These Bake Shop Owners Share the Keys to Their Success

Amanda Olson - Designer behind Anchor ‹A› Digital Design Co. and the Zag Blog

Hi, there!
I’m Amanda – a designer, WordPress guru, and dreamer.

Zag is the Anchor ‹A› blog dedicated to helping you reach your biggest business goals.

Hi Molly & Kate! I came across your bake shop on Instagram and was amazed at your baked goods. They are beautiful and works of art, really.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your journey?

Kate:

While we both come from different backgrounds in terms of education and geography, we ended up at the same bakery in Western New York in early 2013. Prior to our meeting at The Village Bakery, Molly had grown up in a culinary family and always knew she would one day own a bakery. She went to culinary school and worked various positions in different bakery settings. I had grown up working in restaurants since the age of 14, but never considered a career in food. I went to art school and studied textile design in the south and never imagined owning a bakery, let alone living in New York.

Molly was the head pastry manager at a local bakery that specializes in cakes and pastries made from scratch. She hired me (Kate) as an assistant baker and we struck up a friendship. This was my first baking job and Molly was always working on interesting projects. While chatting one day, Molly mentioned that her dream one day would be to open a bakery of her own. I have always jumped in to all opportunities head first and encouraged her to just try. What did she have to lose?

Later that year, I quit the Village Bakery and we started to create desserts for friends and family on word of mouth. Soon, we were getting busier and busier, while still working full time jobs. We quickly realized we needed to work together, out of a commercial kitchen if this was to continue. After searching for a location, a friend of ours, who owns a local boutique told us that the retail space next to hers was opening up. While we weren’t sure if we were ready to take this leap into retail, we went ahead and looked anyway and signed a lease. After having a Kickstarter campaign successfully funded, we completely renovated the entire space, which had previously been a hair salon, into a 650 sq. ft kitchen and retail bakeshop. Finally in January of 2015, we opened and continued to work our other jobs. It didn’t take long before we realized that this was actually working and we needed to focus our sole attention on it. By March we were about to hire our first employee.

In January of 2018 we moved in to our current location which now offers sit down, eat in service and beverages and we now have 10 employees.

Molly:

I spent the majority of my life at home growing up either in the kitchen or doing some sort of arts and crafts project. I have always loved to be hands on and am a very creative minded person. I spent years developing and practicing recipes and knew from a very young age I wanted to own a bakery. My mom raised me to follow my heart and do all the things I love, as well as work hard towards my goals. When I was in college I always was working two jobs full time as well as taking on as many internships and experience that I could to learn and grow. I think that timing is a very magical thing. Kate and I met at the perfect time and she was the strong and powerful force to push me off the cliff to actually make a move to follow my dream. We are a true team and have supported each other in so many ways throughout this process.

You met while working together at a local bakery. Was it pretty early on that you were dreaming about building something together or did that come later?

Kate:

About 5 months after meeting, we talked about how much Molly wanted to own her own bakery. About 4 months after that, we talked about opening our own shop together. People often think we’re old friends, but it’s actually the shop that brought us together.

Molly:

I had always told everyone I met that one day I would open my own bakery. In my head I thought I would follow a plan of getting married, having kids and then one day when I am older and have tons of money saved I would open my own bakery. I always envisioned it to be just me, alone in a bakeshop making cookies and cakes and selling them. Nothing ever goes to plan, and I am so grateful for that. Kate was the first person to ever commit to doing this with me and I couldn’t imagine a better business partner. We are actually very opposite in so many ways and balance each other perfectly.

Since you are a team, can you imagine having done this on your own? What are the perks of starting a business with a partner?

Kate:

Being a partnership is like any other relationship. There’s compromise and sacrifice, but the goal is shared then it’s all worth it. Having a partner is the best when they can encourage you when you have a great idea or reign you in when you go too far, when they can bounce an idea off you and you get to collaborate and make one idea even better. Also, when the day is tough and you need to vent.

Molly:

I think that Kate and I meeting was no accident. Not all partnerships work out, in fact I think a lot of them end up failing. Kate and I were luckily raised in a similar manner, we both have always worked very hard for the things that we want. We both started working at a young age in the restaurant industry. Fast forward to years later and we have very similar morals, values and beliefs. We are both very hard working, very determined and try our best to focus on the positive. I used to imagine doing it all alone but now knowing what I do could never have gone through this without a partner, especially one like Kate.

