Vocation: Cake Designer/Owner at Sweet Heather Anne (http://www.sweetheatheranne.com/)
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
1. What do you currently do now and how did you end up here? Any pit stops along the way and did those pit stops help you get to the career and woman you are now?
I own a Bakery called Sweet Heather Anne. My love for food was cultivated by an inspiring study abroad experience in Italy. After returning, I poured all of my art making efforts into cake. My dream to own a bakery followed a thrilling experience on a Food Network cake competition where I met amazing cake designers from around the country. Starting the business was surprisingly easy compared to building and maintaining it. Early pitfalls included running out of money, not having a business plan, and working relentless hours. My most recent pitfall has been spending too much time working in the business to work on the business.
2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators, or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way?
I have found that when I have a clear goal, and I am engaged in what I am doing, I am happy. When I started, I worked 100 hours a week and wasn’t even able to pay myself, but I was happy. Now that the business has evolved, I try to make sure that I stay engaged, and always work towards a positive goal for the future. There have been moments where I felt completely burnt out and considered closing. To bounce back, I needed to gain perspective and think about what was important to me. I wrote a vision for the business and explored what I really wanted to achieve in that time. Taking the time to think and put those thoughts into writing helped me to rediscover my passion for the work.
3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and a woman in this world? How will you get there?
I would love to have more of a voice in the international cake community. I want to spend more time coming up with designs that challenge me as an artist. To make this time, I need to make sure that the business is running smoothly. I tend to pick up the slack wherever needed, and while I’m doing that, the things I really want to do are left undone. Creating systems for the business to thrive will help me to achieve my personal goals.
4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life, about women in general?
A common misconception about running a bakery is that it is always fun and exciting. Because we do large-scale projects on tight deadlines, there is definitely an exciting component to the job, but bakery work also means long hours doing tedious tasks. I wouldn’t underestimate how many dishes one little bakery can produce. ;)
5. Any advice or tips & tricks you want to give to a younger you? Whether it be how to apt hunt on craigslist to getting your shoes cobbled to getting a work mentor etc
Hmm… this is a good one. When I started the business, I had a very hard time being a leader. I was too afraid of hurting people’s feelings to tell them what I needed them to do, and the business suffered. I would tell myself not to underestimate my employees. They will want to be challenged just as much as I do, and they will appreciate knowing what is expected of them. Also: you look amazing in red lipstick. Don’t wait until you’re 30 to find that out.
BONUS QUESTION: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism? (general thoughts, could be a convergence, could be one or the other!)
Passion all the way. I don’t think I know how to do it any differently.
BONUS BONUS QUESTION: What are you most proud of?
I’m proud to have built a business that exemplifies the things I care about. I believe that our work environment is just as important as the product we create. I also believe that we can always strive to be better.