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The Sweet Life Bakery


ohmyganache
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Hello again,

We're getting ready for another event this weekend, although much smaller... perhaps very small if the weather predictions are right. As you might have heard, there is supposed to be rain on Saturday when we will be at the Newfield Fall Festival. Newfield is the actual town where Jill grew up, and it's just north of Vineland. We don't expect it to be a huge event, but it's local, so any contact we make there will be great.

Last night, we went to a free seminar offered by the Small Business Development Center. There were maybe 40 people there, all interested in opening some sort of small business. It was put on by Joe, the same gentleman that we visited last month in AC. The information offered was good, but was basically the same stuff we went over at our meeting. It's always great it hear it again though... And we met some fellow small business owners. One guy, Dago, is a CIA grad who owns a BBQ joint (not a restaurant he said, a joint) in Mays Landing. He was super cool, big guy, tatoos, the sort of man you expect to see running a BBQ place. He told us to come by anytime to pay him a visit... he offered his help with contacts, perveyors, etc... His son does restaurant liquidation, so he can help us get cheap kitchen goodies through him. He also expressed interest in us doing some desserts for his joint... so that was cool.

I looked at a spot today on Landis Ave in Vineland. Called the owner, he was closeby so I went downtown to meet him. The spot was nice... good location, good size, nice rent, but not set up for a bakery. I'd have to run a gas line in, update electric, put ventalation in... The building itself needs a little work as well. Thing is, he won't pay for any of it, which seems a little odd to me. I'm certainly not going to pay for renovation/restoration on the physical building if I'm only renting. Am I wrong here? He won't even share the costs...

The other day, we went to a meeting of BNI. Has anybody heard of it? It's a networking group... costs money to join, so we were VERY sceptical, but it seems legit. I've asked a few people, and no one has anything bad to say about it. We're thinking of joining, because it seems like a good way to meet local business people (since I'm not from around here, I don't know too many people in the area). We also have the kind of business that word-of-mouth in a situation like this works really well. Everyone wants cakes, cookies, etc...

What else... We're getting ready for next weekend. There is an Italian Festival at Belleview Winery, which I expect to be pretty big. It's at a winery, which we learned last week, is a good thing. It's Italian themed, which seems to be huge down these parts... everyone seems to be quite proud of thier Italian heritage. We've been asked to do the tiramisu for the festival. Someone is doing biscotti and Italian cookies, but we've cornered the Tiramisu market. We're planning on doing 800 for the weekend. We got little aluminum cups with lids last week, we ordered biodegradable 'plastic' spoons today (I'm pretty excited about these things... we saw them first in SF, and they're made of molded potato starch, so they totally break down in your compost bin!). We started baking the sponge for it today, and will be ordering the Mascarpone tomorrow. We tried making our own mascarpone last week, and were really happy with the results, but it would be a little much for us at this point.

I got a tent for the booth at Target yesterday, and I gotta say... I'm a little annoyed about it. It's kinda junky. The tarp doesn't fit right, the poles had some serious issues in the production process, because they don't really fit together well. The handy tote bag it all fits into has ripped in several places... I am usually really happy with Target... If I wanted crap, I'd go to Wal-Mart, because it's cheaper, you know? I think I'm going to use it this weekend, and return it on Monday. Anybody have a suggestion on a good tent to use???

Alright, I'm tired and am going to bed. Goodnight...

Oh, and Katie... thanks for the suggestions on places to have a booth. Bridal shows had totally slipped my mind, and they'd be perfect...

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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Hey Stephen,

I can comment on two things:

1. I just spent 10 months looking for a place to open my commercial kitchen. It is almost unheard of for a landlord to pay for build-out of your bakery. Sometimes you can negotiate a couple of months free rent while you build or if it is a brand new space you may get a few thousand dollars but seriously, you either find a place that has everything in it or you pony up the bucks to build it yourself. This is where the old location, location, location aspect comes in. If you need a great location you will have to pay for it. I worked with a commercial realtor to finally find my space and thank goodness I did because we were able to negotiate quite a lot that I wasn't even aware of on my own. Bottom line: you will more than likely have to pay any construction costs.

