Since she was about 15 years old, Melissa Lavender had a dream to own a small café or business. “Throughout my life I thought about it,” says Melissa, “but the time was never right. And honestly, the biggest thing was I never believed I could.”
As the years went by, Melissa worked for various places and ran a cake business out of her home. “My house became the neighborhood spot for cake, cupcake, or cookie decorating for my children and their friends. My kids were surrounded by sprinkles and sweets for all occasions. I enjoyed creating and feeling free to take on whatever jobs I could to stretch my artistic limits,” she adds.
In August of 2017, Melissa’s family decided to make a dramatic change. “We moved to Mount Clemens,” says Melissa. “We loved the potential of the downtown and the community feel.” Over the next few years, more changes were in store for Melissa and her family. “In 2018 my mom passed away, in 2019 I quit a job that I loved because of a toxic boss and negative work environment, and then spring forward to Covid.” After all of this, Melissa knew something had to change.
“I was at home collecting unemployment and now suddenly I was figuring out ways to better myself and grow as an individual rather than a spouse and mom for the first time in my life,” Melissa says. She found herself journaling, listening to podcasts, meditating, painting, and traveling. “Suddenly I started to see a freedom in losing the layers of crap that had come before.”
In late 2020, Melissa’s husband David gave her a nudge to revisit her old dream. “He said you need to open your own business. He began looking at spaces downtown and basically forcing me to believe I could do it.” With her efforts at bettering herself in mind, Melissa decided to take the plunge and make her dream come true.
“We signed the lease in January 2021,” she says. “Through the planning phrase I worked really hard on myself and poured my heart and soul into every square inch of that space to make Clementine’s as special as possible. It truly is an extension of myself and my second home. I love every crazy and beautiful minute of it all,” adds Melissa. “Next to giving birth to my children, this is my proudest accomplishment thus far.”
Speaking of children, Melissa and David are a tight-knit family of four with two children—Vega, age 21, and Vincent, age 18. Avid campers, the family enjoys traveling. Melissa and David recently visited Alaska and have only Hawaii left to see to complete all 50 states. They have plans to visit Hawaii this year to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
When not out seeing the world with her family, you can find Melissa hard at work at Clementine’s Pastries, which recently celebrated its first year in business at 57 Macomb Place in downtown Mount Clemens. Since the shop is Melissa’s home away from home, she and her husband enjoy spending time there and even having a dessert/date night.
When stopping in to fuel your own romantic evening or sweet escape, Melissa suggests some of Clementine’s most popular items, including cinnamon rolls, cream puffs, and cannoli. “All are deliciously made every day,” she adds. Anything chocolate tends to have a romantic feel, notes Melissa, “and we have four select macaron flavors that rotate monthly.”
Melissa loves being in downtown Mount Clemens, especially in the kitchen watching the world go by living the dream she finally made come true. “So many great people visit the city each day and I’m so happy to be a small part of it.”
Find out more about Clementine’s Pastries at clementinespastries.com.