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Growing a Fan Base & Weighing Opportunity Costs
Episode 40 of The Vendor's Daughter
Iliana first started As Kneaded Bakery as a pop up while working full time for another baker in July of 2016.
She now owns her own bakery/storefront and has doubled the size of her business in the last 6 months.
Listen to find out how she consciously decided to grow and to find out her #1 piece of advice for anyone getting started on their own journey.
With Iliana Berkowitz Founder of As Kneaded Bakery
Iliana was working for another bakery when she decided to start her own. In July of 2016 As Kneaded Bakery was born.
Iliana started small, using her personal time to bake in the same commissary she was already employed at.
Not having a store front or any distribution channels setup, Iliana began growing awareness around her bread by creating pop up events at other local companies.
Her first was at Cleophus Quealy, a brewery in San Leandro Ca.
It was here that what she knew to be true was confirmed, her bread was so good “it sold itself.”
Being Your Biggest Fan
Iliana has no shame in stating her bread is the best and truly believes if it wasn’t this good there would be no point in making it. She knows she has a great product and believes in doing everything with excellence and therefore is proud to be the bakery’s primary sales person.
Growing a Larger Fan Base
Although the pop ups were successful; they weren’t enough. Knowing that she needed a larger fan base in order to grow her company, Iliana created a bread club, where subscribers would get a new loaf of bread, a description of that bread and a personalized newsletter updating members on the success of the bakery, making it a CSB (community supported bakery).
The bread club delivered to 6 different locations in various parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. These 6 retail locations agreed to allow Iliana to deliver her bread to their storefronts. Members of the bread club would then go to the most convenient storefront to them (location determined when joining the program) to pick up their delivery.
At this time Iliana was doing EVERYTHING: making the bread, selling the bread, delivering the bread, creating the newsletters so creating 6 focal points for members to pick up their membership loaves rather than delivering to each individual home was a huge time saver. It also allowed Iliana to extend her reach far beyond her San Leandro roots.
Consciously Deciding to Grow
As Kneaded was growing but Iliana’s time was not. She came to a crossroads where she knew she had to make a decision, either quit her day job and focus fully on growing her business, or keep the steady paycheck and be okay with keeping As Kneaded small.
After length deliberation and weighing the opportunity costs, Iliana decided she had more to lose by not taking the risk on growing her business, then she did by staying in the safety of her full-time job.
Iliana was at another pop up at Cleophus Quealy when the owner of a local grocery store asked her if she sold wholesale.
At the time wholesale wasn’t on Iliana’s radar.
A few months passed and Iliana went back to the owner of that grocery store and asked if she could use the store as a pick up point for the bread club.
The owner questioned Iliana, wondering why should would rather have the bread club than sell wholesale to the grocery store. When Iliana retells the story, she laughs and says she truly didn’t consider that, she was just focused on growing the business in a particular way.
The conversation changed the protectory of the business, Iliana opened up a wholesale line (a difficult process), and now sales to grocery stores all over the Bay Area, including the infamous Berkley Bowl.
A Place to Call Home
In November of 2018, after an impressive 6 month build out, As Kneaded Bakery, finally had a permanent home and a bakery of its own. Based in San Leandro California, the bakery runs almost 24/7 as wholesale orders continue to grow. The bakery is also open to the public on Wednesday nights, Wholesome Wednesdays, and on the weekends, when the As Kneaded team turns the front of the bakery into a store front.
Giving Back to the Community
Iliana loves the community that continues to show up for her. She jokes that her and her husband are now local celebrities and that it’s hard to go anywhere locally without being noticed. And she loves it. She loves that people make homemade jam and bring it to her to put on her bread and she loves that she can now give back to other female entrepreneurs.
On Wednesday nights when you pick up your bread you can also pick up a fresh vegetable box from a local CSA (community supported agriculture).
And on the weekends its common to see other pop up stores in front of the bakery.
Iliana knows that pop ups worked for her and she wants to help other female business owners gain exposure for their brand while also providing a fun experience for customers while they wait in line.
Where to Go
You can find out more about Iliana and her bakery at askneadedbakery.com and you can follow their story on Instagram @as.kneaded.bakery
Where to Listen
You can listen to the full episode on Spotify, itunes, Stitcher and iHeartMedia. Search for The Vendor’s Daughter, Episode 40 to hear Iliana’s full story.
We’ll also go deeper into topics like:
· Listening to your customers
· The importance of networking
· Personalizing your business
· Knowing whether or not the thing you’re passionate about is a business or a hobby
· Not taking too much advice from too many people