Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jonathan Gieseke, owner of Slow Your Dough, located in Lincoln, NE, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run a family-owned bakery specializing in all things scones. Our scones are handmade from scratch, baked fresh, and delivered to your door. We have your staple flavors: Lemon Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Bacon Cheddar, and Caramel Apple, but we also take suggestions! We love to branch out and use our creativity in developing new flavor profiles using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Recently, we made a white chocolate raspberry for Valentine's Day that was a huge hit! We use fresh ingredients, so you know when you order a Cranberry Orange scone, you are getting hand-zested Cara Cara oranges and fresh cranberries. Our icings are always made from scratch and generously drizzled.
Right now, we are a local delivery service, following Nebraska Cottage Food Laws, but we have great plans to expand beyond our hometown. We have a wide range of customers and have catered many events, such as bridal and baby showers, yoga classes, and graduation parties. We frequently deliver to schools, businesses, and hospitals, and we have even fulfilled a few late-night scone cravings!
Tell us about yourself
I (Jon) am the head baker, though my wife (Sam) helps collaborate on flavors, ideas... and taste testing. I have been in the food industry for over a decade. I've worked in a lot of different kinds of kitchens, trying to absorb as much cooking knowledge as possible to diversify my skills. I've cooked for a long time in Mexican restaurants, vegan comfort food, bar food, and plated meals, and catered both large and small intimate events. I have worked in every position in the restaurant to better understand what it takes to run a successful food-based business. When the lunch rush is low, you can find me washing dishes or mixing drinks!
COVID restrictions started the day I brought my first baby home from the hospital. The restaurant industry took a huge hit, and I lost my job. In hindsight, this was a blessing in disguise because I was able to spend time with my new growing family. I used this time to care for my wife, bond with my daughter (Norah Mae), and explore an area of the kitchen I was least familiar with and a little intimidated by. I joined the rest of the world in exploring baked goods, baking everything from baguettes to cinnamon rolls, focaccia, biscuits, and pretzels. I baked so much that my wife was getting annoyed by the amount of bread tempting her daily. I started giving to family, neighbors, and friends, and soon people wanted to place orders! I had lots of encouragement from friends and other local business owners, and the requests were piling up. It seemed overnight; that I had a successful business venture at my fingertips.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking the leap to put myself out there. While I admit I am my biggest critic, I found it extremely difficult to open myself up to feedback from the public. It's been eye-opening and has built up my confidence in my baking. I want every scone to be perfect and every customer to enjoy each bite.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
To go back to the previous question, subjecting myself to public feedback was and still is one of the hardest things I do each day. Also, spending time away from my family to start a new business while still working two jobs full time has been a struggle. The balance of home and work life has been something I am still trying to navigate, and we have another baby on the way!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you choose something you are passionate about and motivated by.
- Stay true to who you are and remember your values as you grow your business and make big decisions.
- Remember your why and surround yourself with people who are supportive.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I wasn't aware of the number of people in our town that would label themselves as "scone-fanatics." Since I started baking scones in the last couple of years, a lot of people have expressed how much they love them. The food industry business has always been a fun place for me to be because I get to meet new people and talk about the food I love to create. It has been exciting to hear other people's flavor suggestions, and I look forward to new ones! Our most popular is a Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese which was a suggestion from a friend.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.