Key milestones in the history of Brown Butter Bakery
2006: My first draft of a business plan. Our community is small, and there was a need for a bakery. I started the business four years later.
2010: Started Brown Butter Bakery when my son Gillis was 10 years old. I certified my home kitchen with the State of Oregon Department of Agriculture and started baking. Gillis would work at my stall at the local Scappoose Saturday Farmers market, helping me launch my business. My mother also helped out on the days needed.
2016: Opened a brick-and-mortar business, and hired my sister-in-law for the front of the house. My son is now being trained in all aspects of operations.
Q&A with Brown Butter Bakery, 2019 Excellence in Family Business finalist in the family harmony category.
What was your greatest challenge in building the business to establish a retail shop?
The biggest challenge was finding a place when there was no commercial real estate space available for a full year. I attended Chamber meetings and gave elevator speeches to realtors for a full year. It wasn’t until my insurance agent decided to move out of their building and called to let me know. I drove to the landlord immediately. I wasn’t the only person interested in the building, but I convinced him to rent to me because it had been over 40 years since a bakery had been part of our town.
It’s an older building with high ceilings and big windows. Many customers have stories about the days when the building was a grocery store. They have a personal connection to this brick-and-mortar place.
How has your long-term view of the business benefited the family?
I have always loved having my family work with me at the bakery. It got my elderly mother out of the house and cheered her up; it gave my sister-in-law employment, and it gave my son skills for life. We found out he had Asperger’s, a form of autism, which made him avoid crowds and caused him problems in school. He has learned how to overcome his fear of people and learned great business skills, which he can use in the future. The best times are family dinners, where we all discuss new products, marketing ideas and how we can improve customer service. This has really brought our family together.
What advice do you have about working with family members in a family business?
Don’t be afraid to hire your family! You can rely on them to have your back, and it makes work more fun. I know I am the happiest when I am at work with my family members.
What has been most rewarding to you, as the founder, in launching a business for your family?
After all of these years the most rewarding part is the daily feedback from my customers. Their personal stories of how a cookie helped their family member feel better or that it was the best cheesecake they’ve ever tasted. It’s a very personal connection to each customer.