While I have the menu planned, the space decorated, the beer and bourbon list drafted, and the craft & cookbook library envisioned all up in my head... I'm not terribly sure I'd like it. I love the idea of it. But the day-to-day: getting up early in the morning, baking the same thing over and over again, not having days off, dealing with paperwork :: the stuff :: of a baking business doesn't sound totally appealing. When I was little I loved setting everything up to play. I built the lego houses, set up the dolls' tea party, bushwhacked the prickers to build a fort, and then moved on. I didn't like playing in the fort, pretending to have an actual tea party, or move my lego men around their house. I liked creating the vision I had in my head, but then I got bored. I'm afraid opening a bakery might be a lot like building a grown up fort. And, what if my goods aren't any good? I know my friends and family love me and are kind, supportive people, so of course they say my cookies are the best. What about mean old strangers? Can they be wooed to part with their hard earned cash in exchange for a pie of my creation?
Well, the chance to test my dreams and my doubts has fallen into my lucky lap. From a casual conversation with a new friend has sprung the opportunity to bake for one of the great coffee shops downtown, Uncommon Grounds. Reliably busy, and with a pastry case full of diet-breaking-worthy treats from a slew of local bakers, it's my perfect test lab. About once every two weeks I bring in a batch of whatever they ask for. So far, there's been a "non-apple fruit pie", which resulted in a local cranberry pear ginger pie with a crumble top. There have also been two orders of my mini chocolate walnut pies. Baking a few times a month, out of my home, means I get to learn the dreaded 'stuff': costing out ingredients, pricing an order, creating an invoice, what the heck 'sole proprietor' means... as well as start to answer the all important "is this fun for me?" question without quitting my day job or investing any real money.
Though I've only filled three orders, I've already learned a few lessons: I figured out what a sole proprietor is. In fact, I've just sent in the paperwork to become one. Calculating how much it costs to make a batch of cookies involves multiple spreadsheets and is actually really fun. It's hard to make money off of a single pie. You need to make many pies. Microsoft Word make some great invoice templates. I'm not so sure I like being told what to bake... I'm not not sure I like baking the same thing each time. I like the creativity of figuring out a great new recipe. But, perhaps most importantly, it feels pretty dang awesome to cash a check I earned baking pie while drinking wine with girlfriends on a weeknight.... and promptly spend it on butter, without any guilt.
*the rest of that paycheck goes to beer and wine and cheese and chocolate. see what I mean about not being a grown up?