2. BNI. I'm in my second year with my chapter. It is a commitment of time and money but it has paid itself back in spades. I made my yearly fee back with one job and I continue to be rewarded with my commitment to the "BNI way". You need to find a well organized group that you click with but once you do I can attest that networking really works.

Landis Avenue! I remember it so well. :) Can't wait to read what you write next!

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I got a tent for the booth at Target yesterday, and I gotta say... I'm a little annoyed about it.  It's kinda junky.  The tarp doesn't fit right, the poles had some serious issues in the production process, because they don't really fit together well.  The handy tote bag it all fits into has ripped in several places... I am usually really happy with Target... If I wanted crap, I'd go to Wal-Mart, because it's cheaper, you know?  I think I'm going to use it this weekend, and return it on Monday.  Anybody have a suggestion on a good tent to use???

I know nothing about these, but a quick Google search brought up this site as well as this one. I will say that when I'm at an outdoor craft show or other festival, a crappy tent can scream crappy merchandise at a glance. That's a generalization, but having been to plenty of outdoor festivals, it's just nice to see a tent that looks as professional as the goods under it--know what I mean? I've also seen too many vendors scrambling to cover their stuff if the weather takes a turn for the worse, while others sit tight with few worries. And fwiw, this might be a decent time of year to buy one...one of those sites had end-of-summer sales, including one model with screened sides, which might be good to keep bugs/bees out.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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First, I'm sad that Vineland is too far from me, because your stuff looks & sounds great. :smile:

Two things that I thought of while reading the thread, though.

For the iced coffee: Please note someplace that you're using honey in it, as it's an allergen but not one usually encountered in coffee (chai, I'd expect it, not so much in coffee). I'm not allergic, but I think honey can be one of the bad allergies.

For the tent: If you're going to be doing a lot of events, I'd recommend an EZ-Up tent. I've done events in a completely different market, and they're great. They have sidewalls that you can add/remove as needed as well (I think they're an option). Sometimes you can get a good price for one on ebay.

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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I got a tent for the booth at Target yesterday, and I gotta say... I'm a little annoyed about it.  It's kinda junky.  The tarp doesn't fit right, the poles had some serious issues in the production process, because they don't really fit together well.  The handy tote bag it all fits into has ripped in several places... I am usually really happy with Target... If I wanted crap, I'd go to Wal-Mart, because it's cheaper, you know?  I think I'm going to use it this weekend, and return it on Monday.  Anybody have a suggestion on a good tent to use???

I don't know how much you're willing to spend, but these tents from Costco are decent. I'm not sure if they carry these particular tents in their stores, but if you drop by your nearest Costco, you can take a look at their stock. (They may not have a lot, because the tents are usually summer items.)

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Oh, and Katie... thanks for the suggestions on places to have a booth. Bridal shows had totally slipped my mind, and they'd be perfect...

My pleasure and I think you ought to be all over that. A captive audience of brides-to-be who are looking to book as many vendors as they can in one afternoon. It's like shooting fish in a barrel... :smile:

Check out Philadelphia Weddings and Jersey Weddings magazines. Any larger bookstore should have them. They would likely include the bridal fairs that are in your geographic market. I'm sure the contact information is somewhere in the ads so you can book a table and present your lovely wares. You probably wouldn't even need the crappy tent, since most of these take place in hotels, catering halls and other indoor venues.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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We have the same white tent as the Costco one only we bought it at Sam's Club. It is very nice, and it a packs into a bag. If you are going to continue with shows, go with a white one, because the nicer shows require everyone to have the same white tent.

You may want to spray the top of the tent with a waterproofing spary, we noticed a few small leaks in ours the other day, only around the seams, and need to do that before we use it again. I can say we've never used it in a heavy downpour-yet!

