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:
- Almond Biscotti
- Orange Pistachio Biscotti
- Ricotta Blueberry Scones
- Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
- Apple Cinnamon Muffins
- Chocolate Chia Seed Muffins
- Amish Cinnamon Buns
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...
- Don't spread myself too thin and attempt to bake too many different items.
- Present myself more professionally, be prepared with some information about myself in writing along with a menu/options for them to review.
- Be sure the samples I bring are stellar; not over baked, dry, or lacking in presentation.
- Follow-up, don't be afraid to give a call a few days later.
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.