Part IV: My Future Business Goals — Blogger To Bakery Owner?
It took me quite a bit longer than usual to write this post. I feel like I either had writer’s block or I finally came to terms with how monumentally difficult opening a bakery is. That’s why I added a “?” to this post’s title. I’ve got blogger business goals, but am still unsure of what my future holds. I want to be a bakery owner, but will I ever be a bakery owner? Is this an unrealistic dream of mine?
I worked at a bakery for almost one and a half years and absolutely loved it. Quite often, one of us would look up and say, “Can you believe this is our job? To make cookies and brownies? We literally make a living making other people happy.” Seriously, though, someone probably said this every other week.
Baking is a dream job. Or maybe working in a bakery IS all a dream, since we all get to work super duper early (4am) and are totally delirious for the first hour or so… or until the coffee kicks in ☕️
I mean, of course we’re not making six figures and rolling up in a G-Wagon, but we’re doing what makes us happy. And I want to continue doing what makes me happy. I know I’m only 23 years old, but I’ve spent the majority of my life being overly stressed, depressed, and totally unhappy… I refuse to go back to my old ways. I promise to live my life, not drudge through it.
I’ve got some big blogger business goals. Goals to be happy, to be a positive influence in my community, to run a business, to show people that healthy and delicious desserts DO, in fact, exist…
Hence, why I love my blog’s icon so much.
We call the apple + cupcake combo a “cupcapple”
I often got little glimpses here and there, usually when I was at work or strolling past another bakery, of all that I’d need to consider for a future bakery. Below, I get a bit technical and boring, so feel free to skip it… I just need to put it all
down on paper into words (helps me wrap my head around things sometimes):
What do I want on the menu?
Should I focus on a few types of desserts with a lot of flavor variations (kind of like how a cupcakery does — multiple flavor profiles, but in the end, they’re all still cupcakes), or should I provide a wide range of sweets with 1-2 flavor variations of each (cakes, cupcakes, cookies, bars, brownies, ice creams, etc.)?
How will I display the desserts in the pastry case?
As I’ve learned in the bakery, certain items will fly off the shelves on certain plates/cake stands, while they will bomb on some others (it obviously helps to display everything neatly and in an appetizing manner, but there are different factors that come into play with this. It’s a science, really). For example, we’ve found that our Carrot Cake sells best on a blue cake stand versus the exact same stand in red. Strange, right?
How will I finance all organic/non-GMO/local ingredients? (Only the BEST for my peeps!)
Kudos to the restaurant I worked in for never reducing their quality of ingredients despite how expensive it got! We used organic, non-GMO, local, grass-fed, and so on, ingredients. I just found out that one big box of dates costs $70. YES, seventy dollars for dates. And don’t even get me started on the raw cashews, hazelnuts and pecans. In my future bakery, I want to use the healthiest, most natural (albeit the most expensive) ingredients possible. Obviously, a 50lb bag of organic Sucanat will cost way more than a 50lb bag of White Sugar… a gallon of Organic Pure Maple Syrup will probably cost 7x as much as a gallon of High-Fructose Corn Syrup.
How will I design the kitchen?
This sounds like a silly thing to think about, but it’s really a huge, huge factor in how efficient the kitchen staff is. I’d require a huge walk-in fridge and walk-in freezer with ample shelf space, lots of storage space for room-temperature pantry items, and a large dishwashing station to sanitize everything properly. Everything would need to be stainless steel too, including a portion of the walls. I do not want to be near ANY wood. It gets wet, it molds, it disintegrates, it needs to get replaced, it smells… ugh, it’s not ideal at all.
Funny story: In the bakery world, after your interview and before you actually get the job, you have to complete a test-run, or “stage.” You spend time with the bakery manager/team and make some recipes they pick out for you. I’ve done this twice. Second time was the charm for me because I got the job on round #2! Aaaand because I totally bombed on my first stage haha (although that was a blessing in disguise… I thank the heavens for accidentally botching their Lemon Bar recipe). In my first stage, I hated the kitchen the second I walked in. It was super cramped (like the size of my bedroom), had 1 small table for 3 bakers to work at, ingredients were piled on top of each other so you had to move a million things to get the one you needed, and the freezer was outside in its own separate building thingy. You literally had to walk out of the establishment to go get butter.