We have buckets filled with cement tied to the tent legs for places that may be on blacktop and you don't want your tent to blow away, but the other day we saw tent legs tied to PVC pipe about 2 feet long filled with cement and capped off. It was a much neater look, and took up less space.

Enjoying this thread, good luck!

Jennifer

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Hello again,

So we got back from the Newfield Fall Festival a little while ago. It ended up being a very successful day! And I have to say, I'm a little surprised. First of all, the weather today is just awful. When we got up early this morning to bake the scones, it wasn't too bad out... but as we began to load the mini-van, the rain started. And the wind...

So we set up the crap tent from Target, which I gotta say, was nice to have today. It might not be the best, but it kept us dry. It didn't keep us warm though, because it was quite chilly out and the wind was wicked. All in all, not a good day to have a town festival.

Also, Newfield is a pretty small town (it's just north of Vineland, and is the actual town where Jill grew up and her mother still lives). We weren't expecting a huge turnout anyway, because of the small-ness like I mentioned, but there is a larger festival going on today somewhere in the local area (Deerfield, I don't know exactly where that's at).

All that said, we sold out of almost everything, save a few brandy balls and a few jars of apple butter (a new addition). The apple butter sold very well... we picked the apples this week from a local farm ($4.00 a basket for apples off the ground... almost a steal), and jarred it up. We pushed the fact that is was from a local farm, and people really dug it I think. The oatmeal cookies and scones sold out quite fast (I smell signature items...). We raised the prices on the brandy balls to $.75 each or $2.00 for 4. People still ate them up. Actually, as we were packing up the van, a woman came running (literally) up to us and asked if we had more brandy balls. She said that she got 4, drove off, ate one, did a U-turn, and wanted two dozen more!!! Yes! That made us smile...

But importantly, everyone loved our stuff and our story. The local townspeople practically begged us to open our shop in Newfield and even pointed out several properties that we should look into. There is an old tavern that is closed now right off the mail street that runs through town... great location, and it's even got a kitchen. Two problems though, first it looks seriously run down. Secondly, it's for sale only, and will be auctioned off soon. It comes with a HUGE house behind the bar, which is trashed but pretty cool. The bar is also bigger than we want, but... that's not really such a bad thing.

The Newfield Business Alliance said that we would be more than welcome to join them, we met the incumbant mayor (who dug the chocolate chip cookies), and the organizer of the event today said we were the buzz of the town. He owns a community space right on the main corner, and suggested we do cooking classes or something there... and said he would charge us next to nothing to use it. He just wants to create a community there in Newfield and wants to bring people downtown to give them something to do. It was pretty awesome...

On a similar note... two people were shot dead in Vineland, on Landis Ave, last night. We're thinking that Vineland is not the town for us... We gave it a chance, but what happened last night was one block from where we looked at that spot the other day. I'm sorry, but there's only so much we're willing to sacrifice for the town... my life, nor the lives of our customers, is not one of them...

Jill just finished a soccer themed cake for delievery, sp we have to go drop it off. We're taking the rest of the day off, and will start assembling Tiramisu tomorrow!

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The booth at Newfield...

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The soccer cake! The soccer ball is 3-D...

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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I've been lurking on this thread for a while and I'm glad you have got some momentum. Your products look great and it sounds like your pricing is getting closer.

I opened my high(er) end speciatly food store in the middle of nowhere 3 years ago, and we've learned quite a bit. Here a few tidbits for the cause...

We got out cards (business and postcards) printed at vistaprint.com with their never-ending specials. I think we paid for just shipping on 250 cars which lasted a while. I haven't beaten their prices yet.

We also bought a Samsung CLP510 color laser printer for $150 (plus toner) and do almost all our in-store signage, fliers, and newsletters on that for pennies and at our convenience. Hint - get the high density toner cartridges (5K copies per v. 2K).

A good friend told us before we opened that there are three main components to small business - price, quality, service...pick two NOT three. We went for quality and service and charge prices that we need to for the other two. Our town has not disappointed.

