Melody Pierce says cake was “never in the cards” — and for that matter, neither was Texas.
The Phoenix native landed in Dallas-Fort Worth after visiting the University of Dallas on the recommendation of a school counselor. She fell in love with the school, met her future husband that very same day and resolved to move to the Lone Star State.
After graduating with a master’s degree in psychology, she worked in a therapeutic treatment center for children before “finding her niche” as a school counselor.
“Almost every job I’ve ever had has revolved around children,” says Pierce, 38. “I just enjoy them. I always wanted to be a mom.”
She got her wish just a few short years after marrying her college sweetheart Jason. First came Jude, 9, and then came Helena, 7.
Pierce left her counseling position to be a stay-at-home mom, and when Jude’s second birthday rolled around, the seed for a career she never predicted was planted: professional cake decorating.
“Really, it started with my mom,” she says. “When I was a kid, parties were a huge part of our life. My mom always made a cake, and I would help decorate. When my son’s birthday was coming up I thought, ‘I’m going to make a cake like my mom used to make for me.’”
The cake turned out better than expected, and things, in her words, “snowballed from there.” After years of practice and much trial and error, she launched Dough Re Mi Designs, a Fort Worth-based custom cake service, two years ago.
Do you consider yourself to be self-taught?
I’ve taken classes and attended cake shows, but I’m self-taught in that I come home and practice. There are a lot of other cake artists and decorators that I’ve learned from along the way. I just haven’t gone to culinary school.
Do you make an elaborate cake for every birthday?
Yes, it’s a tradition. It started with my son’s second birthday and we haven’t missed a party since. When I did that first cake seven years ago, I don’t even know how it stood. But my little boy loved it and that’s why I kept going. Their faces when they wake up in the morning and see their birthday cake — even though Mommy has maybe only slept for a couple of hours — make it all worth it.
Any major cake fails?
Definitely. There were cake disaster stories, but they were at home. I didn’t want to open a business until I felt confident that I could provide a quality product. I didn’t want to experiment on my customers.
How do you develop your recipes?
My mom always baked from scratch, so I had a lot of recipes that she gave me. I would tweak them a little bit and develop my own. I came up with a repertoire of tried-and-true recipes that people enjoyed. Everything I make is from scratch, even the fondant. If you’re going to order a custom cake then the inside should be as custom as the outside.
Do you have an all-time favorite cake design?
I did a standing ice cream cone cake for my little girl that was 2 1/2-feet tall. It was my very first structured cake. My neighbor does some woodwork and actually helped me build it. I sketch things out on paper, but it’s so much different when it’s in front of you. Sometimes I step back and go, “Wow, did I make that?”
You work from home. How do you balance long hours in the kitchen with caring for two kids?
I always make sure the kids come first. That’s important to me. I didn’t want them to be sitting at home while Mom was baking in the kitchen all day. I take maybe 2–3 orders a week. There may be a week where I don’t have any. It just kind of depends.
How long does a single order take you?
If it’s a single-tier cake, it takes about a week. I work on it all week long.
Do you have a favorite bakery around town?
Stir Crazy Baked Goods. We love to go down there.
Hardest thing about being a mom
Handling the unexpected and coming to grips with the idea that you don’t have a lot of control anymore. You have these little forces that came into your life, and they don’t really know a schedule or care what you’re doing. That surprised me when I became a mom. I think I’ve become more easygoing. It’s made me more flexible.
Best thing about being a mom
Watching the kids learn and sharing things that I love with them. Sometimes, it’s almost like reliving [my] own childhood.
Favorite spots around Fort Worth
We bike ride quite a bit. We love to go down the Trinity Trail. We try to take advantage of the events that go on around town, whether it’s the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo or Mayfest or an art show. I think it’s neat that there’s always so much going on around here. My husband and I enjoy going down to Magnolia Avenue. We’re slowly working our way down the road, trying new restaurants each time we get out.
If you could have any superpower in the world
I always think, “Why can’t I be like Samantha on Bewitched and just wrinkle my nose and have everything done?”