Getting To Know: Melody DeMaris of Melody's Joy
I have so much gratitude for this woman, it's hard to know how to adequately give her a proper introduction. Melody was my first official client. She was the first contract I signed after I went out completely on my own; she took a chance on me, and I'll never forget that. She believed in me from the very beginning and was so generous to give me the most thoughtful feedback. Because of her, I was able to get my feet wet in a very loving and supportive environment.
Melody is a one-of-a-kind human being. She is wise, and gentle, and nurturing, and fun! She brings all of this to her work as a dessert table designer & stylist so that you can add a big something extra to your next event that will ensure you are celebrating well. Her thoughtfulness oozes through every aspect of her work, and I love that her passion for life shines through in every last detail.
Not only is she building an amazing business on her own terms, she is doing it with grace and poise. And not only is she building an incredible business, she is creating a meaningful life surrounded by those she loves and experiences that will leave lasting memories. Melody is all about celebrating this moment, and I have her to thank for showing me how to live with utmost gratitude through every fiber of my being.
Keep reading, and I hope you fall in love with Melody, just like I have. If you ever get the opportunity to get a hug from her, take it. It just might change your life.
I always love to hear the story of how people dreamed their business into being. Can you share with us the origin story for Melody’s Joy?
I have extreme FOMO around auctions, estate sales and flea markets (I’m talking about the kind of FOMO you feel in your bones.) I first started going to auctions outside of Philadelphia where I grew up, this region of the country is an antique mecca. It was only after moving to Austin that I appreciated the access I had to volumes of antiques. Literally, I think the best auction in the whole country takes place on a weekly basis just a few miles from my childhood home, a rural area where, no joke Amish horse and buggy carts line the fields scouring incredible finds at prices you can’t imagine.
When I noticed Austin’s culture embraced vintage, I started going back to Pennsylvania on sourcing trips, packing up 500 or more pounds of boxes at a time of vintage tableware, glassware and home decor and shipping them on skids to Austin to sell at markets and retailers in town. I loved the hunt, the history behind the pieces and sourcing for others. Ultimately this was how MJ was birthed. It was through selling vintage tableware that lead to the outgrowth of my dessert display collection.
Initially I started collecting only early-american pattern glass pedestals. I was also feeling the pull to engage in more creative work in my life and I started styling for events. I embraced the concept of dessert table design which marries both dessert display rentals and tablescape styling. Initially I offered only vintage rentals, but now my inventory has grown significantly and I carry an array of rental styles—modern, rustic, mixed metals and reproduction pieces. My dessert table design service is an upscale offering, but as more people learn about it, there seems to be a special occasion or party in most people's lives where this concept can serve them.
What aspect of this work is the most life-giving for you?
A core value of mine is to create—for me that means create beauty and create experiences. When I design a dessert table it feels like I’m creating a piece of art. I get to focus on the presentation of the food, the appeal of the table and all the styling touches that make the tablescape beautiful. It’s very satisfying to take an environment and bring beauty to it. More than styling, is the joy I get out of connecting with my clients, the party-thrower. Supporting them and helping them create a magical experience for their guests is the why behind what I do and validation that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.
Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?
I have definitely been my own worst critic. I’ve told myself things like “nobody will value your service” and the loudest one has been “nobody will really get what you do” which is still something I struggle with. I provide a niche service. I can tell you that I don’t know one person who does what I do or one person that identifies as a “dessert table designer” haha! But instead of giving up on the concept, I’ve challenged myself to get clear on how I help people, and how I talk about what I do in a way that people understand. With that clarity, I’m growing momentum in my business and feeling very affirmed.
Being able to style a dessert table well, you take a lot of different factors into consideration. Can you share a bit about your process with us?
My process is always thoughtful. I begin by finding out the details of the party—what is being celebrated, what is the look and feel of the party, the guest count and the quantity of desserts being served. People often make the mistake that I’m also the baker, but I partner with bakers to showcase their goods in a creative way.
