New York Tech student Michelle Charidemou holding a cake


Baking Her Way to a Business Degree

March 13, 2024

New York Tech student Michelle Charidemou was just 10 years old when she told her family she wanted to have her own baking business someday. In 2022, she made her dream a reality and launched Baked by Michelle.

Operating out of her home kitchen, the small-business bakery offers desserts like cake pops, cupcakes, cheesecake, custom cakes, and chocolate-covered strawberries, pretzels, marshmallows, and rice crispy treats. With myriad flavors and toppings to choose from, customers’ possibilities are endless. Plus, Charidemou says custom requests that stray slightly beyond the menu’s boundaries are more than welcome.

“When I was younger, my grandmothers stayed with us while visiting from Cyprus, and I was always in the kitchen with them,” Charidemou recalls. “Whether I was simply admiring them making us another delicious dessert or actually helping out, I loved being in the kitchen.”

The activity holds an extra special meaning to the young baker, though, as it helped her navigate one of the most difficult times in her family’s life. Charidemou’s brother was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Nonverbal and often seeking solitude, he challenged her to find ways for the pair to bond. When she was around 8 years old, however, she found that the kitchen offered a unique respite from the loneliness that followed his diagnosis.

“He was, and still is, my best friend, and I tried everything to be able to bond with him. The one thing that brought us together was when I discovered our shared love of baking,” she recalls. “We may not have been able to communicate verbally, but when we were in the kitchen it was like we spoke the same language.”

Baking with her brother at least three times a week for several years was the catalyst for Charidemou’s revelation that it was no longer just a hobby—baking was something she wanted to take much more seriously. “He was my inspiration for opening Baked by Michelle and studying business in college. I want to open a bakery not just for myself but for the both of us,” she says.

Charidemou is in her first year of study toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management, where she is learning the behind-the-scenes elements of successfully owning and running a business. After graduating, the School of Management student is considering earning a master’s degree in finance so she may have a more well-rounded background necessary for her entrepreneurial goals. If everything goes as planned, she hopes to open a brick-and-mortar storefront—ultimately expanding into a second—or even third—location.

As she continues Baked by Michelle at home, Charidemou keeps her skills in top-notch form at her additional place of employment. By no surprise, she is a cake decorator for a bakery. Until her New York Tech graduation in a few years, she is taking her time working and studying, accumulating all the experience and skills she can.

“Starting my business at such a young age was the best decision because I have seen things from so many different perspectives, and I have so much more to see,” says Charidemou, who, since opening Baked by Michelle two years ago, believes business has been consistent enough to portray a bright future for the bakery. “I’ve made so many connections, I’ve built a platform for myself, and I have the time to make and learn from my mistakes now rather than later on.”

As she continues in her father’s footsteps—he is also a business owner—Charidemou aspires to create a community of supporters and make others smile by simply continuing to do what she loves most. With her cake pops and other popular dessert treats, her aspirations are well within reach.