Allison's Book Bag

Interview with an Entrepreneur

Posted on: May 8, 2017

One of my big projects at my church job is to create a monthly newsletter. This spring, I started to write my own content for it, besides including submissions from members. What follows is a reprint of an article I wrote about a local entrepreneur.

Baking has always been a part of Kat’s life, even if owning a bakery hadn’t initially been part of her dreams for when she grew up. As a child, Kat spent hours upon hours on top of her grandmother’s kitchen counter, rolling pie crust and mixing chocolate chip cookies. In her teens, she found herself unintentionally taking cooking classes. She started by baking for family and friends, and that grew to baking for friends of friends and co-workers. In 2008, she applied for a vendor’s spot at a small farmers’ market, and her goods went public. Three years later, she was working multiple jobs and still continuing her farmers’ market schedule. A friend advised her to “go big or go home.”

ALLISON: When and why did your start Gratitude Bakery?

KAT: Gratitude opened over four years ago. Like many of the great things and challenges in life, I believe I’ll look back and see a perfectly formed picture. The reasons why and the exactness is hidden in friendship. I walked into our corner building, took a look at the only remaining relic from its days in old Bethany town, and said, “This is it.” In the early days I use to be sure that there was a great reason. A moment when faits would collide and the reason for everything would be revealed. Over the years my belief has changed. If I touch one life with kindness, understanding, or warmth, and find joy in a gentleman’s face when he sits with a cup of coffee, the paper, and cinnamon rolls that reminds him of his grandmother, that’s enough.

ALLISON: What skills do you and your staff offer?

KAT: I am the one woman circus! I prep, bake, cook, clean, wash dishes, order supplies, connect and purchase from local vendors and farmers, purchase weekly goods, purchase fair traded retail, contact and schedule local musicians, work every shift at Gratitude, keep social media going, write the newsletter, deal with emails, make the phone calls and do what needs to be done. I’m in by 4am and, depending if Gratitude hosts a live event, I’m there until 11pm.

I lucked out with my mother! She comes in every Saturday morning. She mans the station, does the dishes, and is one great bakery box maker! She also does much of the background paperwork. If it wasn’t for her, I physically couldn’t do it.

ALLISON: Tell me about Pie Day!

KAT: Pie Day started as an idea a customer brought to me to increase community. Over the years it has become an important part in helping us fund live music with the hope of fully funding ONE music license a year. All pies are scratch baked with fruit from my dear local farmers and served with homemade ice cream. Pie is sold by the slice and you can always take it to go. Last year three of my musicians surprised us with a performance.

It was the most exhausting, enlightening, frustrating and exciting year of my life! This ‘little’ process of finding, buying, restoring, renovating, etc. took 15 months of labor, a few friends, lots of phone calls, a dozen permits, a city planning hearing, and 3 city council meetings. It was a very long process and many folks came with me for the ride to whom I will be forever grateful for!”—Kat, about her first year.

ALLISON: When and why did you start hosting musicians and authors?

KAT: From the beginning! Community is Gratitude’s greatest commitment and hosting Lincoln’s talent has been a dream. Bethany needed a spot that folks could come and feel safe.

ALLISON: How have you connected with musicians?

KAT: Every musician is different. I have a unique and different relationship with each of them! From Bethany local Tim Kettler walking in with his guitar one night, to Laurie McClain contacting me off a recommendation from Dr. John Walker, to hunting Paul Baker and me having to wear down Jack Downs. They’re the best people I know!

ALLISON: What type of offerings are you looking for with open mic nights?

KAT: We have 2 types of open mic. The first is our monthly Open Mic every 3rd Friday. This open mic is primarily for musicians, but we have had the occasional slam poet or comedian. Our Open Mic night has run since the beginning and its a great opportunity for the public to meet our house musicians.

Our second form of open mic is during our monthly Writers’ Night. We feature a local author or poet and finish the night with a mic open for those willing.

Both evenings are open to the public and encourages an audience. A purchase is always required to help keep me open.

ALLISON: What type of promotion have you done? How have social media and word of mouth helped?

KAT: Many of the traditional roads of promotion aren’t open to us and sadly aren’t effective for a small business. Social Media is a necessity nowadays. We have a very active Facebook page. Of course that doesn’t always means it works and does anything. We have a monthly online newsletter that has become extremely helpful in keeping regulars in the loop and giving Gratitude a larger voice. Word of mouth and creating real connection with customers is the BEST and most effective way.

ALLISON: Sell readers on why they should visit Gratitude?

KAT: I run a business with my core values. Everything is made by scratch with my own hands—with local ingredients from farmers and producers in the area. History is important to me and you can taste that in the food. We’ve become known for our scones, cinnamon rolls, and evening soups and entrée. For those who enjoy a business knowing their name, thinking of them when baking their favorite dessert, and having a hug waiting when you need it—you might just become a Gratitude regular.

ALLISON: What are your dreams for the future of Gratitude? 

KAT: We’ll continue to evolve and change. Gratitude certainly morphed into what it is today and I assume I will just need to hang on for the ride! On the day I lock the door for the last time, I want folks to reminisce not only of our foods but of an owner that cared and was kind and a place that was always genuine in business.

2 Responses to "Interview with an Entrepreneur"

Don’t forget to take Leonora and me to Gratitude when we visit Andy and you in the fall.

I’d love to do this!

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