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I've been lurking on this thread for a while and I'm glad you have got some momentum.  Your products look great and it sounds like your pricing is getting closer. 

I opened my high(er) end speciatly food store in the middle of nowhere 3 years ago, and we've learned quite a bit.  Here a few tidbits for the cause...

We got out cards (business and postcards) printed at vistaprint.com with their never-ending specials.  I think we paid for just shipping on 250 cars which lasted a while.  I haven't beaten their prices yet.

We also bought a Samsung CLP510 color laser printer for $150 (plus toner) and do almost all our in-store signage, fliers, and newsletters on that for pennies and at our convenience.  Hint - get the high density toner cartridges (5K copies per v. 2K).

A good friend told us before we opened that there are three main components to small business - price, quality, service...pick two NOT three.  We went for quality and service and charge prices that we need to for the other two.  Our town has not disappointed.

Hello! Thanks for the good tips... as well as the good words. We appreciate it!

Someone else told us about Vistaprints, and I checked it out a few days ago. We've actually gone through 250 cards in about two weeks, and I only have a few left! I've gone through overnightprints.com, and have been pretty happy with them. Good quality, nice looking cards.

We looked at printers the other day, but decided on saving our money for a nicer quality one. I'm glad that we did after reading your positing!!! Where did you buy your printer? Anyone have any suggestions on a good printer? (Besides the Samsung... just so we can comparison shop a bit).

And I like the advice that your friend gave you... we're definitly focusing on quality and service. We sold the soccer cake (1/2 sheet) for $50, and it's worth it!

Jill says dinner is ready, gotta run!

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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Definitely do your homework on the printer...we do enought that it is worth it but not too much that it doesn't...if that makes sense.

Here's the best price I found today for the printer. I bought mine with a rebate which I've seen many times over the past 2 years.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello again...

And for this weeks update! We just got back a little while ago from the Bellview Winery Italian Festival. We had a good weekend in terms of money made, but... we made way too much tiramisu. Bummer! We simply thought we'd sell more. The past month, we've seen tons of roadside signs advertising the festival. There was a huge article about it in the local newspaper on Thursday. The winery is a favorite in the area. And there is a lot of Italian pride in these parts!

There were several problems. Firstly, we did not give out samples most of the first day. We usually do, and they're a big hit. But we didn't because we didn't have tasting spoons (couldn't find any locally and thought about it too late to order online). We also didn't want to give out samples using our serving spoons because they were too big, and we didn't have too many extra.

Well, everyone that tried them said they were amazing. And not to toot our own horn or anything, but they were pretty damn good. But since the only people that tried them ordered a whole one...

Secondly, I don't think people were digging dessert too much. The gelato place two booths away didn't do that well either. Nor did the cookie lady. It seemed to me that most everyone was drinking wine and eating food. You can't really drink wine and eat desserts. They just don't go that well together.

Thirdly, we had two popular food booths on either side of us that had enormous lines. And while that potentially exposed us to a lot of people, it basically blocked our booth from any sort of visibility. People were thinking about what to order while they were waiting in line, not 'I should check out that Tiramisu booth when I'm done with my food.'

So, we walked around the tables selling the tiramisu. We sold quite a few this way. It was good. One of the other vendors told me that he kept checking out our booth and couldn't impagine why there wasn't a line there... and then he ordered six to take home. We got some really nice compliments... but at the end of the day, we had about 150 left over. That sucked.

Today...

We bought a few handfulls of tasting spoons from the gelato people. They had some problems with thier freezer getting stuck in the dirt when setting up the first day. We helped them out them, so they were happy to pay us back by exchanging several hundred tasting spoons for a tiramisu.

And although there were less people today, we sold significantly more tiramisu. We gave out samples, the lines weren't as bad around the table, and we made a decent amount of money.

But we still didn't sell as many as we planned... so I think in addition to all the other problems, we just plain old estimates too high. That's how you learn!!!

