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!
PLEASE open a bakery in NYC so I can move there and work for you!!! <3 Shoot for the moon Jess, you have an incredible future ahead. 🙂
OMG if I opened a bakery I would totally hire a fellow food blogger!! Especially you!! Thanks so much for your support Marina 😀
Lol, I didn’t even notice the bottom of the cupcake is an apple. I just thought it was a reddish cupcake liner 🙂
It’s really great you have the chance to try out how it is to work in a bakery so it’s not just an abstract dream you have but really see what it means to run it. I’m sure it will come in handy to make your own successful, if you get to it.
I have a question: do you work in a healthy bakery or a regular one? I’m asking because I wonder if as a health conscious person and baker it isn’t a moral dilemma working in preparing “regular” sweet treats with margarine, chemical shortening, white refined sugar and flour, artificial colourings, etc. Doesn’t it bother you? Just wondering 🙂
And yay for having such a great family, full of assets and allies 😉 Good luck, crossing my fingers for you! 🙂
I work at a healthy bakery! 😀
Well, “healthy” in that all the ingredients are organic, non-GMO, local and gluten-free 😉
We use unrefined sugar and maple syrup, lots of oats, that sort of stuff, and have tons of vegan options. I mean, I wouldn’t call it “nutritionally balanced” because not everything has the optimal ratio of healthy fats+complex carbs+fiber+protein… but it’s still 504928x better than typical bakeries. The first bakery where I had my “failed stage,” it wasn’t healthy AT ALL. The lemon bars I ruined used white sugar, white flour, non-organic butter, hydrogenated shortening… ugh, even if I HAD survived my stage, I would probably have to quit in a month. Or a week. I could never be happy working at a place where I potentially AID in someone get diabetes or clogged arteries.
Thanks so much for your comments, you made my day! 😀
It’d be amazing if you opened a bakery in the Bay Area – I’d totally be a regular! You’d also be able to see your sister more often… 😉
That’s a win-win now isn’t it?! 😉
I think a healthy bakery would do veeeery well in the Bay Area. It’d be so nice to have you as a regular! 😀
A bakery would be so cool! I would love you to open one somewhere in L.A.!
Thanks so much Cassie!! I think L.A. would be a GREAT place to open up a healthy bakery 😀
Of all the posts in your series, this last one is my favorite. I love everything you make. Your photos are so edgy and modern, too (and drool-worthy). Thank you for your candidness in each post! Not one second of your writing bores me! I dream of opening a bakery when I’m old and wrinkly. 🙂 I love what you do and your casual writing style. Please open a bakery so you can write about the experience!
Awww thanks Brooke! I’m so glad you liked this post, my writing, and my photography 😀
If I open up a bakery, or even start to think about it more and more, I’ll DEFINITELY write a post (or seven) about it!
What a great post! I feel like many of us have these dreams but we are scared or don’t know where to start to make them come true. Life is such a journey and can bring so many pleasures!
Good luck to you and hope your wishes become true sooner rather than later!!
Awww thank you so much Ieva! I don’t want fear to hold me back, I want to open up this bakery no matter how difficult it may be! 😀
I’m sure your dreams feel like an insurmountable mountain right now, but they’ll come to you organically. Experience and hard work will make your visions clearer and your desires greater. Eventually, you’ll become an unstoppable force, and nothing on earth could get in your way… Because that’s the feeling I get when I make sushi! It’s always difficult, and you’ll have to be strong. But the stars always find a way of aligning themselves! It’s fate!
Loved reading about your dreams of becoming a bakery owner. I’ve had similar ambitions in the past, and there is definitely SO much to think about. This year coming ahead will be an interesting one, and I may just have to take some leaps myself. Everything happens for a reason though, right?!
Best of luck to you, and can’t wait to see your bakery open 😉 <3
Awwww thank you so much Ashley!! If I get closer in this journey, I’ll definitely write a blog post or a few about it 😀
I wish you the best in your journey as well!!
I wish you luck in your potential future endeavors! On a side note, I find it difficult to find some of the things that you have in your recipes! Maybe this is a topic for email, but worth a shot 🙂 I wish healthy wasn’t expensive..
Thank you so much Jill!! It truly means a lot to hear that right now!
