Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Maren Close, Owner of Lazy Lady Baking Company, located in Johnson City, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Lazy Lady Baking Co is a small-scale, from-scratch bakery and cafe located in Johnson City, Tennessee. We specialize in sweet and savory pastries, cakes, pies, and other bakes. We also offer event catering for bridal and baby showers, weddings, birthdays, and office events. Our customers are looking for something different than what other bakeries in the area offer, adventurous eaters who want to help support not only our small business but local farms and area producers. We have a wide demographic of young families, professionals, artists, and older generations that come in and support us.
Tell us about yourself
I come from a long line of really great cooks. A home-cooked dinner was a staple in my childhood, and every celebration centered around food. I got interested in baking in high school but got a degree in photography before going to pastry school. I moved to San Francisco after graduating to really hone my craft. I worked in a lot of different types of pastry kitchens over the years, really learning about quality and seasonal ingredients and the benefits of making everything from scratch. I moved back to my hometown to open Lazy Lady in an area that didn't have much in the way of a real bakery at the time. The city has grown so much, and now several bakeries are open, all doing different things. Baking is my way of adding to the family legacy, so I'm motivated by that and also by my community. There's so much support for what I want to do and the kinds of things I offer. The community allows me to experiment with new ideas. Seeing a long line of familiar and new faces every weekend really keeps me going.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think it's keeping people excited about what we're doing every week. It took longer than expected to open the retail shop, but now that it's finally open, seeing how people respond is such a joy.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Currently, it's the rising cost of ingredients. I don't want to price out my customers or my wholesale clients. That's really something I need to keep in mind every time I order ingredients and prepare my menus every week. Another thing is keeping up with demand; things change week to week, and running out of pastries before closing disappoints the customer and me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start lining up customers as soon as possible, start networking and marketing early on. In the long run, even though my shop took longer than anticipated, the wait kept people coming back.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Having a support system is so important, so you can bounce ideas off of people or have them test products for you.
- Be passionate and stay passionate. Burnout is kind of inevitable, but find ways to keep yourself passionate about the work you create. Take time to find new inspiration or work on ideas you've had for a while.
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.
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