Nickel City Gritty: Michele Ogden
Chocolate. One of life's most perfect things.
You know how most people either crave sweet or salty? I have a major sweet tooth all the way, and chocolate is definitely my weakness.
Sure, I could walk to the store and buy a chocolate bar right off of the shelf, but a Hershey bar does not even come close to the incredible taste and beauty that are the bonbons from Whimsy Confections.
Michele Ogden is the owner of Whimsy. She officially opened this first brick and mortar location on Main Street in Buffalo in July of this year. I first met Michele when I was planning to host a chocolate tasting with the Buffalo Blogging Network in her space, and her personality immediately drew me in. She's bright and bubbly and you can tell just how much love and time goes into each and every piece of chocolate that she sells. Seriously, these chocolates are INCREDIBLE. My personal favorite is the Cami: smooth rich caramel in a pretty little pink owl shaped chocolate shell.
Make sure to take a listen to Michele's super fun playlist while you read all about her personal style, her affinity for stalking people, and her obsession with Beyonce.
This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Michele Ogden of Whimsy Confections.
Tell me a little bit about how Whimsy Confections came to be.
About nine years ago, I moved to Washington D.C. When I was living down there, I decided to follow my passion with culinary arts, specifically desserts. I opened up Posh Pastries, which was my dessert business. I made cupcakes, mini tarts, cookies, and did proms and weddings and other special events. One day I was reading Essence magazine and there was a woman in there who was a chocolatier, and they did a profile about her. She was based out of Chicago. I was really fascinated with her, so I sent her an e-mail and she replied and gave me a ton of really good feedback. Every year I would say that I would take the culinary classes, and I would go to the website of The School of Chocolate which is based out of Canada, but I just wouldn't do it. Finally, going on two years now, I decided at the end of the year I would just go ahead and do it and start the program in January, which I did in January of 2016. I started taking the classes and I was like, "Okay, this is cool! I can temper chocolate now!" I do a different method, it's called the tabling method with a big slab of granite. It's really old school. It's like a very sexy dance that you do with chocolate, watching the fluidity change when you work with it and making sure it gets to the right gloss. I fell in love, but there was still a lot of things that I wanted to learn, like painting the chocolate. I bought a ton of equipment but it wasn't working, and I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. The amount of trial and error that goes into making chocolate is crazy. I'm glad that I'm not a quitter! I'm very tenacious and never take no for an answer. Once I finished with school, I decided that it was time to start working on my own business. I went over to WEDI (Westminster Economic Development Initiative) and met Liana, who the Earl Grey bon bon is named after, and she helped me do my business plan, and I was able to get a small business loan to buy the equipment that I needed to start up my business. Around the time that my loan was being approved, I was selected to do the Queen City Pop Up Shop. I made the chocolates out of a church on the West Side, and worked day and night popping these chocolates out! People were really excited about them. Once that was over, I started looking for retail space right away in January. Some friends across the street put me on to this space on Main and said that it would be perfect for me, and they were right. So I opened this little spot! I did 99% of all the work by myself...it was a complete overhaul. Our doors officially opened on July 17th.
Describe your personal style.
I would say my style would be very Issa Rae Awkward Black Girl *laughs* I wear dresses every day, I very rarely wear pants. I only own one pair of sneakers for the gym. My hair is natural, normally it's curly or in an afro or a ponytail. I love jewelry but usually it disappears. I wear lots of black but I prefer color. The reason I say Issa Rae Awkward Black Girl is because she's black, but not in a way that fits into a box. It's kind of difficult to explain but it very much fits for me. I love the Gap, and I think most of the things I buy are from there. I'm a little nerdy...I have my glasses and then I'll wear a little dress with my Toms. Cute and comfortable and a little geeky sometimes.
If you had to describe yourself in five words, what would they be?
Bubbily, optomistic, foodie, ummmm....oh, boujee!
I would sayyyyy....outgoing, or adventurous, or risk taker.
What is one thing that you thought you would grow out of but you haven't?
I love stalking people!
I do, too! I found a REALLY good thing today stalking somebody, and I was like, "Wow! This is interesting!" I was really proud of myself, like YES! Stalking for the win!
You should be a special detective.
I had somebody offer me some type of side gig like that, and I was like no no no...I'll just keep stalking. Thought I would grow out of it, but never did!
At what age do you think you became an adult?