What is a moment you are most proud of?

Kate:

I personally am most proud of the staff we’ve built and the fact that they feel encouraged by us to pursue their dreams and goals. Whether that’s in baking or not. I feel as though we’ve inspired people that if they try hard enough, they can make something happen for themselves, and that’s incredibly rewarding.

Molly:

I agree with what Kate said above, one of the most important things to us, if not THE most important, is creating a positive work environment and to encourage others to grow, succeed and find happiness. To be a good boss or a good manager you are almost having a to be a psychologist. Everyone has to be treated in a way that individually works for them. We have a great relationship with everyone who has every worked here and I truly value that. I am also very proud of Kate and I. We started Scratch based on a dream and idea. We never made a business plan, we did not have a savings, we put ourselves out there and didn’t give up. We encountered many challenges and got through them all, we have grown and become strong and wonderful people because of it all.

What do you feel has been the most pivotal part of your growth as a business?

Kate:

I think the most pivotal part in growth of any kind is realizing when you need help and asking for it. Sometimes you can’t always do things on your own, and that’s ok. When you understand that and reach out for help, that’s when you grow.

Molly:

I think that us growing as people has been the most pivotal part. We continue to get through challenges with the business, as well as many challenges in our personal lives with positive attitudes. We never give up, we never sulk or focus on negative feelings. We are both very open minded and always have the same goal in mind, to see the business succeed. I think that having an open mind, being willing to change and grow with the seasons is one of the most important things about this.

Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

Kate:

Everywhere! Inspiration comes in all forms from all kinds of people all over the world.

Molly:

Yes, everywhere for sure! I love nature and flowers, I get a lot of inspiration when I spend time outside. The internet has so many tips and tricks, art work, architecture, sometimes ideas just pop into your head out of no of the blue. I think Kate and I are both very intuitive and a lot of times it’s just about going with the flow and following your intuition.

You’ve been featured in some pretty amazing ways. Did those happen on their own or did you pitch for those opportunities?

I think so often people imagine that business owners have all good things to them, but I would venture to say that in many or most cases, the business owners worked to create those opportunities. So I’m curious what the case was for you.

Kate:

When an opportunity presents itself, you have to take advantage of it. It also helps that people love food. They love to look at it, they love to make it, they love to eat it.  With a platform such as Instagram, that makes our work so easily visible to all kinds of viewers, we are able to take advantage of that and create as many opportunities for ourselves as we can.

Molly:

We don’t typically reach out for opportunities and most of the time they fall into our laps. I think that when you’re doing work you love your excited about it and that energy is so well received by others and other people want to be a part of it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Kate:

“Find the balance” My dad told me this when I went to college and I it’s something I try to exercise in my career and everyday life. It might be simple but it’s helped me in many situations to figure out what’s working and what’s not working and how to get to that happy medium.

Molly:

My mom is my go to for advice. The most important thing she taught me is to do all things with love. I try to practice this on a daily basis in all areas of my life. When you focus on the things you love you’re enjoying your life, you’re spreading positive vibes to others and the world becomes a better place, even if just in a little way. If the day ever comes that I don’t love what I’m doing here at Scratch I think then I will have to move on to the next thing. I don’t think that will ever happen though!  

What would you tell someone who’s been wanting to take the leap and try a new idea, but because of fear or otherwise, hasn’t made a move yet?

Kate:

“What’s the worst that can happen?” Even if you fail, that’s a learning experience in itself and it can help you in future endeavors. I’d also rather kick myself than wonder. If you care about something enough, then it’s worth trying at the very least.

Molly:

Fear will always hold you back, you have to approach it from love, not fear. The best way to start is to start talking to people, start writing things down, come up with goals and plans. It’s always nice to talk with someone who has more experience who can guide you and act as a mentor. We’ve had several mentors throughout this whole process and having them to go to for advice has made all the difference in the world.

What’s next for you?

Kate:

Who knows? We’ve talked about teaching more classes or even creating a local Bake Club. But we’re just taking it one day at a time for now.

Molly:

It’s hard for us to plan too far ahead as we are always very busy and working a lot. However we do always have ideas in our heads. We just hit one year in our new shop so now after getting through that first year I think the idea is to figure out how to continue to grow our business in a way that makes sure people are still always excited about us!

Where can people follow along with you?

What did you love from this interview?