
What motivated you to start?
I studied Fine Arts at university. I love creative work… working with my hands. Following university, I was looking for a career path that would enable me to be creative hands-on.
One gray Vancouver afternoon, as I was baking a Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake with pretty sugar glaze dripping off of it, I recognized a wonderful, familiar feeling. It was the feeling of getting lost in the creative process. My love of baking began at that moment. I wanted to learn more and immediately enrolled in the Baking and Pastry Arts program at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts on Granville Island and began my studies to become a pastry chef.
Straight from the get-go, baking and cake decorating felt like art-making to me and that, to this day, remains the thing that I love the most about my job: it feels like art.
I worked as a pastry chef in Vancouver until 2005 when my son Nile was born and our family moved to Nelson. In the spring of 2006 I opened my own little cake and pastry shop and called it “Epiphany Cakes” because of the way that lemon bundt cake had changed the course of my life and career.
What are some of your greatest joys?
There are families whose lives I’ve been a part of for over a decade – through cakes!
Can you give an example?
There’s a lovely woman in Fruitvale who comes to Nelson to buy my cakes for of her special occasions. I made her daughter’s Sweet 16 cake, then her daughter’s graduation cake, the same daughter’s cake for university graduation and most recently, I made her a wedding cake (which they transported to the wedding in Kamloops).
Things like that feel so rewarding and special to me. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of people’s special occasions. I also love running into couples whose wedding cakes I’ve made over the years, and to witness their lives evolving, their families growing. It feels really sweet.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
Anyone running a small business can tell you, one can easily fall into the trap of working all of the time. After almost 12 years in business I have gotten better at being sure to carve out time for myself and my son, in order to enjoy all of the things that we love – camping, skiing and road tripping. Even with all of the busy-ness, I feel exceptionally grateful to be able to do this for a living. Many days I step into my bakery and say to myself “This is my job!!” It’s still so much fun & so rewarding. It never gets old.
What is your vision for your company?
I hope to be producing delicious, healthful baked goods for our community for many years to come. My vision is simply to continue to grow.
Why is local food and/or local purchasing important to you?
I love our community. It’s such a special place and a huge part of that is because our community members are so conscious and conscientious. I’ve been running a small business in Nelson for over a decade. I am beyond grateful for all of the support I receive from this community and it inspires me to support other local business as much as possible. It just feels good, and it’s a big part of why I live here.
I love living in such a healthy community; I love having a personal relationships with the vendors from whom I buy my supplies; I love walking into the Co-op and always recognizing so many familiar faces; I love knowing my neighbors; and I love supporting local, and being a part of this incredible, vibrant community.
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op members/customers, what would it be?
I am so grateful for your support of my small business for the past decade plus. I love baking cakes for the people of Nelson and I plan to continue doing it for many years to come.