SugarPunk was originally started to provide desserts and baked goods to a newly-opening coffee and wine bar in Sanford, Steele St. Cafe & Wine Bar. Well, that was back in October, and with one thing and another, it’s still not open (although there is hope that it will do so soon!). Meanwhile, I’ve rent on the kitchen to pay, and all of the permit and licensing and business registration fees to pay, and equipment to purchase, etc. so I’ve been busy looking around to figure out how to bring some money in (rather than watch it all walking away, or perhaps flying away…)
Expanding into doing special orders and an online store was always in the works, it’s just been pushed up a little. Hence the online store-front, and the fall menu. Business via those has been pretty slow – it takes a while to get the word out! Most of my orders so far have been from friends and family – but hey, it’s income! And I get to bake for people I love – what’s not to like about that?
I’ve also been discovering the joys of serendipity. The other day, I got a phone message from a friend. “I just ran into so-and-so from [cafe X], and they’re looking for someone to do desserts, so she was really interested in talking to you, you should give her a call asap!” This ended up being a small restaurant that does some baked goods, but continually gets requests for custom cakes or other desserts, and would like to refer people to a locally-owned business. I took them some slices of leftover thanksgiving desserts (carrot cake, pumpkin cheesecake) and a donut muffin, and she took a bunch of business cards and a fall menu and promised to refer people my way. Awesome!
Yesterday was even more serendipitous. I stopped in to my bank to go ahead and open a business checking account. While I was waiting for someone to be available, I chatted with one of the managers about the business and gave him a card. I then went in to go through the laborious process of opening yet another account and linking it to the old accounts, etc. etc., and towards the end of that he walked into the office, handed me $40 in cash, and said, “I’d like to order a dozen sugar cookies, a dozen molasses cookies, and a dozen chocolate chip cookies, when can I have them?” I sounded him out a little more, and then he told me that if I could have them there by 5pm on Friday, he’d take them to the company holiday party and would put a stack of business cards with them.
“Done deal!” I said. I don’t work on Fridays, so I can spend the morning baking.
Currently, I still need to do more marketing. I’ve put together a lovely Holiday Catalog, but getting it printed has turned into something of a slog (curse you, Open Office and your ‘your picture bores me, I’m going to randomly insert a pointing finger into it’ (I am NOT MAKING THIS UP)). I’ve also come up with the guidelines and pricing for a Dessert of the Month club, and should probably get that publicized so people can get it as gifts for their hard-to-please sweet-tooth relatives who already have too much stuff.
Still haven’t broken even yet, but I gave myself a year to do that, so I’m trying not to be hard on myself. And I’m still loving the baking. So that’s a plus. Now, if only I could get enough orders that I didn’t feel I needed to keep the day job…