Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jaimie Mertz, owner of The Red Bandana Bakery, located in Bethesda, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Red Bandana is a happy, healthy little bakery in Bethesda, MD. We like to make people happy with celebratory dessert food, but we don’t want to feel guilty about what we’re feeding them, so we try to make it as good for their bodies as it is for their souls. We are 100% gluten-free and offer lots of dairy-free, vegan, keto, and other allergy-friendly baked goods, including custom orders for any dietary restrictions you may have.
Tell us about yourself
I went to culinary school in 2011 with the plan to become a pastry chef. A year later, doctors put my autistic brother Jack on a gluten-free, casein-free diet to try to help with some behavioral issues. I began modifying the recipes and techniques I'd learned in school and on the job and decided there was a need for a bakery that was totally gluten-free to avoid any cross-contamination but also specialized in serving other restricted diets so that all kids could feel included and be able to have a safe birthday cake. I opened my storefront in November 2017, and Jack sadly passed away at the young age of 18 in May of 2018; he has taught me so much and left such a legacy at a very young age.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving and thriving the COVID-19 pandemic has been the hardest thing I've had to do. Still, I stayed safe and managed to both stay afloat and pay off my small business loan with the help of my mom, my staff, and a very supportive community. We started offering online baking classes with supply kits available by curbside pickup and saw our business actually grow during lockdown while having a lot of fun too.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Caring too much is a personal challenge I have with being a business owner. I am constantly thinking about the bakery and making our customers happy, all hours and days of the week. It definitely gives me a sense of purpose, but even when I am falling asleep or on vacation, I am worried about what I can do better, much more than most people would with most jobs.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Only do it if you love it.
- Be ready to work long hours.
- Expect the unexpected.
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.
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