How One Small Business is Surviving the Pandemic
I started Sinful Treats in 2009 at the peak of the recession. Everyone thought I was crazy to start a business at that time. I had one product to sell, some unknown Filipino pastry called Food for the Gods. No one knew what it was. I had to tell people, “it’s like a blondie with dates and walnuts”. I started selling online, and giving out samples to whoever was open to trying my product. They’ve never heard of it, but once they tasted it, they loved it! Because everyone was hurting during the recession, I found that people were more inclined to help each other. Soon, a few coffee shops agreed to carry my products. And I kept selling online.
My big break came in 2011 when the Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento ordered 19,800 Snickerdoodle cookies for their holiday main event, The Polar Express. A year before that, we took my then 4 yr old son on the train ride, where they served cookies and hot cocoa just like in the movie, Polar Express. He took one bite of the cookie, then he told me, “Mommy, you should make the cookies”. Ah, the power of suggestion, from a 4 yr old! I ended up talking to the coordinators, gave them cookie samples and they loved my cookies! The following year, they ordered 19,800 Snickerdoodles. I said YES, even if at that time, I had no kitchen and no employees to help me. I had a couple of months to figure out how to make it happen.
I rented a kitchen in a restaurant at night, and asked friends to help out. I had a crew of 5 people. Like little elves, we’d bake all night while the restaurant was closed. We only had one oven with 2 racks, only able to bake 48 cookies every 12 minutes. The cookies were baked from scratched, scooped by hand, packaged individually, sealed with a heat sealer and labeled – all 19,800 of them! It was the most exhausting but exhilarating experience. It was then I knew that I loved the thrill and pain that came with being a business owner. We’ve been baking Polar Express snickerdoodles since then.
2020 would’ve been our 10th year baking for the CA State Railroad Museum. In 2019, we baked 47,000 cookies for their Spookomotive Halloween Train and Polar Express. But 2020 had a different plan for all of us. All of our Fall and Holiday events were cancelled. Being in the baking business, our 4th quarter is our busiest season, and that’s when we make the most profit. Suddenly, all of it was gone.
Having survived and thrived during the recession, I can honestly say that the 2020 pandemic is a lot harder than the recession.
I’ve experienced a lot as a business owner for the last 11 years, and learned a lot of lessons too. I had a brick and mortar bakery for about 4 years. I learned retail wasn’t for me. When I closed my bakery in 2016, I remember Etsy was becoming popular then. I thought how cool it would be if there was a website that sold baked goods like Etsy. Then other opportunities came along, and that idea got buried.
2020 started off great. Even during the first few months of lock down, business was still thriving. It wasn’t until June when I realized (or accepted) how bad the pandemic would be. During a very slow summer season, this “Etsy for baked goods” idea came back to me. I always tell my kids, when something bad happens, it’s usually a blessing in disguise. True entrepreneurs find opportunity even in the worst scenarios. This pandemic gave me the time to pursue this idea.
In October 2020, I launched Sinful Treats Marketplace – Baked Goods from The Best Local Bakers. SinfulTreats.net
Everything I have worked for seemed to be a stepping stone to what I’m doing now, this new path I’ve created. Having a brand that’s already established, a working website, products that have been tried and proven, years of networking and relationship building, all of this and more are now helping to make this new path easier to take and faster to grow. So far, we have 6 local brands that joined our online marketplace. All have their own specialty. Not only does it make it easier for customers to shop, not having to browse different websites, it also helps these small businesses to reach more people online. Plus, I’m able to share over a decade of experience and wisdom to new small business owners. I love baking, but my real passion is business. I get a thrill watching businesses grow. I’m excited to have these brands so far, all women owned, makes me extra proud. I hope you check them out by visiting our website. They each have their own vendor page in our website. SinfulTreats.net
Baked by Olga, Jhenn’s Sweet Tooths, Raquel’s Pet Treats, Kalani Kakes, Sophie’s Sweets, Spilled Milk Company