Immediately after that “failed interview,” as I like to call it, I applied to the bakery I work at now. And I love it. Oh, and our freezer is in the building.
How will I finance the kitchen?
Finance the kitchen? Say what? Yes, finance the kitchen. I think some of the biggest shockers of working in a restaurant include learning how much industrial-sized kitchen appliances cost. Did you know a large-scale commercial ice cream machine goes for $20,000? That’s more than my car.
How will I design the bakery storefront and walk-in area?
Clean and modern vs. rustic and quaint?
What kind of building do I want?
Side-by-side or standalone? What about seating spaces? And parking spaces?
Where will my bakery be located?
According to Google Analytics, the majority of my readers reside in New York, Texas, and California (who woulda known, the three states that my family and I live in!). Maybe I can run a successful bakery in one of those places?
Should I rent or buy the location?
On one hand, deal with a landlord and steep rent. On the other hand, get a mortgage. Hmmm…
How many employees will I need to hire?
There are so many more things to consider than I even listed, but if I continued any longer they would literally bore you to death. And, the longer I list things off the more I realize how difficult this venture will be. So difficult it seems unrealistic. But then again, so does making a living blogging and baking, and I’m doing that right now… MUST. DEFY. THE ODDS.
Opening up a bakery (or any new business establishment) has some serious costs. Rent/mortgage for a good location, state of the art commercial appliances, quality ingredients, supplies, hiring qualified employees, electricity (gotta power all those fridges, freezers and ovens!), heat/AC (gotta keep customers comfortable!), water, legal fees, insurance, taxes, advertising, money for repairs, blah blah blah.
Although, I’ve gotta say, one thing that makes me a bit more confident in this future business endeavor is knowing that my family is like “the perfect storm” for a truly amazing business…
My father has been in the business/finance industry for decades — he’s great with numbers, negotiating, trading, business communications, etc. Plus, he’s passionate about health, nutrition, weight-training and fitness.
My mother worked in her parents’ shop since she was 9 to when she went to college, and she’s worked in many restaurants in the past — she’s great with design and the logistical side of things, and she’s a perfectionist!
My sister graduated studying business, communications and technology and now works at a tech startup in San Francisco, previously NYC — she’s beyond amazing at sales (at the age of 17, she worked at Teavana and sold a woman $2,000 worth of tea), and she’s great with communications, public relations, and about a million other things. Best of all, she is proficient in social media. She helped me grow my Instagram following from 14 to 23k in just one year!
And me? I graduated studying nutrition and blogged on the side… both were fueled by desserts, of course. I’ve got the knowledge, passion, and know-how to make truly delicious and nutritious sweet treats.
Yes, I totally decked out my graduation cap with SPRINKLES!
There are so many things you need to do to start a business.
The first couple of steps I took to further my blogger business goals included incorporating Desserts With Benefits into a business (so now it’s Desserts With Benefits, Inc.) and trademarking the term, “Desserts With Benefits” (so now it’s Desserts With Benefits®).
My next step is… HAH, I’ve got no clue. I really don’t. Obviously, I’ll need capital and a good track record, so I think over the next few years I’ll define my business plan even further. I’ll keep my head low, work hard, and crawl closer and closer to that future bakery.
All I know is that everything works out in the end — opportunities will arise. Some doors may close, a few more will open. When the time is right to take another step toward my goal, I’ll know it.
In the busyness and chaos of life, sometimes I stand back and randomly remember that I’m a business owner, trademark holder, university graduate, and cookbook author… like, WHAT?!?
What. On. Earth happened between the time when I literally sat on the couch watching TV all day to today?
It was food. FOOD happened.
Dessert and nutrition and the combination of the two sparked something inside me. Food saved my life. Had I never started this blog, I would be completely lost.
No matter what happens, though, I think I’ll always be a food blogger. I get to make cake (and eat it too), shoot pictures, and connect with people all around the world — other food bloggers, fans, new readers… I think I have the two best jobs in the world: blogging and baking!
Despite the harsh realities that seem to bring me back to earth after being all “la-di-da” up in the clouds, owning a bakery will always be a dream of mine. Even if I open one when I’m 50, I’ll be happy.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.
With love and good eats,
PS: Be sure to read the other entries in this 4-part series!