Another Chapter Comes To A Close

January 14th, 2012 | Rachel

Today marks my last day working at the Three Green Ducks (which, as many of you already know, is not the real name of the bakery).  If you haven’t read about how I ended up with the job, here’s the back story.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been a paid member of the baking industry for almost six months now.  Its even harder to believe that I haven’t done any substantial lawyer work (outside helping a few friends) in almost eight months.

I can’t say I’ve missed being a lawyer.  I guess that is a good sign that I am onto something better suited for me.  Don’t get me wrong, working as a corporate litigator was really interesting sometimes.  I know I loved the job when I first started.  I liked how mentally taxing it was.  At the end of a great day of work, my brain would be exhausted from processing and analyzing so much information.  When people asked what I did, I usually told them I was a professional problem solver.  The client would come in with their million dollar problem, and the partner(s) would divide it up into multiple layers of very specific problems, which were then assigned to us associates to solve.  As the case progressed, you got to see how your work product fit together with everyone else’s to solve the headlining problem.  Of course that was usually just saving one giant corporation’s money from another giant corporation, but it was still an interesting intellectual exercise.  It wasn’t something I could put my heart into.

In contrast, as I have mentioned before, I really believe in working at the bakery.  I believe in the physical product itself, and I believe in what it means for the people who buy it.  I believe that operating a bakery is a direct service to the community, and I believe it adds to people’s quality of life.

When I get sucked into wondering how my bakery will ever be as successful as the Three Green Ducks, I get overwhelmed and discouraged.  However, when I start thinking about the individual components — the recipes, the presentation, the message I want to communicate to the customers — and why I want to start my own business, I get excited and energized.

My only complaint about working at the Three Green Ducks — and I hope none of my coworkers take offense to this — but after a few months I did start to feel like my brain was starting to melt.  This shouldn’t come as any surprise.  After all, I was hired to be a physical body behind the counter… not a brain.

There were little opportunities here and there to think creatively.  I pointed out an inconsistency with the price of pie slices that led to a new pie-pricing scheme.  I made a protective shield out of shopping bags and packing tape to protect a stack of cake boxes that would get dirty every time someone emptied the coffee grinds into a nearby trashcan.  For a couple of months I tried to convince the Powers In Charge that putting everything in the cake case perpendicular to the window and leaving the case facing the window empty discouraged people walking by from stopping in.  If the first thing someone sees when they peak in the window is an empty cake case, its unlikely they are going to investigate further.  (The explanation I was given for not changing the placement of the cakes was that they didn’t sell as well when put in the case facing the window.)  On slow days, I recalculated what I thought the price of certain products should be.  For example, if you sell a 10″ cheesecake for $53 whole or cut it into slices that sell for $4 each (totaling $54 for a whole cake’s worth) even though it takes an employee a good 30 minutes to cut the slices, then you are making less money off of the slices and should keep more of the whole cakes in the case to sell.

Of course, it is easy for me to sit back at a distance and poke holes in my employer’s business model when I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.

I’m excited to tackle these kinds of issues of my own, and I am looking forward to the intellectual challenge of creating and running a viable business.  There’s really no end to the subjects I am going to have to learn: building codes, food safety regulations, employee issues, advertising, finances, business-related technology, in addition to the chemistry of baking in bulk.

I’m sure I will continue to reflect on all of the things I learned while working at the Three Green Ducks.  It was very enriching experience, and I felt like I had a lot of sincere ‘goodbyes’ today.

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