I Opened My Dream Bakery With Just $500 [Based In Texas]

Amanda Bradford
Founder, Bradford Bakery
$4K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
2
Employees
Bradford Bakery
from Mckinney
started October 2020
$4,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
2
Employees
220
followers
1
followers
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I Opened My Dream Bakery With Just $500 [Based In Texas]

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Amanda Bradford and I own Bradford Bakery. I started in the culinary industry 15 years ago and have done everything from restaurants to the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday cake and celebrity catering events.

We are known for our custom cakes and gluten-free and vegan treats, we also offer cooking and baking classes which sets us apart from your average bakery. To our customers, we are a taste of home. All our pastries are made to order to transport you to that feeling of home.

We are passionate about being part of the community and providing the best products to our customers for their special events. We like to get involved in volunteer projects and giveaways so people can see what our pastries are all about and create that home experience again through community outreach.

Throughout my career, it was really important to me that my food brought comfort and nostalgia to whoever I was feeding. I love what I do because of the reactions people get when they taste something delicious or invoke a memory. It's special to me when I can make someone’s day through food.

Our customers reach out to us because they know they are getting quality products that will meet the needs of their event and their dietary restrictions if they have any! We are a favorite of our local community and love that people are spreading the word about our business to their friends which we are seeing in our growing client list! Even in the past few months we have seen a 550% increase in our SEO on google and filled more orders for the community just by them recommending us and searching us on the web!

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

When I started in the industry 14 years ago, I never imagined that I would pursue a career in it. I quickly realized that baking and pastry was my passion and that I wasn’t too bad at it! I went to culinary school and from the day I stepped foot in the building, I knew this is what I wanted to do.

I went to school and quickly after I started, I met someone at the job I was working at who would come in almost every night with his wife and sit at the bar. The bartender called me over one night and told me to talk to the man as he was a pastry chef. I got his info and asked if I could intern for him, then I started immediately after.

He taught me things before I even learned them in school and gave me a leg up on everyone else. It was very challenging as he was very honest with me and never let me settle for anything less than the best. He would call me out when I did something wrong or when I was working too slow and there were times when I wanted to quit but I am so thankful for the lessons he taught me.

I worked hard and got involved in any project I could to expose myself to

multiple facets of the culinary world and be prepared for anything. I also always knew I wanted to work for myself one day and wanted to be prepared to provide a wide variety of services to my clients.

I came up with the idea for Bradford Bakery after running a few companies back home in California with my friends. I have always been the go-to person for anything pastry and I love making cakes and being a part of people’s special events. My favorite event I have done was the Dalai Llamas 80th birthday cake and I spent over 100 hours with a team of pastry chefs making gum paste flowers and couldn’t have been happier doing so.

Biggest lessons I have learned are, don't underprice your products, don’t get discouraged when it takes a while to see traffic, and keep pushing even on the days it feels like you are going nowhere.

That solidified that I wanted to have my bakery. When my friend told me 2 years ago I should go into business for myself after being the resident cake’s provider at the restaurant I was working at, she helped me build a website and we hit the ground running.

It was scary to leave a full-time job to pursue Bradford Bakery full time but with my background and expertise, I knew I could make it something great. My husband works in marketing and websites so he helped me to start to find my clients. Word of mouth is so important when you are starting a business and that is how we are doing it!

Take us through the process of designing your initial offering.

When I first started I had a lot of ambition though I did not have a lot of know-how. One of my first events I did by myself and was sitting over a cake box at 3 in the morning fixing mistakes that novice pastry chefs make, piping chocolate mousse, and repiping until I got it right.

My tenacity is what gave me the leg up above the rest. I would work countless hours at home after I got off work from my 2 jobs, internship, and school to bake or practice my skills. I read books and watched videos and even practiced with my friends when we would get together. We even challenged each other with mystery baskets and would put together dishes from crazy ingredients we would buy each other just so we could be that much more in tune with our craft.

Luckily throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with really great chefs that have taught me a lot. At a few places I have worked at we had creative freedom to rest recipes so when I started my company, I had a good base of products I wanted to start with.

Being that I am from California, I had to learn the Texas clientele and what they were looking for and adjusted our menu to reflect the demand. We also had to learn about product pricing here as it is different depending on where you are. I did lots of research to make sure we were fair but competitive. We had a lot of learning along the way because new business owners tend to underprice themselves. We didn't have a lot of money to put into marketing starting so we were very strategic with the dollars that we raised and spent to get the word out. Being a chef in the industry for 15 years, with the product, I had the know-how and access to be able to get it cheaper than retail which helped keep our food cost down.

We made sure to research what permits and set up everything we needed through legal zoom and made sure to talk to their consultants to get everything right. We had challenges to figure out where to start and getting a hold of the right people but in the end, when everything was set up, we had a supportive community to help us get going. But we quickly learned people will pay to support your small business and to have something made to order with love and care.

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Describe the process of launching the business.

When we launched, we did a pop-up shop, made some of our signature products, and held appointments where people could come and taste our products being mindful of the current climate with the pandemic. We didn’t have a large marketing budget so we researched free methods, utilized Facebook ads and boosting posts, and went door to door with flyers. It took a few months but we saw the demand grow from there.

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I had a friend and my husband build me a website and luckily they both work in marketing so they're able to teach me about SEO, hashtag utilization on social and visibility above other companies. I asked people I had made orders to write me reviews and post them online so I had a rapport built up for people to see.

