Meet Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods. After a dark period of addiction and homelessness, Janie Deegan found solace and healing through baking. Now, she’s a Food Network CHOPPED Sweets champion, and baker of sweet treats including her famous pie crust cookies (available online here). Janie had plans to scale her business through several grocers this year, but things have changed since the outbreak of Coronavirus. As part of our Voices From The Field series, we talked with Janie about how her business is doing.
How is your business doing?
March was super hard. I was supposed to launch with two new grocers, a national ice cream collaboration. My sales this March alone would have provided one-third of what I brought in last year. It was a big financial hit.
What grants have you applied to and what has your experience been in applying to them?
I applied to every small business grant out there, and haven’t received any money except from Hot Bread Kitchen. It’s disappointing but not surprising. It doesn’t seem like these grants are built to support newer small businesses—they are modeled after businesses that have been around for a decade or more and have more stable revenue.
Through Hot Bread Kitchen, my employees and I were able to get stipends. They really need that money. I still have my two employees on payroll working, but I am worried that if our e-commerce business stops I won’t be able to keep employing two employees plus myself several days a week.
How are you doing?
Professionally, I am grateful my overhead is low and some really great things have happened, like I’ve launched at 25 Whole Foods Market locations. Personally, I run almost every day. And I’ve been cooking a lot more. I took a hobby and made a business, and now that I have the time I have been able to find the joy in cooking again.
But it is really hard to plan for the next month. There is so much unknown in the world, and so much unknown whether my business will survive.
I am lucky—I used to be homeless seven years ago, so it’s overwhelming that I have everything I need right now. I have gratitude for that. My community, my customers are asking me what I need. I appreciate our community of entrepreneurs—I go into Hot Bread Kitchen and see Yolfer and Donny of Pabade. It’s so nice to know that I’m not alone.
How you have pivoted your business to e-commerce?
The learning curve is really steep—I am figuring out how to do something we never did before. But I’ve sent out over 1,000 packages and have only had a few issues. Compared to the beginning of the year, my e-commerce business has seen an 11,000% increase in orders. It’s amazing to see how many people are ordering to support small businesses.
Through Feed the Recovery, Hot Bread Kitchen is helping our incubator businesses build a bridge to economic stability.