So we have a charity event this coming Saturday that we're going to (hopefully) use up a lot of the tiramisu. I say hopefully because we slapped them in the freezer, and hopefully they'll be fine. I think they will. I've frozen tiramisu plenty of times without ill effect, but never this particular one which Jill and I perfected this week.

In other news... I found the printer that was mentioned last week, at BJ's, with a $70.00 rebate (or some similar number). I think we're going to pick it up tomorrow. We're also going into Philly to look at some used restaurant equipment. Two places that sound like they have some promising leads...

What else...

We sent out our first e-mail to our mailing list. It basically said thank you for your interest, we're going to be at bellview this weekend, and here's the final copy of the first menu. Well we got a hit! A woman we had met at Woodstown ordered a dozen cookies and two dozen brandy balls. She picked them up today at the festival. (Also from the woodstown festival, a woman e-mailed asking about cakes. Her mother-in-law suggested us to her. Thank you mystery mother-in-law!).

We also did a pirate themed childrens cake. We seem to be doing a good majority of childrens cakes, and it's worked out quite well when they give us an idea, and we do a fun design on the theme (instead of exact reproductions of something...) So Jill went to the library and checked out a few childrens books for inspiration. You know, books high on visuals and low on elaboration. She decided on a treasure map. It was nice, and our customer loved it... even gave us an extra five dollars. It turned out that they gave little treasure maps to the kids for a scavenger hunt!

Okay, I think that's it for now! Thanks...

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The tiramisu in individual cups with the potato starch spoons. Which, by the way, were a big big hit. When someone bought a tiramisu, as we gave it to them along with a napkin and spoon, we asked them to return the aluminum cup to us for recycling (we had a little recycling can on the table, and everyone who brought them back said how great they were. That was usually in the presence of someone we were talking to, which was great!). And most everyone commented on how neat the biodegradable spoons were.

So I thought about how cool that is, from a marketing standpoint. The people that cared returned the cups and ate from the spoons feeling good about doing something (no matter how small and seemingly insignificant) and that made them feel good. And I'm happy anytime someone else has a 'happy moment' that is associated with our bakery. And call me wierd, but I could genuinely tell that those people who did return their cups really cared.

And it's funny, because I read something interesting last night (after thinking about this) in Marion Nestle's new book 'What to Eat.' She quotes a marketing firm for Starbucks as saying, "More and more marketers are looking for ways to appeal to customers on an emotional level by indicating that they support the sorts of causes that consumers support." Ha starbucks.. who needs you and your fancy marketing firms! We were marketing and we didn't even know it.

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The booth with the vineyard in the distance... it was quite pretty. Oh but, it was windy!!! I'm so glad we returned our booth and risked the weather. The tent to the right of us went airborne, flipped over their smoker, dragged someone with it, also grabbed a folding chair and threw it up and into between two parked cars. The tent to the left of us almost lost thier tent (which was way big) on Saturday, and totally lost it today. It flipped up, knocked a table over, flew into the owner of the business (Jills' cousin) who had jumped between her and her children. We ran over, pulled it off her, the kids were crying... it was seriously nuts. Our Target crap tent would have been toast. And the amazing this was, our little puny sign didn't even get blown over once...

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Edited by ohmyganache (log)

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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I am not a baker, but I grew up in the hotel and restaurant business. My experience has always been that the only successful bakeries were those that had restaurants and hotels as a large part of their business. Whether for rolls or deserts, the regular business of hotels and restaurants are what allows you to survive financially. Depending upon retail business alone is very tough.

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I've seen independent bakeries do just fine by themselves, but in a smaller community diversifying the products is important. In our town, the bakeries that have done best are the ones that established wholesale accounts with local restaurants and hotels...because none of our restaurants have the time or staff to do that work themselves.

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We've been to Philly a few times in the last couple of days. We went on Monday to look at equipment, both large and small. We went to see prices, meet people, and grab a few small things. The first guy we met was a property manager for this huge company. They get all sorts of random equipment when they aquire or close a property. So he has a few low-boys, some ovens, a three-compartment sink, and walk in freezer. It's all pretty beat up, which makes me a little suspicious with the refrigeration... But he comes across all different stuff, so we're going to stay in touch with him.

