Have you noticed lots of new small-scale businesses popping up since quarantine began? We noticed that trend, too. So we spoke to three brand new business owners about what it’s like to start a business during quarantine, and how they logistically get it all done.
Meet The Bakers:
How did you decide to take the leap into starting your business?
Thy: With the initial shutdown in March and loss of household income, I knew we would need to find a way to make some extra money during this time, knowing full well that it could potentially be long-term. At the time I also noticed a lot of folks stocking up on items that have more longevity on the shelf because of limited resources, and less fresh food. With some baking knowledge and food handler’s permits in hand, I thought selling bread and offering no-contact pickup and delivery options would be a solid way of bringing fresh bread to the community while also creating some needed income.
Britt: The morning of the earthquake I was awake making bread for a couple of friends. The earthquake was my first. I felt an overwhelming urge to do something to make ends meet.
Mandy: Losing my job to COVID was the main push. These doughnuts have been in the back of my mind for a long time, and I was waiting for the perfect moment!
Do you have a day job? How much of your time is this business taking up?
Thy: I do have a day job! By day I am a full-time marketing manager for Salt Lake Community College and am also currently pursuing a graduate degree. Mims SLC is around 20 hours a week for me at this time, though in the beginning it was much more while I was trying to figure out all the logistics. Tripp, who now does most of the baking, is putting in around 35-40 hours a week.
Britt: I do not have a day job. Franck’s Restaurant in Holladay was my job during the shutdown. I ran to-go orders to cars. They are a fantastic establishment. I am choosing to not serve tables for the time being.
I’d say in a perfect world, everyone would order by Sunday night and I could get all of the baking and deliveries done in three days. Everyone orders differently. In the beginning I was working everyday. Now I try to keep it Monday-Thursday and my regulars get their deliveries on Fridays.
Mandy: Nope! Full time doughnut lady. I work Monday-Saturday. Probably much more than full time, but so worth it!
What was it like to begin selling a product during this pandemic? How has COVID-19 forced you to pivot your business plan?
Thy: I knew that trying to start a small business during this pandemic was risky and there was a lot of fear that nobody would want the product because they already have access to bread at any grocery store. I think what we offered that other places don’t is a fresh, artisan bread with no preservatives, baked to order. It became something special for us to be able to provide this to folks, especially with the option of no-contact delivery, making it more convenient for them during this odd time.
Britt: Since I started during the pandemic, my business model was tailored to it. I will continue to deliver bread.
Mandy: It was incredibly stress-inducing and nerve-racking. But it also felt magical and organic. “Spreading sunshine” felt exactly like what our community could use during these uncertain times. The only pivot was to actually start the company! The delivery system was a no brainer.
What has been the most difficult part of running your business right now?
Thy: The most difficult part of running the business right now is not having a formal website yet. All the ordering takes place through Instagram messages and that leaves room for clerical errors and takes me more time than it should. However, I really love chatting with our customers/new friends through Instagram, so I’m a little worried about moving to an online ordering service and losing that piece. I will have to find a way to strike a balance because meeting new people in our community has been one of my favorite and most rewarding aspects of this business so far… and I’m an introvert!
Britt: The most difficult part about running a business right now is doing it all by myself. I have strict rules for my social life. Only a handful of friends I see that also take quarantine seriously. Always in a mask. I’d like to hire some help eventually. And finding yeast.
Mandy: Knowing when/how to grow, and trusting my intuition. I want to please our customers, but I also want to always do what feels right in my gut.
What is the most rewarding part of being a business owner so far?
Britt: When I left my last sales job I said I wanted to bake and not talk to anyone for a while.So I have got sooo much reading done using audible books. I’d say the most rewarding part is bringing people to joy of fresh hot bread. For the older crowd they seem to really be taken back to a more simple time.
Mandy: Seeing others be passionate about Mad Dough with me. I’ve had an immense amount of help and support from friends and family along the way. That kind of energy is tangible and beautiful. For me, Mad Dough feels like the ultimate form of self expression, and that feels really good.
What support are you looking for right now to help your business grow?
Thy: In order to grow the business, I really hope for continued and growing support from our existing customers as well as new ones. Down the line, I hope to work with some investors so I can move to a commercial space, but I am patient. Currently looking for someone to help us with a website and ordering system, and an accountant to help ensure I can keep this going long-term.
Britt: The support I am looking for now is a delivery driver two days a week. Also I would like to pick an established bakers brain on using larger equipment. I’d like to see what software is available for ordering through my website. I’d like to be connected with more egg farmers. I have someone in mind for my logo designer. But I would like a stamp made. Also I want to participate in feeding children in my zip code that have parents in need of some bread!
Mandy: I’m currently looking for the perfect kitchen to fit our needs. We want to feel inspired in the kitchen we work in, so we’re picky, but we know the right one will come!