10 years ago, smack in the middle of May 2008, I took the leap. I said goodbye to being an employee, and transitioned my "on-the-side" bakery project to a full-time business. Technically I started Batter in March of 2006, delivering my first order to a VC on Sand Hill Road just days before my own birthday. For those first couple of years, though, I still had the security of a full-time job, a paycheck, benefits... you know, those "normal" things. As I reflect back on the past ten years, my mind and heart is flooded with memories and snapshots of experiences, tastes, smells, sounds, and people. I'm not a sappy, teary, soap box-y type entrepreneur who always wants to talk about feelings, but today I've been overwhelmed with allllll the feels, including a whole lot of tears.
I remember how that summer of 2008 was terrifying, with only my first few wholesale and catering clients, and definitely nothing resembling startup capital. I remember rolling out of bed early every single morning to deliver my orders, and staying at the kitchen late into the night scooping cookies and scrubbing dishes. I can feel the sun on my back as we sanded and stained shelves for the kiosk. I remember the giddy squeal I let out the first time I saw the "Battermobile" mini cooper with its logo and polka dot racing stripes. I can vividly recall the quirks of every oven and kitchen I've ever used (6 kitchens in total). I remember my first employee interview, and my original crew of five amazing ladies. I wish I had a photo Rolodex for the hundreds of staff I've had since then. I can feel the thrill of our first press feature, our first "big gig", our first holiday season. I can so clearly recall the anxious excitement as I signed my name on lease documents for various shops and pop-ups, and the feeling of terror waking up some days wondering if my bank account was at zero. I can smell the raw wood that reminds me of every shop or kitchen construction project I've been a part of. I can feel the tears streaming down my face, from exhaustion, stress, fear, and frustration created by so many hurdles I've overcome. I can see boxes and boxes of baked goods piled high for "the biggest order we've ever had," which somehow keeps getting bigger every year. I can feel the bear hugs from fellow food business owners, who are some of the few who actually "get it." I can see the disappointed faces of friends and loved ones who I've had to cancel on, repeatedly, because someone called in sick. I can feel the adrenaline as I walked on set on The Food Network, and hear the wobble in my voice during my first public recipe demo. I can taste the original versions of recipes that have been changed time and time again. I can see the burn scars all up and down my arms. I could go on for pages, or probably even write a book (not joking) with all the events and memories of these past ten years.
When I started my business, I remember saying over and over, "in ten years, this.." or "in ten years, that.." I claimed that I was starting my business at such a young age so that, if I didn't like doing it after ten years, I'd still be in my early thirties and able to pursue an entirely different career. I don't think I could have painted any kind of picture back then that could have captured everything that Batter has brought with it along the way. I think back on that bright-eyed baby face who had never worked in any sort of food service job before, thinking she could just start a business in a major city, with no experience, no reputation, and no money. I'm not sure if it was luck, insanity, or teeth-gritting perseverance that got me through the first many years. As most entrepreneurs would attest, probably a combination of all three.
I've seen so many friends have so many babies in the last ten years. Last weekend at our farmers markets, many customers asked, " Are you a mom?" My most common response was a sideways grin and a gesture toward my tables. "Yes. This has been my child for the past ten years." Sarcasm aside, I actually do feel that way. I've loved it, nurtured it, watched it grow, struggle, and change; sacrificed everything for it, resented it at times, lost so much sleep for it, forgotten to take care of myself for it. The list of parallels could probably go on forever.
I wish I had captured every moment of the past ten years on video, since only I can see ALL the memories. Ten years down, with no plans of stopping anytime soon, so maybe I should start those videos now. In summary? THIS BAKERY LIFE IS CRAZY, but I still do love it. Eat a Sand Angel® this week (or month) and help us celebrate a decade.