The second guy we go to see, has some random equipment. A nice little four foot pastry display case in particular, but we picked up a small stainless table, a speed rack, and a storage rack. By the way, we found this stuff on craiglist...

We went back to Philly today to see some friends. We went to RTM, of course, and stopped by Flying Monkey Patisserie. Very cute, nice set up, tasty cupcakes and cookies. We introduced ourselves to the owner/pastry chef, Rebecca. She was very nice, but kinda freaked us out when she said she thinks she'd heard of us... a couple moving from San Francisco to open a bakery! Weird. She told us to e-mail her, so I'm sure we're going to keep in touch...

We also drove through Northern Liberties, and walked around for a bit. We spoke with a young woman from The Food Trust at a little farmers market they had there. The organization sounded great, and they're looking for bakeries for thier farmers markets, so we're going to look into that a little more.

We've gotten some more cake orders, and the calls are starting to trickle in. The website is still not up, so I nicely asked Jill's brother to give me the relevant info so I could do it myself. So hopefully, we'll be up in a few days. A few people have mentioned that the website is not up.

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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Hello again. Things are moving along alright here. We spoke with a guy last week about renting his kitchen out. It's kind of in a funny location... it's in a convienience store/gas station that used to be an Italian restaurant. So basically it's got a decently sized kitchen, prep area, dishwashing area, and dry storage area that is not being used to it's full potential. They make subs about of it now, and are trying to expand into catering. He seemed quite interested when we spoke, but he hasn't called back so we're going to stop by tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

We got a good lead on an ex-bakery in Millville. It's got a pretty hot location, has been empty for a few months, full of equipment. I e-mailed the director of the development center in Milleville, and she gave me all the info I wanted... back-story, as well as a name and number. I spoke with the guys assistant this afternoon, she took my number.

I met a woman who owns a candle shop in Millville, and also sells locally made food products. She's willing to sell some of our stuff. Apple butter, for the moment... but we're going to start doing some canned and bagged items to wholesale out. Peanut brittle, hot fudge sauce, brandy balls, etc... And actually, her best friend is opening a sweet shop next door, and will be selling retro candies, and other sweets. We got her number as well.

It also looks like we're going to be teaching cooking classes as well. When we had the booth in Newfield, the owner of the Newfield Borough building offered to host the cooking classes (I think I mentioned this already). Well we did a business plan for it, and we're meeting Frank Monday morning to hammer out the final details. Hopefully, we'll have our first class on the 10th of November... the theme? Apples of course.

We went to a farm today that has tons of fruit in season throughout the year. Berries, stone fruits, grapes, pumpkins, apples, etc... Very cool. Pick your own or wholesale, they also have a little stand that they sell retail. They also have cider (it's pretty good, but a little sweet) and apple cider doughnuts. Quite tasty... We'll be visiting them again when they open up next summer.

The orders are trickling in still. An assorted pastry order tomorrow, chocolate cake on Saturday, a few dozen cupcakes on Sunday. It's moving... we just need to find a spot where people can come in and visit us!

We also filled out an application for the Food Networks 'Next Food Network Star' thingy... We made a video, filled out the ap, and crossed our fingers. I taped, and Jill talked about herself and local apples, while she made an apple pie. It was cool. We'll see what happens...

Jill's testing some gingersnap cookies now, so I'm going to run... she wants to type her notes up. Bye!

Edited by ohmyganache (log)

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay okay, I’m sorry I haven’t written in a little while. My mother kind of got on me about it, so here I am again!

This last weekend was busy, with three days of craft fairs. We didn’t do so badly the first two days, although Sunday wasn’t the best. We had a lot of stuff left over, but got our name out there a little more, we got two cake orders, and we got some more names on the mailing list.

