Hey, Your Baking Bestie here! Full disclosure, this is not my usual type of post sharing a new recipe, technique or Featured Baker. But I hope you hang around to read the gratitude and also get a sneak peek into some exciting things ahead for our home baking industry!
You may not realize it, but this blog went live on Christmas day last year, 2021. I had been creating it for months and spontaneously decided to go live on Christmas night. I think it was kind of my gift to myself since I was anxious to start sharing, connecting and helping others. So, as we come up on a year, it feels appropriate to share with you some of my reflections from being Your Baking Bestie. I’m also bursting with excitement for things we have in store. BIG things that will hopefully be game changers for many of you. EEK! I’m so excited for 2023.
The Heart Of Your Baking Bestie
Many of you already know, but if you don’t, in June 2021, our then 15-year-old son was diagnosed with Leukemia. As you can imagine, it was a complete shock and turned our whole world upside down. Up until that day, we were a very normal family of four (plus 2 bulldogs). Baking was always a big part of my life since a young age, and in 2020, I helped my then 13-year-old daughter start her own cottage baking business. But up until my son’s diagnosis, you could usually find our family traveling for his baseball tournaments most weekends. Life was fun, happy, and busy. And then everything changed.
We were thrown into a whirlwind of questions without answers, unchartered waters and unimaginable worry and fear. Thinking back, I don’t know how I kept my head, but we lived minute to minute for a long time. There were a lot of days, nights and weeks spent in the hospital. I clearly remember watching my son sleep in the hospital one night and I knew that in order to preserve my own mental health, I needed something uplifting to focus on that wasn’t related to cancer. Living in the hospital, I couldn’t bake, or help my daughter with her business and my son sadly wasn’t playing baseball anytime soon.
What has always made me happiest is helping others, in any way I can, to make an impact. I thought, “I love baking, I have a lot to share but what I’d love to do is help other home bakers.” I knew from helping my daughter with her business that home bakers didn’t have an easy road. They were incredibly talented, but it’s hard to get discovered operating from your home. So, the heart of Your Baking Bestie was born. I wanted to do what I could to help home bakers succeed. And also celebrate hobby bakers and aspiring bakers to follow their passion, fill your life with what truly brings you joy. In that moment, our family was literally experiencing how precious life was. I felt compelled to encourage and help others create a life they love.
Your Baking Bestie Featured Bakers
Over the last year, we have recognized and celebrated 22 home bakers! 22 INCREDIBLY talented bakers who never ceased to amaze me. Specializing in all different types of goodies, from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, they all had completely different stories. They all had different backgrounds, different reasons for starting their businesses, different goals. But they all had a couple things in common. They all LOVE what they do and had such passion and excitement for their creations. And they LOVE the joy and amazement that their work brought to their customers. They go out of their way to create unique and special items to bring joy. And if you remember a specific birthday cake or treat from your childhood, you know that these creations can become core memories for life.
I can’t express how honored and special it has been for me to connect with these bakers and share their stories. They’ve taught me SO much in this process and it has been such a privilege to help recognize, celebrate and promote them for their work. I feel lucky to call many of them friends and I will ALWAYS continue to support, promote and celebrate them all as they reach their goals!
Something else I’ve discovered through this last year is that the baking community is SO loving. There are hundreds of thousands of us and more often than not, they are willing to share, educate and help other bakers. The friendships that form where they send each other business if they are too busy, make a stencil for one another, borrow a certain tool or just cheer each other on from afar; you don’t see that in every industry. I encourage you to build a network, support each other; community over competition makes us all stronger.
While the people may be amazing, the industry is not without its challenges. While I was already familiar with some of the challenges, the last year has been very enlightening for me. Through deep conversations with Featured Bakers, social media connections and my own research there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, the huge swings in state-to-state regulations for home bakers is astounding! You may be lucky enough to live in a state that allows you the freedom to operate and grow a successful business easily. But for many, their states have BIG hurdles to overcome in order to achieve success.
Every year, legislation is improving across the country, but a lot more work is needed to help home bakers succeed. Many states have a food producers advocacy group which helps influence and support law changes. I’m engaged with the group from my state, and I encourage all bakers to be engaged in their own state groups. I can also tell you, I’m advocating for home bakers in other states as well; we all deserve the opportunity to succeed.
Advocacy is also needed across the general public as most people have never heard of a “cottage baker” or realize a talented home baker may be in their community. I see a tremendous opportunity to uncover these amazing bakers!
More than anything, I see home bakers spending the majority of their time trying to make sales. Instead of doing what they truly love, in the kitchen, they are spending far too much time wearing all the other hats. Social media, communications, inventory management, photographer, and many others. We have opportunity here.
What’s Ahead in 2023
We have SO much in store for 2023, and together, we’re going to address many of the challenges I just spoke of. I can’t share all the details just yet but will be able to very soon; stay tuned! What I can tell you is that an insane amount of time and thought has gone into what is coming. With a focus on how we can help home bakers increase their rate of success and turn what many consider a “side gig” into profitable careers and businesses.
The talent and passion that exists in the home baking industry is simply amazing and more people need to experience it. Fueled by passion to help others, love for baking and the joy it brings to people, I’ll be a launching another website. Don’t worry, this blog will still continue and grow! But this new site will be a game changer for home bakeries and this industry. We can’t boil the ocean overnight, but we can make progress!
This exciting new adventure is starting in 2023 and I promise to keep you informed. I can’t wait to connect with you all in new ways! We’re just getting started and 2023 is all about YOU!
If You Only Knew
As we close out the final days of 2022 (another crazy year), please let me gush for a moment. I could express my gratitude for days, but I’ll try to be concise. When this blog went live last Christmas Day, I had no idea what was in store. I was in the scariest time of my life and this blog helped me more than you could ever know. I just wanted to help and connect with people while distracting myself and fill up long hospital hours. And not only has it grown more than I imagined, but it has led me to this next endeavor. One where I hope the impact will be even greater.
THANK YOU for reading, for connecting, for following along. I appreciate you and will continue to work hard to bring you value in 2023 and beyond.
Lastly and most importantly, our son is doing wonderful. We’re 547 days into treatment, with another 344 days to go. But who’s counting? It’s a LONG treatment journey but he’s in remission and we must continue to give him the best chance at a lifelong cure. We are SO grateful every day. I hope to be writing for you late into the nights in 2023 after cheering on my boy at the baseball diamond.
Cheers to what we’ve accomplished in 2022 and what’s ahead for 2023!
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