As for the ingredients in my recipes, have you tried getting them online? My favorite stores are Amazon.com, iHerb.com and ThriveMarket.com. The prices online are cheaper than prices in actual stores! Hope this helps 😀
Hi Jessica, I too,thank you for this post, inspiring, and exciting for your dreams and future. I’ve been following you for a few years now and I admire your vision. Excellency isn’t a matter of age. And you have embraced what you love very young. Well done so far, and I am sure you will have a great success. If you open it in NY, we Europeans will be able to visit it more easily!! I wanted to be a baker since I was 12 or 13, but in 1996, at the time I sent my application at Lenotre school, in France, they accepted only boys. Policy changed only in 1990!! I had enrolled in law school and was finishing my second year. Needless to say that baking has always been a central,part of my life. You don’t get rid easily of what is inside of you. A life after, truly -I am now 44- and after recently publishing a first cooking book -a tributo to my father’s restaurant best recipes- and finishing to write a pastry one -exclusively mines- I am being proposed to help setting up an organic bakery. I am still a lawyer though.. I wish that like you I would be working with a team in some bakery, finishing to make up my mind. It’s a big change. And all the questions you have written down come to me too, and your answers will be an excellent source of reflection to me too. So Thank you for sharing your insights about planning your bakery. All the best.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me Patricia! A HUGE congrats on publishing your first cookbook and moving onto the second — that’s incredible. I wish you and that bakery all the best! I bet it’ll do great, you sound so talented and smart. YOU ROCK 😀
I did not read through this blog, but I do remember reading recently that you left the bakery and are waiting for and working towards what comes next. Have you ever thought about setting up a kitchen at expos, fairs, or malls? Or…have you ever considered approaching a local TV station for a spot on the local news or other type of talk show? I think you would be perfect for TV. You offer quality in every aspect of your blog. Your food is delicious, nutritious and downright important for people with a sweet tooth that have to get off sugar, not to mention that you are a good writer, intelligent, funny, attractive, and relatable (if that’s a word). You have a defining signature, Desserts with Benefits…it’s perfect.
Amanda, your comment made me smile for about an entire hour today 🙂
I’ll be quitting my job in exactly one month and I’m trying to think about what’s next. I never even thought about going to expos or going on TV! Those are some amazing ideas. I thought about possibly renting a kitchen space to host healthy baking classes, going to the farmer’s market, and selling food locally or maybe even online to anyone in the US… still not sure yet! Hopefully I’ll get a clue once I have more time to think, plan, and actually DO things.
You are so kind and so thoughtful, thank you so much for saying all that. It’s people like you that make me want to continue blogging and become a better person <3
Have an AMAZING weekend!
Wow Jess! I recently found you and the next thing I know, I have been reading your post for like more than 1,5 hours! They are awesome! I can relate to you in soo so many ways! Even if we talk about blogging and baking, big dreams, starting small! I am also learning nutrition, just started my blog, and I am such a big sweet tooth for sure! The way you compose your words, you are literally reading my mind and talking from my heart! You are such an inspiration! I am glad I found you! I will be a loyal follower, no doubt!
Judit, you have no idea how much your comment means to me!! I’m SO so glad you found my blog and I’m happy to have “met” a fellow sweet tooth, nutrition-lover, blogger, and dreamer <3
I wish you the very best with your blog of your own!! 🙂
Thanks a lot, I appreciate it! Have a lovely Easter time!
Jess if you open a bakery.
I want to work there.
Sounds cray I am austrian/ half from mexico & worked in mexico in a bakery of my aunt & earned a gastronomy diploma in vienna, n worked in several restaurants as well as human resources sector.
i love love love baking.
and you seem like the coolest person ever.
i am in, i would move somewhere for that!
Oh my god, of course!! I hope I can own a bakery or similar type of business someday, and would love to hire passionate foodies with a background in health and nutrition. How cool that you worked in your aunt’s bakery! I didn’t realize how much work went on behind the scenes in bakeries until I worked in one myself… definitely a tough job but being able to make dessert for a living is totally worth it 🙂
It was so great connecting with you Lisa! <3
Well, my first attempt at a comment totally crashed. I mentioned looking into the food segment on a local station, a WW recipe guy I follow, Mudhustler, does the occasional food segment on his local station. Another thought, food truck. My cousins wedding was catered by food trucks. However, the cake wasn’t, she manages a bakery that is pretty awesome. She left her studies in criminal justice to bake, now she’s getting her MBA to better run the business.
Keep up the great recipes!
Thank you so much for the support!! Glad you like all the recipes 🙂 🙂 🙂