This is a follow up story for Kyra's Bake Shop, LLC. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey! I’m Kyra, founder of Kyra’s Bake Shop, which is an artisan-crafted gluten-free bakery and cafe. While everything we make is gluten-free, we also accommodate other food allergies, to be better than any “regular” pastry equivalent. If you ever make it to one of our locations and manage to snag one of our ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls, you will understand why we have such a dedicated and loyal following!
I started the business in 2009, and thanks to quite a few appearances on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, we amassed a nationwide following (that now extends internationally, as our episodes are aired in other countries).
Late in the fall of 2019, we opened our second location, right before the pandemic hit. Oof!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
When we first spoke, I was feeling really good about the business; proud of the products we were creating, grateful to a hardworking and fun team, excited by the revenue we were generating, on a growth trajectory. In February of 2019, we started thinking about expanding the business and opening another location and were in talks with developers outside of Tokyo, Japan, as well as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to license the concept. While we were pursuing these opportunities and opened the second bakeshop in the trendy Alphabet District near downtown Portland in the fall, the global pandemic halted any sort of travel or expansion plans outside of the US.
Challenges such as these are wonderful opportunities for growth and learning resilience, and I regret to report that I have been slow to pivot as much as I need to to keep the business viable, but am thrilled that support from our loyal following has enabled us to stay in business.
Know your run rate (how much money your company needs in a month to operate), where you can trim, and what expenses are constant and fixed, and be able to project gross revenue.
While we’ve historically done a ton of eat-in business, as well as catering for big parties and weddings, we are currently exploring other options, such as shipping and delivery.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Oh boy. I have always said that there are growth/learning phases and there are stability/equalizing phases, and 2020 has been a big learning phase for me.
From listening to my gut about who to trust (and when to let someone go), to renegotiating contracts and leases, to trying to figure out how to pivot our business model, there have been a lot of lessons this year and I am still trying to navigate through them.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Frankly, I’m mostly trying to figure out what the future looks like, how to best accommodate and innovate during these challenging times, and trying to ensure there IS a future for the bakeshops. On the one hand, I hate to sound so fearful and not radiantly positive about the excitement of entrepreneurial life; but on the other hand, this is the real stuff, the stuff that causes a lot of entrepreneurs to decide the stress and headaches are going to mean the end of business ownership for them. This is the challenge that many small business owners are juggling right now, and I think it’s more authentic to share the hard things too, and not just the perks.
What do I HOPE happens? I hope the pandemic disappears with people healthy and alive and economically stable. I hope consumer spending shifts away from the big-box chains that have cleaned up during this crisis and get redirected to small neighborhood businesses, with room for more mom and pop shops to open up. I hope people feel safe and free-spending and supporting their neighborhood gems, and that this in turn creates richer and more vibrant local communities. I hope food insecurity rates and runaway housing costs are as reduced or diminished as possible. I hope we remember to treat each other with kindness and respect and empathy.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. The book lists out some of the culturally-accepted rules of conduct—and why we should question them to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, and innovate. Plus it’s a really easy read.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
The hallmark of a cutting edge business is if they can pivot when circumstances call for it. I think we’re in the process of figuring out what that looks like, but certainly, I’d be way less stressed if I had already been working on a pivot as the initial stages of the pandemic hit.
Also: Know your run rate (how much money your company needs in a month to operate), where you can trim, and what expenses are constant and fixed, and be able to project gross revenue. I’ve seen perfectly profitable companies fold because they allowed vendor payments to delay for 90 days, and were undercapitalized. I took out a line of credit (that I hope to never need) when our financial position was a whole lot stronger, and it helps to know that the money is available to me if I need a short term fix.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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