There is a famous quote from the Mean Girls where the character Janis says,“Oh, I love seeing teachers outside of school. It's like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.” It is often that students forget that the same teachers who inspire and fuel our ambitions have ambitions of their own. One example is the proud entrepreneur Ms. Gage who has ventured out to creating her own bakery business. So far, we knew her as the much appreciated English teacher who pushes her students to be the best that they could. From now on, we will also know her as the charismatic businesswoman who is spreading joy with the creation of her baked goods.
Tell us a little bit about your company:
Sweet was officially born two years ago out of a love for feeding others. My mother was home for years with my siblings, and she and I was always baking. I remember the smells and family fun in the kitchen and centered around food. I want my children to have those memories. I also know how life gets crazy for everyone. My thought was ‘who wouldn’t enjoy breakfast on their porch in the morning?’ Not just any breakfast, but a homemade breakfast that has been chosen by you and made with no additives or preservatives. The idea of delivered bakery boxes was born. When an order is placed, the customer indicates what should be included and gives me a date(s) for delivery. I bake and package and deliver on the chosen date early in the morning.
Did you always want to run a bakery? Where did your ambition stem from?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but had no idea I could profit from something I love. I haven’t always wanted to run a bakery, and there are definitely aspects of it where I fall short.
What finally made you take the leap?
After a second successful season at the market and a solid customer base, I hoped that I could make the leap to part time teaching and full time baker. I am now able to spend mornings with my children and baking, come to school and have some academic interaction, to then go home to my children and bake and package and plan for the next day.
Who do you work with? Who has helped you make your business possible?
There is no way I could have done this myself. I have the best of friends and husband a person could ask for. My best friends give their time and ideas consistently, even two years later, for nothing more than samples.
What are some of the advantages or disadvantages of having to balance both being a teacher and an entrepreneur?
I have the advantage of having found two careers that I love. I have been teaching for nineteen years and am still passionate about what I teach and the students I teach. Now I have a second passion that is completely different, and it is exciting and scary all in one. There is no balance, I am constantly running to get one thing or another done on time.
Where do you see your business going in five or ten years?
I have no idea, but I can’t wait to see!
For students who plan to run a business, what advice do you have?
I don’t know that I should give advice. I have kind of made this up as I go, and now that it is proving profitable, I’m having to go back and restructure the business side to grow the baking side, if that makes sense. I’m a good baker but not a good numbers person (shocking to no one that has ever entered my classroom). Business has A LOT to do with numbers and taxes and legalities.
How would one place an order?
Sweet is sold online at www.sweetpeaknc.com, on facebook www.facebook.com/sweetpeaknc or at the Holly Springs Farmers Market. I also sell to the BREW coffee bars in Cary and Raleigh.
It is so enriching to see a hardworking teacher making ways to have the best of both worlds. In our school where there is a lot of entrepreneurial enthusiasm, it is teachers like Ms. Gage who give students that push to make their dreams come true.