We are thrilled for Born and Bread Bakehouse acquiring their own space and are so grateful to have been a part of Jenn’s journey in opening her Bakehouse in Lakeland. Over 11,000 pastries were made in our Catapult Commissary Kitchen and we will certainly miss the smell of sweet pastries in the mornings and of course, being the “official taste-testers.”
We sat down with Jenn to get some updates on what’s been happening at the Bakehouse since she’s moved out of our space.
Q+A with Jenn Smurr
Catapult: What was the breaking point in which you realized it was your time to move out of Catapult?
Jenn: I had reached my max capacity. My quantity output was larger than Catapult had space for (which is good thing!). I wasn’t fully operational and needed a space that fit my growing needs.
Catapult: How was the transition from working out of a co-working space to your own space?
Jenn: It was an adjustment, for sure. I love and miss the community I felt while working at Catapult, but nothing quite trumps having the proper equipment and space we needed!
Catapult: What are some wins for your business since you’ve moved into your new space?
Jenn: Our biggest win is the family/customers we’ve found here in Lakeland. They continue to grow, support and believe in us, and as cliche as it sounds, we’d be nothing without them. I’d be silly not to mention the Catapult Launch Micro Grant we were rewarded for $9,000. With those funds we were able to purchase a larger convection oven that has already helped us expand and grow our business.
Catapult: How have you developed that customer family? What are your secrets to customer growth?
Jenn: If we talking about the product, I hold myself to a high standard, which leads to a high quality good. Honestly though, our business runs deeper than a pastry, a loaf of bread or anything that comes out of an oven. It’s about genuine connection. Whether that between myself and a customer or the countless stories I hear about friendships developing while waiting in line for goods. We’ve welcomed babies, mourned loved ones and shared life every week. The world is good and our town is great, we’re just helping show people that.
Catapult: Have you been able to hire any new employees?
Jenn: Yes! Although, we’re almost always looking for another worker to join the team! I currently have 1 full time employee, 3 part time, and 1 apprentice. Apprenticeship is how I learned, so I feel it is important to offer the same.
Catapult: Are you seeing an increase in growth each quarter?
Jenn: Thank goodness, yes! One of my mentors advised that conservative steps were always the best steps to make. I’m grateful for that advice, it saved us from making quick moves that we weren’t ready for. We are ready for more and look forward to 2017!
Catapult: Besides your two-year plan (which is great!), have any of your goals changed from when you first started to now?
Jenn: Yes! That’s a funny story. When I started B&B, my focus was bread baking. That’s what envisioned, that’s what I wanted. During the first bake at Catapult, the bread oven broke, and led me to bake more pastries. I spent weeks in books studying, but I’m a firm believer that sometimes you don’t need a new opportunity, just a mindset change.
Catapult: Which specific aspect of Catapult can you look back on and identify as the most helpful to your business?
Jenn: The Launch program has been wildly helpful. That oven has gotten us through our largest bakes yet. As a beginner at Catapult it was helpful to be surrounded by like minded entrepreneurs. On bad days, someone was there to relate. On good days, people were around to celebrate with you. On days when you needed guidance there was someone had been ‘there’ before. Catapult created a sense of togetherness.
Catapult: What’s one thing you’ve learned that you wish you knew when you first started?
Jenn: If I was to give a beginner entrepreneur any advice, I’d say to have a mentor and ask questions. You’ll need help, don’t be too prideful to ask for it. I have more than one mentor, together they’ve taught me to believe in more and work my ass off.
Catapult: What would you wish next for your business?
Jenn: I would love to open our doors. Saturday is special, I want to make every new step just as special.