Starting my own pastry business...

Joined Jan 15, 2001
I've been thinking about going out on my own more and more each day. Ideally, a small shop selling high-end cookies, cakes and select pastries(kinda like Mazzie's on Shaddock Ave. in Berkeley). We recently moved from L.A. to a Seattle suburb, and several people have made comments on how much good bakeries/pastryshops(heck, even donut shops) are needed up here. I have 10 years of professional pastry under my belt and an addiction for perfecting recipes when at home. So I have the product, but not the "know how" of how to start from scratch. I'm thinking start small by leasing a commercial kitchen and just put my product out there(sample them to businesses, friends, offices,etc.). Once word of mouth is out, we'll be able to afford a storefront.
What do the seasoned pros think? I need all the advice and info I can get, both good and bad, since so much risk is involved.
Joined May 29, 1999
Buy at auction.
Keep things simple.
Do what you do best.
Can't wait to hear you have opened!
Best of luck!
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Well as you know this has been an off and on discussion for me as well, through-out the years.

I think I learned the most this past year when I worked at a local small bakery and I also be-friended Cindy (who does visit here but hasn't posted, YET!) whom lives locally and owns her own bakery.

Working in a bakery is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT then being a pastry chef! Seriously more different then I really had envisioned or would have believed had I not done it personally!!

I'm glad I took the time and experienced it. It broke some mis-conceptions I had about bakeries and showed me some "problems" that I hadn't previously thought of.

I highly reccomend you experience what you seek to do, before investing your money. Hopefully my friend Cindy will have the time to contribute (although it's her busy season). She is new to this suburban area just like you are new to yours. That's probably a discussion in its' self...because some notions of your area may or may not be correct. I think she got fed a little bs from the village she set up business in....

other details: well, there's tons of them!!!! and you pretty much know I represent the overly conservative/negative side and Jeff will give you the overly positive side. Somewhere in-between lies reality.

I sincerely would love to see you do this and be a huge success!!!!!!!! You've been a wonderful computor freind with great help and advice over the years. I'll do my best to help you anyway I can....always.
Joined Mar 4, 2000
Like Wendy, I have considered doing my own gig several times over the years, but the reality aspect of it always got in the way. It takes a special person to go with the ups and downs without becoming overly jaded.

There are people who really enjoy handling all aspects of the business. I hope that you have the patience and optimism to see your dream through. The talent is there. With that and a little luck, success will follow.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
Thanks mbrown, momo and Wendy. Most of my experience has been in bakeries. So the tough part for me is actually the initial set-up, marketing, etc. I'm scared of the risk, but hubby and I are willing to make it happen. Ideally, he'll take care of the customer service part(it's a gift he has, very sociable/patient with the public) while I take care of the product development. I'm spending my time researching on how to start, but I would love to hear from people that actually have made it happen. Yes, I've already gotten in contact with Jeff. Wendy, I'd love to hear from you friend Cindy.
Joined Mar 7, 2001
Angry I opened a bakery a little over a year ago and it has been one **** of an experience. I was told over and over how much a bakery was needed in Ripon. The reality has been so far that the public(retail customer) doesn't even seem to know I am here. I advertise do crazy specials like free bread with any purchase blah blah blah....However my wholesale business is doing very well and with the new year I plan on adding 6 new accounts to my wholesale business. So I would cultivate a wholesale clientel and have the retail if needed as a courtesy more than a nessesity. I really wish it was different and maybe in the future it will. Then again I could close my front doors and just expand my wholesale business more. My advice is to get in touch with the state department of commerce and find out how bakeries are doing in your state. Get in touch with the city department of commerce find out what they can time with a professional business planner, do they have a Main Street program with grants available to small businesses. I would be happy to send you a copy of my business plan if that would help.
Good Luck
Joined Nov 27, 2001
There is an organization in many of the larger communities in the US called SCORE. I forget exactly what it stands for but they are a group of retired business men/women that volunteer their time to help people like you. They can give you all kinds of advice on how to start, how to make a business plan, where to look for info, what to expect, how to market, etc. etc. This is free to you. I would check into it by you and see what they can do for you. My sis-in-law used them, they have given me info., and have been very helpful. This is especially good if you are looking to address concerns.

HTH! Good luck!
Joined Mar 6, 2001
The technical start up info. comes from your state. I found all the numbers online at my states site. All you have to do is tell them your starting a business and need a tax number. They'll send you a tax package with tons of info. and forms (if you ask for it). They even have a "how to" packet for new businesses that will explain everything you need to do. My states web site had all the info I ever needed.

I found my local heath department was very nice and would tell me anything I wanted to know about what they accept and don't. Then when looking for locations I also found calling the cities planning board helpful to some extent with leads of spaces.

I can't think of the exact title of the thread I had but others here posted great info for me to follow. If you can find that it will be helpful for you. Kuan also is a weath of tech. info.

Here are some sites I thought had good info. on starting a business: (but you need to use Oregons intitals, I don't know them)! I liked this site alot, scroll down to the small business info.

My experience with SCORE was I had to be pushy to get anything back from them. Even so they never mailed me info on any of their classes available. I was disappointed with my area rep. but the people in your area might be much better.

Also I think it's really important to do your paper work ahead. I gathered as much info as possible on similar businesses, getting their price lists (wholesale and retail) and what they were offering. Yes, your business will be different then any others but the second you contact prospective accounts they want details about product and prices. Look professional and have all your duck in a row. A bad first impression is hard to fix. Just as don't open your doors unless your looking and tasting great. Bad words spread faster then good words.

I have copies of wedding cake contracts if you need them. Cindy advertised in a local mailer with a coupon, I thought that was nice!

Finding help in some areas can be a nightmare!! Make certain you have a source for skilled help. Not necesarily a cooking school source but some areas you can't even find unskilled help that will work for min. wage.

Also since your good with the computor...I did all my own business cards and literature myself to save money. I thought Microsoft Publisher was a breeze to use and looked as professional as any product I've seen. I found it easy to import my photos into it and write up brocures.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
Wendy, those are all great ideas. I did check out the SCORE chapter in Seattle and will give them a call today. I recall a similar thread---I'll have to search it out. So many things to consider! Not to mention the brainpower we're using thinking up a name!
Joined Jul 28, 2001
other details: well, there's tons of them!!!! and you pretty much know I represent the overly conservative/negative side and Jeff will give you the overly positive side. Somewhere in-between lies reality.

Jeff never said that ownership is easy. And Wendy is right, if you have a overly positive attitude you will have an edge.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
A friend of mine had a cookie business out of his house. He had an approved kitchen and a big mixer and a large electric deck oven and was "The Cookie Man". Packaged and labeled his cookies for resale and sold them all over the area. Did pretty good and the guy did'nt know squat about pastry, just a few cookie recipes and a need to be an entrepeneur. The thing I learned from "The Cookie Man" was that knowing how to sell a product and make money from food was as important, if not more important than the fineness of the product, or the comprehensiveness of baking knowledge. The moral of that? Keep it simple. Keep it a business and don't make it an emotional issue.
Top Bottom