Getting your name in front of people is the most effective strategy I have found, especially when your marketing budget is small when you are starting.

I financed the business with the money I was making from teaching and doing extra orders while I worked as a full-time chef. Since everything we do is made to order, we keep our overhead low and utilize our friends to help us with things we can’t do and cook for them as payment.

Biggest lessons I have learned are, don't underprice your products, don’t get discouraged when it takes a while to see traffic, and keep pushing even on the days it feels like you are going nowhere.

i-opened-my-dream-bakery-with-just-500-based-in-texas

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We have found getting involved in the community here in Mckinney has helped us to grow our reach. I joined a few Facebook groups with people with similar interests as well as small businesses groups to utilize free advertising. People are supportive of small businesses so it was a matter of finding where the locals are involved to get in touch with them and develop trust, which is why the Facebook groups are a great place to start

We have also found that word of mouth and talking to the local community have worked best for us. Our customers are very community focused so they like to see the involvement of businesses when they are choosing where to go. We utilize social media, advertising on Facebook and Instagram as they are the platforms most of our clientele is utilizing and we see the most traffic, selling at farmers' markets, and reaching out to local groups to spread the word about our business. We also created a local coupon for neighbors that gives them 10 percent off their orders for life and we utilize Groupon to give people discounts and expand our reach.

We want to be a part of people’s special occasions as well as fulfill their cravings. Our customers like that we can customize their orders to their event specifically and that we are with them every step of the way. We have a more personal touch than most places because we are small and care about our clients.

I make sure to post during hours where people are scrolling social media, involving videos and interactive content, and linking our shopping to our accounts so people always have quick access to our products and we can capture them before they can see something else.

I have set up affiliate links for products we use when we have classes to diversify income and I also research local venues and community groups that I can bring samples to. Utilizing sites like amazon where I buy products already and they have an affiliate program has helped in that way. I look for local places that people usually go to in the area for weddings and such and reach out to the event coordinators to get our foot in the door. Getting your name in front of people is the most effective strategy I have found, especially when your marketing budget is small when you are starting.

We make sure to keep up with our site analytics and track our ads to see what is working and what isn't. When we talk to people or post anywhere we keep a spreadsheet so we can follow up or expand upon what we have done. There is a lot of free advice on the web that will guide you in where to advertise in your area for lower costs.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are growing! We see an uptick in our class schedule and referrals for custom items. We keep track of our costs, make sure that we cost out recipes, and keep them on file and up to date with prices so we can adequately charge. We make everything to order so our overhead is low. We do most of our sales online and through the locals that find us on google and recommendations.

We plan to expand to brick and mortar once our business demands it but for now, the online schedule is working for us. I am constantly researching recipes and products to keep our customers interested and keep us ahead of the crowd.

Don't Expect Results Overnight. It's not uncommon for people to start working on their business, feel like they're not getting anywhere, and then quit. You have to remember that being consistent, even a few hours every day, will get you far even if you don't feel like it will.

Long term goal for our business is for our family to be able to run it and then as soon as we are able, step back and let someone run it while we supervise. Short term, our goal is to expand beyond the local market and maybe include shipping to other states.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I wish I would have started our business a little sooner so we would have more of a footprint but it is never too late to start! I made sure to follow people that had a similar model to see what they were doing and get ideas from them.

I learned that growth is slower but old-school methods do help. Getting out there and talking to people will get them interested in your business. Research is really important to start because there is so much free, underutilized information on the internet. People have a misconception they can't start because they don't have money but you can work with what you have even if it isn’t a lot but be prepared to spend some money upfront. Ads do cost money but the prelude of you gotta spend money to make money applies. The ads are helpful in the online space to again get your name in front of people. It will pay off in the end!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Social media is one of my favorite tools to use. It is free for the most part and everyone uses it. I like to use Instagram as our main source because you can link shopping and use videos and pictures to attract customers. I also get involved in groups on Facebook with people that have common interests to build trust with clients before I go in for a sale. When they have a relationship with you, when your product applies to them, then they’re more apt to pick you to do business with.

I also like to google what is free to advertise near me, this is a great list I found.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

The startup market is highly competitive. From idea conception to the time you get started, a lot of things in the market will have changed. To keep up and be successful, you must be comfortable making a pivot.

Staying involved with the community and researching what people are looking for in the current climate helps keep you up to date. Always look on social media in the local area to see what the demand is. I try to stay involved in groups on social media as it tells me a lot about what people are looking for as well.

Collect the feedback from your customers and incorporate the changes that the market is wanting. Constant innovation is the key but you don't need to reinvent the wheel. If something is working, don't change it but you can try new things in addition.

Oftentimes I have found that people are looking for that personal touch they get from a small business. They like the extra mile and the fact that a small business can hone in on what they are looking for. I have also found that they love the fact that small businesses can get it right because they are in touch with their customers.

Don't Expect Results Overnight. It's not uncommon for people to start working on their business, feel like they're not getting anywhere, and then quit. You have to remember that being consistent, even a few hours every day, will get you far even if you don't feel like it will. The most successful people are not created overnight and normally involve the hard effort of many people (asking for help) and long nights. Determination truly is important.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Amanda Bradford, Founder of Bradford Bakery
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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