HIGHLIGHTING ILIA MELENDEZ
Meet Ilia Melendez... she's the mastermind behind Goodies by Ilia, a Central Florida home-baked online dessert shop. After 15 years in the hospitality industry, Ilia was furloughed due to the pandemic. Using this opportunity to explore new avenues, she decided to bring her sweet and savory "goodies" from her kitchen to your home. Ilia prides herself in specializing in home-baked cookies, crepe cakes, and traditional Latin treats all at affordable pricing.
H&F: Please describe your career prior to this venture.
Ilia: I was a Senior Event Manager at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace for almost
4 years. I have worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years.
H&F: How has your career prepared you for what is next?
Ilia: One thing that we know for sure in the events world is that things change, last
minute requests are quite common. Even though as event managers we are
always asking all of the questions and preparing for those last-minute requests,
they still happen. However, what happened in 2020 was something that no one
could see coming. It happened so quickly, just days/weeks. I was definitely not
prepared for it, but I took it one day at a time and here we are almost a year later.
H&F: Tell us about how you have redefined yourself. Describe your project, business, brand and/or platform.
Ilia: I have always had a passion for cooking, baking, and of course eating. For years, I
baked and brought goodies to work. I always made the same recipes and
everyone loved them. However, since being in quarantine, I had time to try out
other recipes and experiment more in the kitchen. I must say my boyfriend was
definitely an influence as he kept letting me know what he liked and I thought to
myself “I can make this!” That is how I started making scones, pecan pies,
muffins, banana bread, cookies, etc. I have always been known for making
different kinds of cookies and my famous tres leches which I stopped making
some time in 2019 but started again in 2020.
H&F: How did your project get started? When/how did you get that “light bulb” moment to start this brand?
Ilia: Visiting different farmers markets and outdoor events during the fall of 2020, I realized
I could maybe make this a business. I started telling my group of friends my plans
and they were like finally! So that is how Goodies By Ilia started. I must say I was
blown away by the great response from friends and family. I was extremely busy
during the Holiday season and now I am getting ready to release Valentine’s Day
specials. As I embarked on this new venture, I realized that I am learning new
recipes constantly and trying new goodies to share with everyone.
H&F: Tell us something unique about your brand. What do you want the world to know?
Ilia: Goodies by Ilia is a passion project. I love cooking and baking to make people
happy. Food in general makes people happy!
H&F: What is the meaning behind your brand name, or why is it special to you?
Ilia: For years when I brought cookies or any baked goodies anywhere everyone
always said “we love your goodies”, “when are you bringing us more goodies?!”
So it was very easy to get inspiration for the name.
H&F: What encouraging advice would you offer someone unsure about starting their own
Ilia: Do it, the rest will fall into place.
H&F: Anything else you want to share?
Ilia: As I move forward with this project, I think in the future I will be incorporating
some cooking and other fun stuff for everyone to enjoy.
Follow Ilia on Instagram @goodiesbyilia
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