MADE is a paid partnership with Little Lake County
Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. Today it is our pleasure to introduce you to Melissa Norton. Melissa is the Owner of Holcomb Hollow in Mundelein.
Melissa’s laugh is bubbly and distinctive. I can usually find her wherever we are meeting, usually someplace locally owned, by her infectious bubbly laugh. In a world trying to conform to standards and ideal decided by the masses, Melissa stands out
Melissa’s journey to entrepreneurship started, as many do, with taking lemons and making lemonade, or in this case jam. After being laid off from corporate America Melissa used resources and classes available to entrepreneurs at College of Lake County to learn food handling while she honed her kitchen craft.
Melissa’s love and care extends beyond humans to the environment and animals that share this space with us. She chose to build her company as a vegan business, ensuring she wasn’t contributing to animal mismanagement. In her life she eats as humanly as possible and having Holcomb Hollow be vegan insures her company is humane as well.
Melissa’s interesting take on flavor combinations- fruit and pepper, onion jam, marmalades, developed a following at local farmers markets where she was selling. She soon grew out of her home kitchen into a commercial kitchen she rented from another local business. As her fan base grew her loyal followers started looking for more vegan items, specifically if she could make
This was in the early 2000’s when gluten-free was not as widely available as it is today. Her loyal customers were looking for vegan and gluten-free options that would taste as good and have as unique flavor options as her jam had.
Melissa set to work in her kitchen trying recipe after recipe to perfect the best gluten-free baked items you will taste. If you are not a baker you might not realize just how much of a science project baking is. You need to have the right ratios of dry to wet and you need agents to make it rise and hold together. Everytime you remove one thing or substitute another it changes everything. When you remove both gluten and eggs the structure of your bake is missing and you need to find
As with any experiment the early versions weren’t always perfect but Melissa’s loyal fans loved the taste and encouraged her to keep trying. Melissa spent a year tweaking recipes and ingredients until she landed on what is now the signature Holcomb Hollow banana bread and muffin recipes.
Melissa has a love for adventure and flavors from around the world. You can see this in the interesting flavor combinations and products that Holcomb Hollow makes. Now in her own commercial kitchen in Mundelein Melissa keeps changing up the vegan, gluten-free and dairy free treats that they make. Keeping up with both trends and seasonal flavors.
I am not gluten-free and I have fallen in love with several of her products. They are delicious and unless someone told you they were gluten-free and vegan you would have no reason to believe they were anything than a traditionally baked treat.
Holcomb Hollow is the only dedicated gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free location in Lake County where kids can have cooking birthday parties. While she no longer makes jam, her gluten-free donuts make up for it. Several times a month they hold pop-ups at the bakery, usually around a theme, where you can pop in and try new and interesting flavors.
If you can’t make it to a pop-up you can find their artisan muffins, bread, and cookies all over Lake County at:
- Hansa Coffee Locations
- Lake St. Bean
- Picnic Basket
- LF Juice
- Corner Health Foods
- Read Between the Lynes
They are also in corporate and school cafeterias throughout the area.
Melissa is very active in the Mundelein community, is a member of the Mundelein Business Alliance and works with Mundelein High School’s business incubator. She’s a champion for local business and can often be seen frequenting local shops. I personally have been so blessed to get to know Melissa and be in groups with her as she is always smiling and so supportive of other business owners.
Holcomb Hollow is very much a family run business with Melissa’s husband and children either working full-time or help out both behind the scenes and in the bakery. What she has built is a true testament to hard work and staying true to your values.
Disclosure: Holcomb Hollow is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. All thoughts and opinions belong to the writer of the story. If you are interested in featuring your locally-owned business in our series, please contact the sales team.