Posted at 11:30 AM
Guest blog post by Yael Krigman, Owner, “Baked by Yael”
The Department of Commerce’s Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CCFBNP) works with faith based and non-profit organizations to promote partnership along with businesses. The following guest blog post highlights Yael Krigman, the owner behind “Baked by Yael." In a question and answer dialogue, learn about this business started and supported by the Washington, D.C. community.
Tell us about your business: Baked by Yael is a woman-owned business in Washington, D.C., specializing in scratch-made cakepops, bagels, rugelach, black and white cookies, and other delicious baked goods. In addition to operating a nut-free and kosher Cakepoppery (located across the street from the National Zoo), Baked by Yael can be found at festivals and farmers markets, delivers locally and ships nationwide, and showcases products at www.BakedbyYael.com.
What is the “Baked by Yael” story? How did you get your start?: When I was in law school in Washington, DC, I made my first bagel because I couldn’t find a good one anywhere. That led to a summer of baking while I studied for the bar exam and joined a law firm. Every week I’d bake a new “Monday Treat” to my colleagues. The first time I made cakepops, people flipped out. That's when I knew I was on to something.
What motivates you as an entrepreneur?: I opened my store across from the National Zoo so I could interact with customers and see their reactions. I’m motivated by the smile of a child who has a cakepop for the first time, or feedback from a corporate customer who featured our products at their event. I’m also motivated by the knowledge that the future of my business is in my hands, and that over 20 employees are depending on me to earn a living.
Starting a business can be a huge endeavor. How did you manage any fears to do it?: My greatest fear is letting people down. I’m fortunate to have many people rooting for me, from friends and family, to my Kickstarter backers, to my employees, to my landlord and bank. Most importantly, every customer expects the high quality I’ve worked hard for my brand to represent. I manage this pressure by focusing on the things I can control about my business, and not dwelling on external issues.
How did your community make a difference in the success of your business?: Many of my early customers and Kickstarter backers were friends and neighbors, and this community spirit really helped me get my business off the ground. I’m also grateful for the support of local synagogues. Baked by Yael is one of very few kosher bakeries in the area, and it’s been a joy to help cater so many families’ special occasions.
What advice would you give someone who is an aspiring entrepreneur?: I could chat for hours with someone looking to start a business, but it all boils down to these things: First, be honest with yourself about whether you want to be responsible for running a company, and all that entails. Second, create a plan that’s innovative, sustainable, and will make you and your customers happy. Next, draw on your entire network for advice, emotional and financial support, and business partnerships. Finally, do constant check-ins with your employees and customers to make sure you spot warning signs early and make adjustments to respond to feedback and improve efficiency.