Archive for November, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 27th, 2015

From our kitchen to yours, we hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin pie, sort of. Tastes like pumpkin, but it's made with butternut squash.

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Holiday Cookie Decorating and Business Workshop

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

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On November 8, SweetAmbs and Baking Fix held a holiday cookie decorating and business workshop for twelve students. The day was split into two parts. In the morning, Amber taught some of her favorite cookie decorating techniques to make beautiful holiday designs. In the afternoon, we learned about the Home-Based Baking Business: an introduction and overview of the necessary steps to running a profitable business.

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The holiday cookies!

Amber demonstrated each technique before students began practicing.

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Cookies were left to dry on sheet trays. A fan promotes faster drying.

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Amber's display table with many of her cookies.

The table was a wealth of ideas for new business owners.

Thank you cookies! A great new product idea.

Amber's demos continued all morning.

Notice how Amber holds the bag and positions her arm.

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    Every student received a box to take home cookies.

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    We took a break and ate lunch provided by SweetAmbs. In the afternoon we talked about the business end of running a successful baking/decorating business.

    Keep an eye on Amber’s website for more upcoming classes. If you’re unable to attend classes at Amber’s studio in New York’s Hudson Valley, you can purchase video tutorials here.

    Notebook!

    Amber has notebooks, calendars, jigsaw puzzles, and note cards available on Zazzle.

    And the latest news: Amber’s decorating cookbook will be published next fall.

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    Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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    Bakery Tour, Clear Flour Bread

    Thursday, November 12th, 2015

    Yesterday was overcast and chilly, a harbinger of things to come. We bundled up and headed to Clear Flour Bread in Brookline, MA, a residential neighborhood near Boston. We hated the traffic, but had heard too many great things about this bakery to stay away.

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    We bought the cute flower loaf, a cinnamon oat bread, and several pastries.

    Production area is directly behind the very small retail space.

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    Customer service was exceptional.

    Home-Based Baking at it’s Best! Visit bakeries often. Market research is the best part of owning a baking business. You never know what can inspire you!

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    Guessing Production Amounts, FAQ

    Thursday, November 5th, 2015

    Week to week, the number of market shoppers can vary greatly. But a covered shopping area when it rains may help keep visitation fairly steady.

    Question: How do you estimate how much to bake when selling at a farmers’ market or festival for the first time? What about when you have a seasonal booth at a farmers’ market? Does it vary week to week?

    Answer: This is not a problem unique to our baking businesses. All industries face this question. But when we’re working with perishables, especially for one-day events, it can be quite challenging. For special events such as a yearly festival, find out the expected turn-out and how many similar vendors will be there. Typically, only 10% of fair-goers purchase baked goods. Divide that number by how many vendors make similar products. For example, if 3,000 is the expected turn-out, 300 shoppers might buy baked goods. If there are two other baked goods vendors, you may sell 100 items. Speculating further, multiply your average product price by 100 and then deduct the vendor fee, cost of goods, travel expenses, and incidentals (are you buying drinks or lunch for yourself?) from the gross amount.

    It’s different when you have a regular booth at the market. You can build up a loyal following and have customers pre-order each week. But many things affect sales – the weather; holidays preceding or following the market day; if any crazy diets are a growing fad (remember the low-carb fad?); and the new products your competitors may bring to the market.

    Do the best you can, and keep track of sales. Eventually you’ll get better at guessing. But know when to cut your losses. Learn from your experiences. Don’t be stupid. Someone once posted on a forum asking for advice. She and her mom were making dozens of products to sell at a weekly flea market. They had no car and used public transportation to haul everything around. There were many weeks when they had no sales even though their prices were cheap. She asked for advice and received numerous responses from people who had no business experience, such as – stick with it you’re not a quitter, sample your products, hold a raffle, drop your prices.

    My response: you need to stop immediately. Every week you are losing money. Find another venue (flea markets are notorious for drawing bargain hunters) and re-evaluate both your products and your pricing. She got rather snippy with me.  Clearly, she was not looking for business advice, only looking for people to support her misguided attempts.

    Home-Based Baking at its Best! If you are in business to make money, please don’t be stupid. Do your market research and don’t take advice from well-meaning but non-business people.

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