What exactly is your business?
My business is called Annie’s Signature Sweets. We are a Cleveland-based pastry catering business that works with businesses, realtors, event planners and more to create fun, flirty and flavorful unique sweets. We pride ourselves in making small batches from scratch. We hand roll and cut all of our cookies, brownies, bars, our tart shells and more. We have a menu, but also create custom desserts for dessert tables, corporate gifts, weddings and more.
How did you come up with your business idea?
My business idea came up truly because of my passion for desserts. I grew up with an extremely large family. My mom is 1 of 15 kids. I have 42 first cousins on my mom’s side and a million other relatives. When we would get together, everyone brought something to share and the only thing they would request is finger foods so it was easy to serve, and eat. I am a picky eater and truly only eat dessert, bread and fruit, so I would always make dessert to make sure I would have something to enjoy and share it with everyone else. I was not trained as a baker, so after going to college and becoming a social worker for Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services for 6 years, I realized this was not my passion. A friend of mine mentioned the possibility of me going to pastry school to become a Pastry Chef. In 2006, there was no food network or famous chefs. I quit my social work job, went to Pastry School at Johnson & Wales University, and my pastry career began. I worked at resorts and restaurants all over the US for 11 1/2 years and I had truly found my passion. After working for someone else for 11 years, I was needing a new challenge. I went on a yoga retreat in 2016 to Bali. It gave me time to reset and rediscover myself and my future. It was there that I decided to think about becoming an entrepreneur. Pastry is my passion and always will be.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration is currently based on unique flavor combinations, such as my signature lemon lavender cookie, my pistachio rosewater cookie, my love for all things to be from scratch and natural-looking. I don’t like to use food dyes and I use the freshest ingredients possible. I take pride in making sure we put out the freshest, highest quality product by focusing on orders placed on our website or through contacting us by email.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
My biggest accomplishment so far with my business is definitely getting people to know about my business and to be excited about my products. I know that my products are great quality because I have spent 11 1/2 years perfecting my recipes, but to know it is being received as well as it is by other people is the most rewarding thing.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
The biggest challenge for sure with starting my business has been to learn anything and everything about running a business. My pastry passion is strong, but I had never in my life taken a business class or known what networking was or why it is necessary.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
In 5 years, I hope to still enjoy baking and sharing desserts with others. It feeds my soul. One of my fears prior to starting my business was that I would somehow get bored with baking or not enjoy it if it was a job. It had been a hobby and stress relief for most of my life. I am still obsessed with dessert and currently plan vacations around dessert. I spent my 40th in Paris and literally ate my way through all of the bakeries in Paris. I am not sorry about that.
Any advice for other women business owners?
My advice for anyone wanting to start a business is just to take one step at a time, ask for help, and be passionate about whatever it is that you want to do. Without the passion, it won’t be fun and probably won’t be successful. The passion continues to propel me daily.