Remembrance: To know Montclair’s ‘Miss Nicky’ was a treat
Francesca Mesiah’s very first memory of her sister, Nicolette, was from when Francesca was just 4 years old and Nicky was 6.
“Because I was little and I had little wrists, and we were at the store, I remember Nicky telling me what bracelets I couldn’t wear because they were too big for my wrist,” Francesca Mesiah said. “And I would go Christmas shopping and get the family gifts downtown. And when we were downtown, she would help me with picking a bracelet, because for Nicky, it was always about fashion.”
Nicky Mesiah would grow up to become the founder and owner of Miss Nicky’s Gourmet Toffee and Mesiah Event Planners, known for health-conscious treats including her BFE (Butterless, flourless, eggless) cookies. She retired from the business in just the last few months. She was known throughout Montclair as “Miss Nicky.”
She died March 29 at the age of 67, after a battle with breast cancer.
Leza Mesiah’s fondest memory of her sister was from just a few years ago, when they both went to Universal Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Leza Mesiah remembers walking alongside her sister through Hogwarts, drinking butterbeer, going to the Gringotts Wizarding Bank and pretending to get their money out of there.
“And one year I took everybody to Italy, where Nicky knew how to buy — and at the same time, save money. She was really good at that,” Leza Mesiah said. “Even when you’re buying something because there were so many vendors on the streets, she just could tell the difference between the fakes. She just had an eye for that kind of thing.”
Leza and Francesca Mesiah remember their sister as someone who was always outgoing, a natural leader, a great organizer and perfectionist.
“When most kids in kindergarten would color outside of the line, Nicky was always a perfectionist, and she colored between the lines and everything was always perfect,” Francesca Mesiah said.
They attended the same elementary school in Buffalo, New York, and Nicky Mesiah, who was a few years older, would check on Francesca every single day to see how she was doing, she said. The sisters would speak at the door between classes.
“She would come into the class because it was a smaller school and she would talk to everybody,” Francesca Mesiah said. “So, everyone would say ‘Nicky, Nicky.’ She was like part of the day. And many of those same friends, she remained in contact with.”
Francesca Mesiah said her sister was active in politics from an early age. She became class president when she was in high school, and worked on a local campaign for Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman in Congress and in 1972 became the first to seek a presidential nomination through one of the two major political parties.
“I came into the house one day and sat at the dining room table with these white men in dark suits and white shirts,” Francesca Mesiah said. “And that was the Secret Service, who were talking with Nicky and my mother, because Shirley Chisholm could have possibly stopped at our house in Buffalo.”
Francesca Mesiah said that Nicky also worked on judicial campaigns for two Black judges, both of whom retired over the past 10 years. But Nicky wasn’t only part of political campaigns for Black politicians.
“She was instrumental in getting out votes for our councilman where we live in Buffalo, New York,” Francesca Mesiah said. “So, she worked in a great amount of diversity.”
Leza Mesiah said after graduating college, Nicky moved to New York City and worked for Coty Cosmetics, owned by Pfizer. She said out of the 100 employees who worked in the company, Nicky was in the top 1% in sales and made the company’s President’s Club.
Leza Mesiah said that after working for the cosmetic company for 20 years, Nicky began her event planning and gourmet treats business. Her offerings have been featured on national programs including “The “Today Show,” and the BFE cookie was developed for Montclair resident and makeup entrepreneur Bobbi Brown, according to Nicky Messiah’s LinkedIn profile.
According to her website, after studying at Peter Kump’s Cooking School in New York, she moved to Montclair in 1985. She began cooking for small groups of friends and families and volunteered at the Montclair YMCA. She began making homemade desserts, including her gourmet toffee.
Francesca Mesiah said her sister helped cancer patients in New Jersey with makeup and with hair. She said Nicky was a proponent of women helping women.
Debbie Galant, co-founder of Baristanet.com, knew Nicky for the past 14 years. She remembers in 2015, when Gallant was diagnosed with cancer, Mesiah was very supportive and named a cookie after her.
“[Mesiah] brought a big plateful of Nicky’s cookies, and I’m standing there on my porch and my husband’s standing on my porch … and she’s just there for me,” Galant said. “She named a cookie after me to make me feel better and in honor of my fighting cancer.”
Galant said one word that could describe Nicky Mesiah is “confident,” because she seemed comfortable in her own skin. She said Nicky never whined or fretted over her decisions; she knew herself.
“And ‘vital.’ She had vitality. She always showed up 100%. She was so alive,” Galant said.
She volunteered with dozens of Montclair-area community groups, and in support of dozens of events and fundraisers; a comprehensive list is at MissNickys.com. She was on the community advisory board of HomeCorp, was a former board member with the Montclair YMCA, was an instructor and volunteer at the Adult School of Montclair and was a participant in fundraisers for Toni’s Kitchen.
She was featured in Brown’s 25th anniversary “Be Who You Are” campaign.
Francesca and Leza Mesiah said their sister’s obituary is still being written. In lieu of flowers, the family wants anyone interested to donate to the Frank Mesiah Family Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, 726 Exchange St., Suite 525, Buffalo, New York 14210.
In addition to running her toffee and event planning business, she was an anchor for the online Boomer Radio Network and a contributing anchor for the Women’s Radio Network, according to her LinkedIn profile.
More information will be provided by the family as it becomes available.