The gingersnap cookie sandwiches were a huge success. We filled them with vanilla buttercream and rolled the edges in raw sugar, and people were really digging them. The pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing were a smash as well. The brown butter was key… it tasted so good! The carrot cupcakes didn’t sell as well as I expected, but the people who ate them were totally into them.

The thanksgiving orders are coming in now. We’ve got quite a few pies, cupcake, and gingersnap cookie sandwich orders. This should be fun… haha.

Some really good news though… we talked with a very nice Italian family on Monday about renting the kitchen in their restaurant. We were introduced through a woman at the networking organization we’ve joined. To make a long story short, they liked us and they’re interested in letting us use their place. We’d work when they’re not there, which means odd hours for us, but that’s okay. They were super-impressed by the fact that we had just spent quite a few weeks in Italy recently, particularly that we spent a week in Sicily (where they’re from). I even tried to speak a little Italian to them! The matriarch of the family, Rosa, who is also the chef speaks no English and cooks virtually everything! If this works out, we can’t wait to eat her food. The kitchen is big, new, and super clean and seems like a great fit for us. We even talked to them about selling cakes to them for the restaurant (they currently get overpriced, mass-produced cakes from out of town), and even selling our stuff in the front. The location is also great, because it’s in a very upscale shopping strip in East Vineland (the nice part of Vineland). And there is even an upstairs that they don’t use, where we can store our stuff and set up a little office. It seems like a win-win situation for everyone, so we’re pretty excited…

I’m going to attach some pictures now, enjoy. And we’ll talk to you soon.

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Our booth in Woodstown

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Pumpkin cupcake with brown butter icing... check out the little bits of caramelized milk solids... yum.

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Dora the Explorer cake... haha

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Our booth in Franklinville

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Our booth in Franklinville

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The gingersnap cookie sandwiches

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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...

The gingersnap cookie sandwiches were a huge success.  We filled them with vanilla buttercream and rolled the edges in raw sugar, and people were really digging them.  The pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing were a smash as well.  The brown butter was key… it tasted so good! The carrot cupcakes didn’t sell as well as I expected, but the people who ate them were totally into them.

...

Yum... the gingersnap cookie sandwiches and the cupcakes sound wonderful--traditional but inspired combinations all.

Thanks for the update and good luck with the potential kitchen space!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Hello again. I forgot to mention that Jill and I are heading up the New York for the food show at the Javits Center this weekend. Two things...

Where should we stop for bakeries or general good eats along the way? We're going to Cherry Hill before making our way towards the City.

Next, is anyone going to be attending? We'd love to meet up if you are...

Okay, goodbye again.

-Stephen

Edited by ohmyganache (log)

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

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Thanks for the update guys - I've been thinking about you all and wondering when we'd hear from you again. As always your products look great - and yes I want one of those cookies. Its also good to hear (or not hear) that pricing is no longer a concern - based on the prices on your tags, I think they look fine.

I did want to offer my 5 am feedback. The feel that I get from your pics is a bit contradictory. I see Stephen in his whites standing over a table with handwritten tags with a few ears of corn thrown on a table cloth. I had been thinking that your bakery had more of an upscale feel - based on your products and personal appearance. The display in these pics suggests homey. I'd like to hear/see more about your thoughts on this since it ties back into the pricing and then ultimately what products you're presenting to the public.

You may have followed a recent thread on displaying pastries, which resulted in a bunch of great no/low cost ideas.

I hope this is helpful and keep it up!

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Hello again.  I forgot to mention that Jill and I are heading up the New York for the food show at the Javits Center this weekend.  Two things...

Where should we stop for bakeries or general good eats along the way?  We're going to Cherry Hill before making our way towards the City.

Next, is anyone going to be attending?  We'd love to meet up if you are...

Okay, goodbye again.

-Stephen

Yes Stephen, I am attending the show at the Javits Center, but I am going Monday.

PM me and let me know if you will be there on Monday and we can try and meet up.

Eric

President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Don't want to assume that you know this...The Chocolate Show is also in NYC this weekend...

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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