Hmmmm....six years ago. When I was 31. I adopted a dog. You know, I never really had responsibilities, at least none that I thought was "true" responsibilities. For example, I have a job? I can quit. I have an apartment? I can leave. There have been things where I can just walk away from with no real strings attached. When I adopted Foxie, she was five months old. I adopted her two days before Thanksgiving. I told her, "We are in this forever. I will never send you back and I will always take care of you. We will always be together." That was the promise that I made her when I adopted her from the shelter. I would do anything for her, and it helped me get a perspective on my responsibilities and to have a long-term life plan. So, like, what if she gets sick? I have to make sure that I have money for her. She has health insurance! She's my furry child and I take that very seriously.
What is one story that your family always tells about you?
It depends on the family member! You know, my siblings like to bring up the time when my dad found a naked boy in my closet. That story, I think, never gets old! It always gets inappropriately brought up at dinner.
What would you name the autobiography of your life?
Get Your Shit Together!
Do you feel like you have your shit together?
Well, I'm the kind of person where, you will look at the chocolate that I make, and you'll think it's perfect. You'll taste it and think it's perfect. I never think it's perfect. I always find a flaw. I always want something to be better. I always want more and I'm never satisfied. I can find a flaw on anything that I do! I don't know why. I went to City Honors, and I think that it's just been drilled in me to always be better. So would I say that I have my shit together? I feel like I can always do better. I'm in a good place, but there's still things that I want and I'm striving for. You know, my dad would always say, "If you're going to compare yourself, compare yourself to someone who's doing better than you are." Play somebody who's better at chess for example. I'm not into settling.
What are some small things that can make your day better?
COFFEE! Coffee, cuddles with Foxie, ooohhhh a new idea! Yeah, I love randomly getting super cool ideas. I wish I could clone myself so that we could get all of these ideas out there! So, having new ideas, snuggling with my Foxie, and coffee all definitely make my day better.
What really gets under your skin?
I really hate people who see the glass half empty. Me not being happy with something I make is not because I'm a negative person, I just see other possibilities and know what I could do. Sometimes people have the "PMS." The Poor Me Syndrome. It's one thing to have a bad moment, but it's another thing to have a pity party. I think that we are so blessed and privileged and we have so many things going on, and I think that some people don't realize just how amazing their life is. People need to see their potential and all of the great things that they do have. A lot of times they take things for granted that a lot of people would kill to have.
What is currently on your playlist?
Juicy J Bandz A Make Her Dance, Billy Joel Uptown Girl, of course Beyonce is always on my playlist, lots of jazz, I love ratchet hip hop, oh and some 90's music. I definitely have Kris Kross on my list.
"BEYonce made me want to die happy."
What is the best concert you've ever been to?
The Beyonce fan in me would want to say Beyonce. But, I think the one that was the most striking for me, which I never would have thought, was Sade. She was really just unbelievable and breathtaking. I cried. I saw her when I lived in DC. John Legend opened for her. I might have to say that was the best. Although, Beyonce made me want to die happy. I could have dropped dead right at that moment...I had everything I needed and I was happy! But with Sade, I was so glad that I got to see her. It was an emotional experience, I was in tears!
Who is your celebrity crush?
Ooohhh, who is my celebrity crush? Oh! Michael Fassbender!
What is your favorite bar or restaurant in Buffalo?
I love the Angelica Tea Room! It's everything a woman needs in her life: visually beautiful, tea sandwiches, scones, chocolates, French macarons, liquor. The best place that I've ever eaten in Buffalo would be either Lombardo's and Oliver's. I really love Mother's, too.
Would you take Michael Fassbender there?
I would take him ANYWHERE. But probably someplace where there's nobody else around.
What is one movie you can watch over and over again without getting sick of it?
Meet the Fockers and Meet the Parents. I could watch them literally countless times. Hundreds, definitely.
What is your spirit animal?
A chihuahua terrier! Hmmmm...I think my spirit animal would have to be a bee. They fly, and I'm very free-spirited. We need bees to live, which I think is very beautiful. What they do and what they contribute is wonderful, and I always hope that what I'm doing and what I'm contributing helps someone else's life thrive and help them be just a little bit happier. Bees are bright and beautiful and very productive. Also tight-knit with their clique, which is how I feel about people who I really care about. Ooohhh...how about a Queen Bee...like Beyonce!
And my last question that I always ask everybody is what do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be remembered. I want someone to remember me for something. I don't want to just be happy, I don't want to be rich, I don't want to be satisfied...I just want to be remembered. Whether it's a picture they have with the chocolates from their wedding, or whatever that may be.
You can visit Whimsy at 610 Main Street in Buffalo. Michele will be rolling out her limited-edition Holiday flavors very soon, so you aren't going to want to miss these yummy goodies before they are gone for the season!