It has been a long, uncertain road, but earlier this week, I launched my business. Rising Up Bakery exists. Can you believe it? I can't.
Granted, that does not mean it's successful yet. One step at a time. However, it is started, and that has to come before any success.
I sold at two markets this week, one in Northeast Baltimore (Lauraville) and the other close to my house at Druid Hill Park. In spending many hours at farmers markets, sitting at my table with my wares, I came to identify different types of customers. There's the "please don't look at me I'm not interested" type that walks briskly by and avoids eye contact. There's the "I pity you so I will try a sample, but no way will I buy anything" (this is the kind I least like). Also the "I'm interested, but don't want you to know I'm interested, because I don't want to buy anything" customer, who also tries to avoid eye contact. Then, my favorite, the "I'm interested, and I'm moving my hands toward my pockets/purse because I'm going to make a purchase."
The very first person who wandered over to my table was a man who looked like he was on drugs, or coming off them. He was muttering to himself and looked rather distressed. He came over, twice. The second time I asked how he was doing in a loud voice, and he peered at me through his fingers. "Not great," he said, as if that were obvious. He won't buy anything, I thought to myself. Then, much to my astonishment, he grabbed a bag of honey squares and said, "These look good. I'll buy a bag." (!) He peeled a five off of a roll of bills and handed it to me. I was so surprised that I forgot to give him a dollar back in change. He didn't notice, but walked away, pulled out a honey square, and ate it. You just never know.
I was all set to sell granola, but people like the honey squares better, which are like little energy bars made of honey, peanut butter, carob powder, raisins, nuts, and seeds. I will have to triple how much I make next week. The granola was not as successful as I'd hoped, but maybe the more samples I put out, the more people will consider buying it. If not, then I will change my focus to healthy snacks like the honey squares.
Day two at a different market brought a different clientele. It was set in a park, so the atmosphere was more fun, and people seemed more willing to buy. Granola sold really well, as did the ginger-fig-walnut trail mix. A demographic that surprised me is that a lot of men like granola. It seemed like more men than women bought it. One man bought the Sweet and Salty (apricot pistachio) granola and was all excited. Ten minutes later, he walks by with his kids, eating it straight out of the bag. "Man, this is gooooood! I'm about to eat this whole thing."
There are many people I have to thank for helping me get in business. I have had a lot of support along the way, and it looks like it will continue. Mainly, my husband Justin supported my decision to start a business, and did not think I was crazy when I quit my job and no longer had an income (I still don't. It will take quite a while to make a profit).
I took a fabulous business class through Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore (WEB) that equipped me to write a business plan and get started. I found a church, St. Mark's on the Hill, that was willing to provide an affordable kitchen for me to bake out of. And, my friend Gloria of Gloria Shin Designs designed a beautiful logo for my business, and put up with me and my details-minded brain.
Here is my very bare bones, needs a lot of work, website. I will add more to it and may even change the design, but just in case you wanted to know: risingupbakery.com.