Welcome to The Little Daisy Blog! We are excited to have a place where we can share lots of new information. Do you ever wonder what goes on behind-the-scenes in a bakery kitchen? Would you like recipes to try some yummy things at home? Then this is the blog for you. We’ll show our favorite creations and introduce a few of our favorite customers. And while we’re on a roll… we’ll probably share some random information that we just find interesting.
This year we will celebrate our fifth anniversary, so there are already a lot of stories to tell. Since this is our first blog post, we’ll start from the start…
2011: “You Should Open a Bakery”
It’s 2am in my kitchen at home and I take a look around. The island is covered in a sheet of flour and leftover cutouts of sugar cookie dough. Blank cookies are snugly arranged on cooling racks on the kitchen table. The KitchenAid mixer is making its slow rotation through royal icing, as if chanting a taunting mantra of the work that still lies ahead. Two assembled cakes patiently sit on parchment awaiting their frosting coats, and a cake in the shape of a Harry Potter Sorting Hat is displayed on the dining table ready for pickup in the morning.
I’m behind schedule. The routine is usually to put the kids to bed then start in on the hours of baking and decorating for orders made by family and friends. I time myself by the late night shows: Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, then The Colbert Report, the remainder of David Letterman, then The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. If I’m not cleaning up by the time Craig Ferguson was over, that means trouble.
I’m in trouble. The late shows are over, it’s 2am and there are hours of decorating yet to do, plus a sink full of dishes.
My husband Andrew ambled downstairs, half asleep, and with the deepest sense of empathy says to me, “You can’t continue like this. We need to either make a go of a business or scale it way back. This is killing you.”
What started as making one birthday cake and taking it to a party down the block quickly grew to cakes and cookie favor orders for friends and family every single weekend. I loved doing it. It didn’t seem like work. It was as fun to create and bake as it was rewarding to see the happy kids on their birthdays.
Friends kept saying, “You should open a bakery.” Deep down, I always wanted to have a place of my own. Every time I went in to a bakery I would critique it and discuss with Andrew the ways I would do it differently. But I blew off the idea of opening a place, thinking it would be too much work. It was only a dream.
Then I began receiving calls from people I didn’t know. People who were at parties or heard about what I did and they wanted to order too. Baking for my kids’ schools and friends is one thing, but baking for strangers would be more like a business. My kitchen, equipped with a standard-issue GE oven, became too small and under-powered to accommodate the orders. I started looking in to community kitchens, even asking my church if I could use their kitchen during the week. No luck there so I made plans to turn the garage into a commercial kitchen, which was quickly rejected by the town. Then I saw an ad for a small retail space in Upper Montclair. A catering company was moving and the space was going to be available in a month. With no real plan, I investigated.
I started believing that I really could open a bakery. How hard could it be? I told myself it would be better because I wouldn’t be working late nights anymore. I could do the work during the day while the kids are at school and be open 5 days a week. Sounds great. I put all the ideas I’d come up with over the years into action. I knew I wanted an old-fashioned 1940s theme. I wanted it to be a neighbor hood place where everyone felt at home. I wanted to bake everything from scratch and bake daily. No mixes. No shortcuts. No compromises.
It took six months from signing the lease to Opening Day at the bakery. The stories range from hilarious to devastating, and I look forward to sharing them with you. Stories like the time we hit our neighbor Dunkin Donuts’ water pipe and shut them down for an hour while creating a lake in the front of our bakery; or how I learned to work with landlords, equipment sellers, the township’s historical preservation committee, commissioning awnings, re-doing said awnings, signage and ingredient supply companies. Many of these people did not think I knew what I was doing and I didn’t. But a few people like my husband Andrew, George Anderson Electric, Eric Gustavsen, and my lawyer Larry Slous never underestimated me and they gave me all the support I needed to convert the dream to reality and open the doors at The Little Daisy Bake Shop.
The success of Little Daisy today requires an effort that’s far more elaborate than I ever could have imagined. The bakery thrives because of our team of amazing and creative people who keep us going and enable our evolution. You will hear more about these people in future posts. They’re talented, hardworking, funny, sometimes inappropriate, and they have become family.
When I look back on it now, I realize I had no idea what I was getting into: signing a lease, assuming the risk to pour money into my dream, purchasing thousands of dollars of equipment, hiring staff, and actually opening a business were all new to me. But I was driven, and I knew we had a great product. I had no idea of the work that lay ahead, or the pace that it would require. I had no comprehension of all the risks and rewards. But I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would always wonder, “what if?” Now, when I take the time to look around The Little Daisy, I’m so proud of our team and what we’ve built. It’s way more involved than I could have imagined that night sitting there in my kitchen at 2am. It’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be, but nothing good in life comes easy. How does that saying go? You can’t have your cake and eat it too? Oh wait. We work in a bakery. Yes we can!