PIECE OF CAKE: After 18 years in the fashion industry, Seth Horowitz is using his business acumen and color sense in a different way as Baked by Melissa’s new chief executive officer.
He succeeds founder Brian Bushell, who encouraged his sister Melissa Ben-Ishay to go home and bake cupcakes on the day she was fired from her assistant media planner job at Deutsch advertising in 2008. Bushell will remain on the company’s board.
With 13 stores, Baked by Melissa also has an e-commerce business. The New York-based company bakes bite-size, colorful cupcakes and cupcake mosaics. President and chief product officer Ben-Ishay once created a mosaic of actor Steve Buscemi’s face using 4,000 cupcakes for a “Boardwalk Empire” event. “Steve stood by that display all night. Now we’ve realized that cupcake mosaics are an amazing opportunity and everyone should have them,” she said.
During New York Fashion Week in February, Ben-Ishay collaborated with Jeremy Scott, designing a cupcake inspired by swatches from his collection. Baked by Melissa plans to offer more limited-edition items, as it once did with four designers through a CFDA partnership. Ben-Ishay said, “We’ve done work with Justin Bieber, one of my personal favorites — the Grateful Dead, the John Lennon Educational tour bus, ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘ Boardwalk Empire.’ There will be much more of that in the future.”
Horowitz said he appreciates the power of celebrity collaborations, having linked Donna Karan and Pony when he was chief operating officer of the Iconix Brand Group. He exited that company last year. Prior to that, he served as president of Modell’s Sporting Goods, revamping the 122-year-old family-owned chain’s stores.
Horowitz knows the ins and outs of New York’s fashion industry, having grown up in it. His father George, who died in 2005, was the chairman and chief executive officer of Everlast Worldwide Inc. Working up the corporate ladder, Seth Horowitz took on the ceo role at Everlast Worldwide, broadening the wholesale and licensing businesses, securing a Norma Kamali and Everlast collaboration and selling the company to Sport Direct in 2007 for $168 million.
Referring to Baked by Melissa, he said, “Melissa and Brian have built an amazing brand with a very strong connection to the consumer through retail and a very strong e-commerce business. With my background, I look at the opportunity to expand not only through retail and gift giving, but also opportunities in wholesale and franchising.”
With a daughter and two sons, Horowitz said his new job has other perks. “This is the best job a father could have.”