This is a story about how HappyJack Bakery came to be.
Ever since my husband and I have been together, I've been baking him desserts on a fairly regular basis. He has been a tremendous inspiration to me, as he continuously tells me how delicious my treats are. But, of course, I assumed he was biased. They were certainly edible and good, but were they as fabulous as he claimed? Then I started sharing my goodies with our friends at Christmas—every year (and I still do this), I would buy them a holiday-themed plate, and decorate it with a variety of my favorite cookies. This would result in many rave reviews. Every spring and fall, we would gather with these same friends for a semi-annual picnic at which I would always bring my chocolate chip cookies. Again, to me they were nothing special, but to everyone else, they were the best cookies ever. Then came the sharing of my treats with my friends at work. It started one day when I took an apple pie into the office. I was shocked at how much everyone seemed to love the pie. Then, over the years, I started bringing in cookies, muffins, cheesecakes, and other desserts, all of which were gobbled up quickly every time.
But I still always wondered what was so special about my baking. I guess when you love to do something as much as I love to bake, that love shines through in your product. I love the feeling I get when I'm baking, knowing how my treats are going to make my friends and neighbors happy. I love to surprise someone with a home baked treat, for no particular reason.
A few months ago, I started thinking about turning my love of baking into a real business. It was kind of an epiphany, and I realized the only thing stopping me was me. If everyone likes my treats so much, why not try to sell them to the rest of the world? So I ordered some books, did some research, made a ton of phone calls, and found out that in Allegheny County where I live, I can run a business from my home making food that doesn't contain dairy or need to be refrigerated, and sell those things at farmer's markets or flea markets. So I took the steps necessary to acquire a business license, a health permit, and insurance, so that I could start this business. Then I discovered that my local farmer's market was moving to a new location just two blocks from my house! It was fate, I swear. I was meant to do this.
So here I am, baking from my kitchen, selling my goodies at the Whitehall Farmer's Market for the summer of 2010. With any luck, my business will take off, and I can take the next step to expansion—that would mean using a commercial kitchen and be permitted to fulfill orders year-round; not be limited to selling at the farmer's market; and not be limited to making non-dairy treats. Of course, the next step after that would be to open a store front bakery, and to me, there would be no better location for this than Caste Village Shopping Center.
Update, January, 2013
I've decided to take a break for a while. I had three fabulous years at the farmer's market, and selling wholesale to The Dancing Bean coffee shop in Caste Village, and filling all of your off-season orders. But after some long, hard, and thoughtful consideration with my husband (HappyJack), we decided that I should take a break in order to enjoy more time with our daughter, doing the things we love to do, without the added stress and pressure of having to bake and fill orders every week. So for now, we think we're putting this thing on hold for a good while until our daughter doesn't want to hang out with us anymore. She's 8 years old now, so when will that be? In 8 years? 10 years? Only time will tell. But I hope that someday down the road, you'll find me serving customers in my own bake shop positioned nicely at Caste Village. It's fun to dream, isn't it?