My ultimate goal for the dessert table is that it’s a staple piece of the party, so the most minute details matter to me. For starters, it’s important to know where the dessert table is going to be set up and what the surrounding area is. For example, is it on an exposed wood table, a marble island or a hallway vanity. I never want the dessert table to look out of place or too busy in the home or venue.
People may not realize it, but it is easy for a tablescape to look disjointed. Part of my design process is making a mock-up for my clients so they get to see what it will look like ahead of time. I ensure that the style of the displays compliment the event and fit the desserts, that the table decor is cohesive and the arrangement of the displays provide both depth and height to the table.
My favorite part of the design process is sourcing the details of each table to yield the most charm. A flowy table runner, a hand-crafted menu, a cluster of blooms—these are design elements that make the table beautiful and memorable.
You have an amazing inventory of gorgeous dessert displays! How often do you source new pieces? And how do you know which ones are the perfect fit to add to the Melody’s Joy collection?
I would say that my collection has easily grown to over 150 display pieces! But as styles change, I continue to source pieces because I want my designs to stay relevant and appealing. As far as finding the “perfect fit” my rule-of-thumb is—I gotta love it to have it in my inventory. You know I only carry the things that bring me joy... haha, did you catch that?!
I’ve gotta ask; do you have a favorite dessert?
It’s a hard sell between strawberry rhubarb (when the rhubarb is perfectly ripe) and a thick chocolate peanut butter milkshake. Please don’t make me choose!
Where do you find inspiration for your tablescapes?
Lately it’s been stores like West Elm and Crate and Barrel. I’ve been really into clean, modern designs. I also follow many Australian bakers and event designers. I’m not quite sure how Australia is so design-forward on dessert tables, but I follow so many of them on Insta. Gotta love IG for the connection to inspiration all over the world.
I was fortunate enough to be included in one of your recent book clubs. (We read You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, for anyone wondering!) So, I’d love to know, what are you currently reading?
I just started Brene Brown’s new book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, and I recently had the opportunity to see her on her book tour in Austin last month. She is known for her research around shame and vulnerability and has been one of the most influential authors in my life. Who wants to join for another book club?!
People may not know that you also have a full-time job. What are some ways that you have found that allow you to pursue Melody’s Joy, while maintaining balance in the other areas of your life?
I’m also a Registered Nurse. I’ve currently chosen a path in my nursing career that offers the flexibility to support my business. It’s not the easiest, but I’m fortunate to make this creative pursuit a priority in my life. I’m holding on to the message that the time is now. I don’t know what the next season of my life will hold, but this is what I want to be doing right now and I’m going for it.
And then of course, there’s the weekly “household meetings” that always helps. This is where I check-in with the hubs, and we talk all things boring around adulting and co-existing. On the upside, we also plan out “QT with my cutie” nights (less pressure than the term “date night”) and that’s been great. Intentional time with the people you love = doing life right. Yes please to more of that.
Since you’re in the business of helping others celebrate well, what would you include at your perfect party?
Is this my cue to say a really well-styled dessert table?! Haha! My idea of “celebrating well” is celebrating in a way that’s meaningful to you. For myself, it’s all about who I’m celebrating with. I’ve had some epic celebrations and they always involve being surrounded by my closest people. I have to say, good music is a close second though.
I’m currently booking for 2017 holiday parties—tell your friends, your mom, and definitely all your mom’s friends! :)
Want to know more? Eager to connect with Melody? Here's how:
- Find Melody on Instagram: @melodysjoy
- Browse her inventory and portfolio work at www.melodysjoy.co
- Sign up for her newsletter at www.melodysjoy.com for updates and inspiration
Totally needing a beautiful dessert table at your next event? Here's how to work with Melody:
Hire her for your next celebration, large or small, backyard or reception.
Her service is a perfect fit for showers, bach parties, dinner parties and birthdays. A styled dessert table is a creative way to level-up your party and guests love them. Go to her website, fill out her questionnaire to get the ball rolling!