This former editor went from working at a men's magazine to making macarons for a living.
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New York City native Dana Pollack, a former photo editor at Muscle and Fitness magazine, quit her job to go to culinary school in 2011 and start a small business.
"I had a lightbulb moment and asked myself: 'Am I really going to be doing this for the rest of my life? [Editing photos of] these men in Speedos, and being so stressed out? What am I passionate about?' " Pollack told FOX Business. "It’s always been baking, and entertaining, and food, and the trigger happy part of me decided to make a jump and go for it."
She dreamt up a way to reimagine macaron flavors while she was studying pastry arts and came up with inventive riffs on her favorite American desserts like red velvet, fruity cereal, the Girl Scouts' Thin Mint cookies and S'mores inspired macarons. She opened up Dana's Bakery in 2012 as an online-only, direct to consumer brand. Now, she ships nationwide and sells her sweet treats at Dylan's Candy bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Here's how Pollack saved up to start her small business and scale it to reach customers across the country.
FOX Business: How much of your own money did you invest in your small business?
Dana Pollack: Before I started Dana’s Bakery, I was the photo editor for Muscle & Fitness Magazine. I managed to save a small nest egg while working -- which is basically impossible in New York City -- and started Dana’s Bakery with $15,000. Five years later, I took out a $60,000 loan, and a line of credit $30,000 from the bank to help with operating expenses, but prior to that all profits were put back into the business to grow. I am now in the process of doing my first round of fund raising, and am currently pitching. With eight years of experience we have data and a proven concept which always helps.
FOX Business: How did you grow and scale your business?
Pollack: Every business is different and requires different things to get off the ground and running. Being one of the first ever online-only direct to consumer bakeries at the time, I did not need a large amount of money to build out a store front or inventory, so I was able to organically grow with the money that came in from sales. I had a friend build my website, and I rented a small test kitchen (hourly) which came with basic baking equipment (ovens, rolling racks, sheet pants, etc.) At the time, I was a one-woman-show and was doing local New York City delivery by hand. Because of my background in photograohy and exposure through social media, people caught wind of what I was doing and started inquiring about nationwide delivery. It was then that I had to figure out the logistics of shipping, and Dana’s Bakery started to grow in a big way.
FOX Business: What was the biggest road block or challenge you faced?
Pollack: I never went to business school, so managing the growth of the business has been as challenging as it has been rewarding. Eight years and 40 employees later, I am now seasoned but still learning every day.
FOX Business: What are your plans for growth now?
Pollack: It is such an exciting time for Dana’s Bakery. We are scheduled to release two new products in 2020, in addition to our direct-to-consumer business, we are expanding into the consumer packaged goods space. We are also in the process of opening new offices and a class space in New York City where we will teach our macaron and cookie making techniques.
FOX Business: What advice do you have for others starting a small business?
Pollack: Start small and try not to get too overwhelmed! Rome wasn’t built in a day and you don’t always need investment to start your business. Map out what you will need to get your business up and running, once you have a handle on that, build out your plan one year at a time. The plan will most likely change along the way but having this road map will come in handy when you feel overwhelmed or need to refocus. When you are at the point of hiring, hire strong people who compliment your weaknesses. This way you build a strong team and you can divide and conquer on responsibilities.