One Year in Business: Things I’ve Learned

Time to pop the champagne! This month marks my one year business anniversary. Last August is when I became legit, got my food permit, and signed a contract with a commercial kitchen. Oh, the things I’ve learned! I’d love to share some of the details of my journey and what I’m planning moving forward. It’s been quite a learning experience and I’ve definitely grown as a business owner along the way. Working in the food industry has been a challenge for a self-taught baker like myself—but my passion for food and bringing people together is what keeps me pushing ahead.

Listen to your heart and your gut.

It’s SO important to listen to what your insides are telling you. Let your heart guide you. Let your gut tell you when something doesn’t feel right. Being true to yourself is crucial when starting your own business or brand. If you do things that feel off, it’s going to steer you away from the right direction. It’s one thing to have butterflies as an entrepreneur, but when you feel a pit in the bottom of your stomach, that’s not a good thing!


It’s okay to change your direction.

My gosh, in the beginning I had no idea what was involved in some of my business plans. What I had envisioned in my head was completely different than actually executing them. My Mama tried to warn me, but of course I wouldn’t listen—I had to experience it myself firsthand. That’s okay! Every time you find out what NOT to do, you move towards what you are meant to do.


Community is everything.

I never expected to become part of such a strong group of local entrepreneurs. I randomly joined my local Rising Tide Society Tuesdays Together group for a meeting last summer—and that was one of the best decisions I ever made. These people have become not only my support system in business, but have become such dear friends. I never feel alone or hopeless—I know I can always reach out to someone to chat or brainstorm. And it makes me feel good when I can help others as well—we all want each other to succeed. It’s #ComminityOverCompetition at its finest.


Don’t be so hard on yourself.

We’re all our own worst critics. I’m no exception. But sometimes our perfectionism can really put a burden on us. For every successful business or perfectly-curated Instagram account you see, there’s another story, a struggle, and tons of hard work. Some people find their groove relatively fast, others may take years. Either way it’s okay to go at your own pace—everyone starts somewhere!

Moving forward…

This has been my year of learning—seeing what works in my business, what’s profitable, and what I enjoy the most. At this point in time, I can’t afford to have my own commercial kitchen space, so I will continue to rent. The cost and logistics of renting by the hour don’t allow me to profit from doing event or wedding orders. I’m cutting out those services so I can focus on what makes the most sense and where my passions lie. Otherwise, I’m just going to be running a very expensive hobby (in addition to my full-time art director job)!

Handcrafted Caramels

Soon I’ll be carrying my caramels in some select local stores and also hope to create an online shop. This is an exciting endeavor for me and requires some more work on my end to make it happen. Wish me luck!

Workshops

The true heart of my business has always been the desire to bring people together with food and create memories. The response I’ve gotten so far from my workshops has been absolutely incredible. I’m thrilled to be planning more in the upcoming months and partnering with local businesses. Stay tuned!

Dessert Favors

I’m no longer doing wedding or event desserts, but I WILL be continuing to do custom dessert favor orders whenever possible. I love designing special packaging and getting to be creative with my treats.

Pop-ups & Markets

I have a TON of fun pop-ups and local markets I’ll be attending in the next few months. I truly love connecting one-on-one with people in the community and sharing my  creations.

A very special thank you to my dear friend and photographer Erika Mattingly. She’s been working with me since the beginning and has been instrumental in creating the feel of my brand. Also, I must give thanks to my incredible Mama who is my partner in business, life, and the kitchen. I couldn’t do any of it without her by my side. Thank you to everyone who has supported me this past year—I hope to continue spreading love the way I know how…through the kitchen.

Michigan Cherry Picking + Crisp Recipe

There’s nothing quite like driving out into the country on a beautiful sunny day to go cherry picking in Michigan. I had my heart set on making a cherry crisp and luckily Lehman’s Orchard in Niles still had tart cherries ripe for picking. The July sun was quite hot, but some areas under the fruit trees gave just enough shade. This was my first time picking cherries and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Picking is easy and fun—I got 5 lbs in no time. I was surprised at how naturally bright red the cherries were—almost like cherry tomatoes in the sun.

“Taking the extra step to source your own fruit…you just appreciate it that much more in the baking process.”

Lehman’s Orchard has a do-it-yourself washing station and complimentary cherry pitting, which I took advantage of. There’s something so special about picking and washing your own fruit. Of course, time and season doesn’t always allow…but the end result is so worth it when you take that first bite into warm cherry crisp—berries bursting with flavor.

Tart Cherry Almond Crisp

Ingredients

For the Cherry Pie Filling:

5 cups fresh pitted tart cherries

1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp instant Tapioca

1/2 cup reserved tart cherry juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

For the Crisp Topping:

1 cup flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 stick softened butter

1/4 tsp cinnamon

 

Instructions

In a large saucepan, blend together sugar, tapioca and salt using a whisk. Add cherry juice and stir until well blended; add pitted cherries. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease two 9-inch pie plates or similar size baking dishes. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon then add the butter. Combine with a fork or your hands until medium clumps form. Add almonds and stir to combine. Spoon cooled cherry filling into prepared baking dishes and add topping evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned on top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.