It's hard to believe a year has passed since we first opened our doors on Grange Ave in the heart of Wellington West.
Like any business starting up, you just hope that you'll survive. A month, six months, a year, five years! It's hard to know what to expect. When writing our business plan, one of the questions we had most difficulty answering was "Where do you see your business in a year from now? In five years?" Uh, I don't know. Still existing? "What direction do you see your business taking?" It's a challenging question since the growth we experienced in a year is more than we ever could have imagined. The direction we thought we would take three months ago is different from the direction we think we should take today. But what no business plan ever tells you is that that's okay. Being flexible with your expectations is absolutely crucial for survival, because if we were to hold onto the idea of what we thought Strawberry Blonde would be two years ago, we'd be stuck today. As a business owner, you have to roll with the punches, listen, and be open to change.
A year ago we were Claire and Jacqui and one part time employee. Today we are Claire and Jacqui and six employees! Just yesterday Claire and I were making the production list for the next day and we were having a mild panic attack looking at the amount of baking that needed to be accomplished because in our heads sometimes we still think that it's just the two of us that need to bake all those treats. Then we remember the absolutely amazing staff we have and breathe a sigh of relief. Not only are our staff incredibly hard workers, but they're nice people with creative ideas. Strawberry Blonde Bakery wouldn't be what it is today without each of them.
Then there are our husbands and friends and family - all of whom have lent their ear more than once to hear us complain about how stressful it can be running a business and then the next day laughing at us as we are overjoyed by the tremendous sense of accomplishment we feel from running a business. To these people in our lives: We thank you for your constant patience and support.
Our customer base has grown tremendously. We want to thank each and everyone of you for helping spread the word about our bakery. Each compliment, no matter how little it may seem, is incredibly dear to us. Claire and I still take so much pride and joy when someone tells us they love the "feel" of our bakery. Having a cute bakeshop was always as important to us as providing yummy treats. And believe us, transforming that space into something "cute" was not an easy task!
We want to thank each and every one of you (staff, customers, family, and friends) for being patient while we figure out how to run a business, figure out how not to get holes in our bread, and how to make the fritters not gummy. The world of allergen-friendly baking is still very much uncharted territory, but that is also what makes it so exciting! And when we see someone bite into a fritter and say it's the best thing they've eaten in 10 years, we're reminded what Strawberry Blonde is all about: to create a place where the growing number of people with food allergies and "alternative" diets can have a treat and not have to worry about cross-contamination, while also not having to compromise on taste or aesthetics.
So back to that pesky question: Where do you see yourself in a year from now? We have a lot of ideas and hopes and dreams (and only so many hours in a day!) Ultimately the answer is, we don't know, but we're excited to find out.