I had a chance to interview Mary Riesgraf, founder of Sweet Mary's, which has some delightful-sounding treats. I asked her about running the business - so those of you interested in going from a hobby to a job might be intrigued - and I also asked her for some baking tips!
How difficult was it to go from making yummy sweets for friends to running a business?
Honestly it wasn't difficult because I made such large quantities for holidays that I was use to making a lot of sweets at a time. I had a lot of systems in place already like ordering supplies, making the sweets and packaging them, so there were only a few things I had to figure out like shipping, getting a merchant account, creating a website, making a logo but at the end of the day it was all fun. The first few weeks of my company I went to bed and my cheeks hurt from smiling all day. I was doing something that I absolutely loved and it made all the difference in my day.
What is it like working with your family members?
I love working with my family members. I grew up with 5 sisters on a farm and my parents own a construction company. So from a very early age I was working with my parents and my sisters. A big part of working with family is figuring out what is needed and wanted and making and keeping agreements. I remember being in the 3rd grade working with my Dad in the barn and helping him load up his trailers with tools. I loved spending that time with my Dad, he taught me a lot about how good accomplishing a project feels. My boyfriend, my daughters and I have a blast and I love how involved we all are in Sweet Mary's. We all help our sweets be the best they can be! At the end of the day what matters most is family. We created Sweet Mary's in the hopes that our little company will grow and be a place we all love to be.
What advice do you have for women who might want to try to turn an enjoyable activity into a business?
This is my second business I have started and the advice that I would give about turning a passion into a business is to:
1) Figure out what the ideal scene looks like.... If you could wave a magic wand what would your business be like, feel like and look like?
2) Set goals, post them and review them daily, weekly and monthly. Keep statistics always looking to better your best. Numbers don't lie, so if you keep track of goals vs progress it makes it clear what needs to change or what area you need to access.
3) Set office/work hours. I set very specific work hours and I keep them! I still have a house to run with the 5 of us, I need to allow time for groceries, mail, family night, date night, school projects and events. All of this can be squeezed in but you have to set a schedule and don't break your office hours or you will run yourself into the ground, be crabby and have a crabby family too! (Been there done that!)
What's one great baking tip you can share?
My best baking tip is to use good butter and good vanilla!! It makes such a difference.... a good Irish Butter and Vanilla from Mexico are my favorites!