Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wading in the Shallow End

When I left my full-time job in 2008, I knew it was time for a change.  I’d been working in offices since high school.  Although I was confident in my skills and abilities in that environment, and my performance reviews told me I excelled at my work, it was work for which I had become completely dispassionate.  The satisfaction and reward was next to non-existent.  The point of burn out had been reached and it was reflected in my attitude.

So as my husband made the transition from doctoral candidate to Assistant Professor, I made the transition from being an employee of an educational institution to a student of one.  I believe Tug made the transition much easier than I did.  He was now among peers.  I was a nontraditional student among a group of very young culinary students, most of whom were there because they thought they were going to be The Next Food Network Star.  The first year, especially my first semester, was monumentally trying.  The confidence I had previously had in my work was obliterated.  But I made it.

Before leaving my job, many of my friends and colleagues would ask me what I was going to do when I was finished.  Several of them suggested restaurants that were for sale, but that was never a consideration for me.  I did very seriously consider catering.  The more I learned in school, however, the more I realized that may not be for me either.  When I was able to enroll in the baking and pastry courses in my second year, I started to feel my confidence returning.  And when on one project I earned the highest score my instructor had ever given, I felt totally validated.

Since finishing my classes in 2010, I’ve vacillated on how to utilize my education.  I started out baking and decorating wedding cakes and cupcakes.  I still enjoy cake decorating, but it doesn't satisfy my soul and I began to feel restricted by it.  I want to make more than cake.  I want to experiment with flavors and textures, with savory as well as sweet.  I began to think about a bakery.  But how committed was I?  To baking:  totally.  To the amount of debt that would be incurred:  not at all.  I’m practically allergic to debt.  Back to square one.

I floundered a bit.  I started the blog to try to justify my baking and preserving endeavors.  I hoped some great epiphany would come along.  And it did.  Last year I learned of the Cottage Food Bill.  This bill, if passed, would allow for certain home-baked items to be sold at farmers’ markets.  The Governor signed the bill into law last summer, taking effect January 1, 2012.  This is what I needed.

In January, not wanting to do anything on a whim, I started writing a business plan for what I call a “micro-business”.  Last month, I attended a Starting a Small Business workshop.  Next week, I’m meeting with a small business specialist to discuss my business idea and get assistance with finishing my business plan.  I already know I won’t be prepared for the opening day of the farmer’s market this spring.  My goal is for next April.  It will probably take me at least that long to get through the recipes I want to test.  The list I have selected is already 70+ and growing!  (This is why I’ve been making so many graham crackers lately.)  But in this case, the research and development is what I enjoy the most.

So I’m going to take a deep breath and wade right into the shallow end.  The farmer’s market is only a six-month season, one day a week.  But it will give me the opportunity to see how well my products will be received.  It’s a small start, I know, but one with minimal risk and very little debt.  Despite that, I still feel butterflies when I think about it.  It’s ironic that confidence doesn’t come as easily when it’s something I’m so passionate about.


  1. Ah, that definitely explains all the graham cracker tests. What a fantastic endeavor to embark on! It seems really smart to be realistic with the time tables you are setting for yourself. 70 plus recipes to test is quite the undertaking though. I'm looking forward to seeing all of your creations!

    1. I'm excited and scared at the same time, but it's something I want and need to do. Much like the graham crackers, many of the 70 recipes are multiple recipes of the same item. But I am really hoping to introduce customers to things they've never had before - some things I've never had before!


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