Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joanne Chang, Pastry Chef and Owner of Flour Bakery + Cafe and Myers + Chang, located in Boston, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Flour is a bakery/cafe in Boston featuring cakes, cookies, salads, soups, breakfast pastries, breads, tarts, pies, sandwiches, and warm welcoming service. We serve everyone!
Myers+Chang is a casual fun Asian restaurant serving craveable foods from all over Asia. We also serve everyone!
Tell us about yourself
I graduated with a degree in Applied Math and Economics from Harvard without knowing what I wanted to do as a career. I got a job as a management consultant at The Monitor Group in Cambridge, and I spent two years traveling, writing power point presentations, creating massive Excel worksheets, and attending meetings. I liked the work, but I didn’t see it becoming a long-term career. I looked at my bosses, some of whom I still keep in touch with today and who I respected a huge amount, and realized that I didn’t want to become them eventually. So while my peers were applying to business school or moving on up within Monitor, I decided to take a year off and try my hand at a hobby that I’d always enjoyed immensely: cooking. I had dabbled a bit in baking while in college, selling freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to the student-run dorm grill; it was mostly just to relieve the constant pressure of impossibly difficult problem sets and it was also a way to earn a little spending money. While at Monitor, I continued to cook and bake, mostly just hosting dinner parties with friends and sometimes selling my cookies to co-workers looking for treats for birthday parties and such. But I’d never really thought it would be a career. I simply loved being in the kitchen and when I had to figure out what I should do after Monitor, it seemed like spending a year in a professional kitchen would be a great experience. My first job was in one of the top restaurants in Boston. I started as a prep cook. I then delved into pastry and moved to a bakery, and from there I was hooked. I knew I was meant to be a baker. I worked in Boston and New York and became a pastry chef, learning on the job with every new chef I worked for. Opening a bakery became a dream, and I looked high and low for the right location. We opened our first location in September 2000; we now have nine bakeries, five cookbooks, and a thriving e-commerce business as well. I love what I do - every day I wake and get to make people happy with awesome food and great service.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am super proud that we have always been independently owned - my husband/business partner and I have grown the business ourselves with the help and dedication of our incredible team. We have been able to stay true to our missions of bringing joy to people through wonderful food and warm hospitality.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Whatever it was that you love to do that led you to open your business becomes secondary once you become a business owner; in my experience - running the business becomes the priority. Once I opened Flour, I had to focus on many things other than baking - payroll, hiring, training, bills, etc. You have to figure out how to keep doing the things you love AND operate the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a crystal clear vision of what it is you want your business to be so that you can share it with others.
- Share your vision with your customers...and, more importantly with your team. Your team will be the ones who spread your vision to the world.
- Make sure you are always grateful - to your guests, to your team, to your vendors. It is the right thing to do, AND it will come back to you in spades.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.