What is the name of your shop and how did you come up with the name?
The name of my shop is Brown Bag Bakery. I've had it in my head for about 8 years now. I had always planned on opening a bakery and I love the brown paper kraft bags. I envisioned packing my customers orders in simple, organic feeling, modern looking brown bags.
What can you tell us about your product line?
So far I'm carrying bagels and a host of other baked goods. I haven't taken pictures of them all yet so the different flavors are listed on each of the listings I currently have active. I also just listed my chewy caramel recipe that was 6 months in the making. It's finally perfect! Hopefully in the next few weeks I can start listing the other baked goods I'm proud of!
How did you decide what items to put in your shop?
Well, I love to bake and bagels well ....
What challenges did you encounter when you opened your shop and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is having 4 children, ages 7 and under. They are obviously going to be my first priority. I have to schedule my prepping and baking around them. I've just learned how to work around it. I bake before they wake up the next morning.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get started?
Well, I'm an impatient person. I would say:
1. Be patient. I've learned that it won't blow up overnight. Slow and steady wins the race right?
2. Love what you do and it'll show. People will respond when they feel your personality in your products and descriptions. Be yourself.
3. Communicate like crazy with your customers.
4. Most importantly, learn how to take professional quality pictures using lighting and styling and editing (Windows Live Gallery or Picnik).
Do you feel the social networking is helpful in making your business a success?
I'm on Facebook often so I started a fan page for my Etsy shops. I wouldn't say it has contributed to a lot of success, but it's certainly not a failure. Whatever gets your name out there is not a failure!
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from absolutely anything. It is so random. The strangest things like a bicycle wheel or a paint color can inspire me. Then there are the moods I get in where all I want to do is surround myself with my mountain of cookbooks and look at all the pictures. Then some ideas wake me up at night! Right now I've got 21 notebooks and 4 pens on my bedside table just in case.
How long have you been baking, who taught you and what was the first thing you baked?
The first thing I baked was a pound cake when I was 12. My dad taught me and he taught me the way his mother taught him. My mom was also very creative. She would sit me on the counter and I would watch her. Come to find out, she really sat me up there just so she could get me out from under her feet (ha ha), which I completely understand now!
If you had to pick a favorite from your shop, what would it be and why?
Right now my favorite thing is the blackberry crème caramels. They are so sweet, fruity, salty, and chewy; they are a pretty plumy color! But most of all they are addicting! There are so many things that I love, it's really hard to stay on one as a favorite! I'm working on a new one. Peanut Butter and Jelly - I think THAT one will be a longstanding favorite!
Do you have special names for your edibles and how did you come up with them?
As I said I'm random so I literally will write down the first 5 or so words that come to mind. As long as it relates to the item, I'll try to smush them all together or the words themselves will give me another idea. For instance, the title for my cinnamon roll bagel is holy cinnamon roll bagels batman!
Do you sell any unique items?
Yes, I do. The fondant rollups are unique. I wish I had a picture! It's a thin layer of sheet cake with a layer of fondant on top, and then rolled like a roulade - with the fondant on the outside - around a stick. The other items are crazy flavored bagels. I do artisan breads, candies, crazy pound cakes, and of course more craziness in the caramel flavors. (coffee, blackberry, pina colada, beer and more)
What local venues you have had success with your edibles?
I actually haven't tried any! My business grew by word of mouth. There is a Southern Fried Food festival coming up that's in September and I was thinking about trying that out!
What does it take to get your edibles delivered freshly?
I use priority mail and I never ship on Fridays because 2 day priority doesn't mean anything when the second day is a Sunday. This is how I see it: mailed Friday, en route Saturday, nowhere on Sunday. Honestly, I don't ship on Thursdays either just to be safe. I just want my customers' product to be fresh and them to be happy.
What has been the overall reception of your shop?
I've had just 5 sales but they have left wonderful feedback for me! My best customer/buyer is now my friend! I've gotten a lot of really nice messages and 32 hearts on Etsy. Yay! My shop has only been open for about 2 weeks now.
What do you have special for the holidays?
I think the caramels will do great around the holidays, especially the orange ginger flavor.
What would you say makes you passionate about what you do?
I live to create and the passion comes out when I bake.
What would you like our readers, potential customers, to know about you and your store?
When you come to my store, I'm told that you'll see my personality through my items and descriptions. I try to be fun.
Is there anything I haven't covered in this interview that you would like to add?
I'm working on getting a cookbook published! I've created 646 recipes over the past 6 years! I'll be listing it in my bakery shop when it's done! How cool is that!
Where can the readers find you?
I'm on facebook! Look up Chantelle Harris-Rock, or brownbagbakery! I'm on twitter too, but I just can't get into it so I haven't used it at all lately. I do have a blog under chrstudio, but I don't have time yet to keep up with it. My Etsy stores are: