Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If at first you don't succeed...

I wasn't quite sure what the title of this post should be because I wanted to tell you all about the story of my recent jump into putting myself out there.  But, I also wanted to talk a little bit about my successful first attempt at mini pies using Mason Jar lids.

First, I'll explain how my husband helped push me towards my first step [on this journey I'm beginning] to becoming more than just a home baker.  I had mentioned many times to him that I would love to be able to bake for a living and that I thought a great starting point would be to bake for some local coffee shops and small eateries.  
The Sunday, two weeks before my baby was due, we decided to check out the newest coffee shop that just opened up in our neighborhood.  As we entered, I noticed right away that there was no sign of baked goods in sight.  Not even a cookie jar of Biscotti or even prepackaged granola bars.  My husband, son, and I took a seat to enjoy our coffees, sans any type of baked treat, and I mentioned my observation.  We also observed that the next group of customers asked what selection of baked goods they had and the cashier told them that since they are so new they weren't sure how much to order and that they had sold out for the day.  (Mind you this was about an hour before closing.)
My husband immediately told me I should go up to the counter and say, "I bake, can I bring you some samples?"  I was hesitant and felt intimidated.  He said, "OK, I'll do it for you."  So, on our way out he went for it.  He told the barista (whom we thought was the owner) that my wife bakes, can she bring some samples.  He asked me what I can bake, I rattled off some things and he mentioned that he would be interested in scones.
So, the pressure was on, I really had to do this.  I needed to bake some samples for my first potential client.  The next couple of days I spent time trying to find the perfect font for my business name, started a rough draft of a menu pamphlet, bought some supplies I needed, and looked up recipes for things to bake.  It was eventually the end of the week and I hadn't really completed anything.  I had wanted to present myself in a professional way, to show this coffee shop owner that I was a legitimate baker.  My husband said that stuff doesn't matter, just bake the goods and write your name and number on the box.
So, Saturday came and I had my list of what I was going to bake.
And, oh what a list I had:
  1. Bagels
  2. Almond Biscotti
  3. Orange Pistachio Biscotti
  4. Ricotta Blueberry Scones
  5. Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
  6. Apple Cinnamon Muffins
  7. Chocolate Chia Seed Muffins
  8. Amish Cinnamon Buns 
One could say I was over ambitious with this list.  I baked for over 15 hours that day, all while being nine months pregnant.  This was a Saturday, I wanted to deliver everything Sunday morning, one week after we had first visited the coffee shop, and only 5 days till my due date.  But, I did it.  I even had to bake the Poppy Seed scones twice, because the first batch did not come out right.  The bagels did not come out the way I wanted either, they were deflated and some of them were soggy and a bit raw.  That didn't matter so much though, because I had plenty of other things to showcase my baking skills.
Sunday morning came, I placed two bakery boxes full of my creations in a bag and was off to make my first delivery.
I walk into the shop and my heart began to sink a little as I see the, once empty counter top, filled with glass cases of what clearly looked like professionally made baked treats.  No matter, I told myself, he could still like one or two of what I made and add it to his collection.
I ordered a Vanilla Chai and said with a smile, something to the affect of, here are the samples I said I would bring. 
Joe, who turned out to be the owner, did remembered me.  As I was waiting for my Chai, he said he hoped it wasn't too inconvenient to have baked for him.  And I thought to myself; man, you have no idea how long I spent on these things.  But, with a smile, saying, "Oh no, not at all."  He said he would give them a try after it slowed down a little.  He thanked me for bringing the samples and I went on my way.
Here we are one month later and I still haven't heard back from Joe.

Some mistakes to avoid next time I put myself out there...

  1.  Don't spread myself too thin and attempt to bake too many different items.
  2.  Present myself more professionally, be prepared with some information about myself in writing along with a menu/options for them to review.
  3. Be sure the samples I bring are stellar; not over baked, dry, or lacking in presentation.  
  4. Follow-up, don't be afraid to give a call a few days later.
After researching and reading articles about creating a baking business.  My biggest take-a-way is, become great at one signature item.  I can be more creative and expand on more items down the road; but, with most successful bakeries, they are really good at one particular product.

After lots of thought and consideration, I have decided that my key item will be pie.  The great thing about pie is that the options are limitless.  I can still be creative in my flavors and my ingredient combinations as long as I perfect the crust.

My first attempt at mini pies using Mason Jar lids turned out great!

My son loved them, too!  After all, who doesn't love pie?

I will continue writing about my adventures in making pastry and perfecting my pie crust in the next few posts.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An (overdue) time for a change...

I struggled with the title to this post because I couldn't quite pinpoint the exact intent on my next move.  What do I mean by, "my next move"?  Well, I've been reflecting on what would make me happy to be doing everyday (as I tend to do from time to time).  And, I'm sure lots of people also do.  However, not a lot of people have the ability, freedom, courage, instinct, or know-how to choose a career that makes them truly happy.  I can't say that I regret every decision I've made up to this point but, I would have surely picked some different ones, if only I could go back.  After several hours, days, even years of contemplating on:
What should I do?,
What am I good at?,
and of course more importantly,
What do I have a passion for?
I have, with no doubt now, decided that I would really love to make a career out of my love of baking.

With that being said; I am going to shift the purpose of this blog to become one that showcases my journey into building a baking business.  Using baby-steps, I plan on practicing and perfecting recipes, researching the competition, reading and self-teaching myself about new cooking and baking techniques, as well as, finding ways to put myself out there.  I'll map out some of my goals and plans of exactly how I can accomplish these goals.  I'll, pretty openly, share my successes and failures along the way.

Realistically, with a new-born baby, a three year old son, and a husband that all rely on me for many different things, as well as, a part-time job; this journey will not be an easy one.  But, I'm pretty sure if it were easy then it might not be worth it.

I have already made a few steps into my journey that I will share with you on my next post.  I'll talk about how I dove head-first into my decision with the help of my husband.  I'll give away the ending it was my first "failure."  Although, really, with every defeat comes a learning experience.  So, I've looked back on it as just that.

I'll explain it soon...  Here are a couple of pictures of one of the recently baked products (and oh, there have been many).  I made authentic, classic almond biscotti.

Till next time,