My Business Story

vanilla malt bundt

The bakery’s 3rd birthday is this month! As I’ve thinking about how to celebrate the occasion, it occurred to me that many of you might not know very much of the story behind my business. So here goes…

I’ve been baking for pretty much as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved being in the kitchen, especially when I could watch my mom or grandmother and see what they were doing. I think the earliest thing I made was brownies from a box mix. I became an expert at scraping the bowl so there wouldn’t be anything left for my sisters to lick. (I’m a little nicer these days when it comes to my children.) My fondness for mixing things up eventually led to a chemistry degree from Caltech. However, I quickly realized that I’d prefer to spend my time interacting with people rather than chemicals. Then I ended up as an accidental banker, in a career that would last for two decades.

Through it all, I continued to bake. I made birthday cakes for my employees (or other desserts when requested). It was assumed that I would bring dessert to all potlucks. My husband bought me my first cooking magazine one year when I had the flu, and then started buying me cookbooks for most special occasions. My early love of science led me to Shirley Corriher and Alton Brown and the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. I started a notebook to keep track of my baking experiments, and that turned into a baking blog. One by one, I conquered various challenges–croissants, fancy layer cakes, sourdough bread. I admit, though, that I’m still a bit afraid to try tempering chocolate.

Over time, a number of people suggested that I should start a baking business. I toyed with the idea, but was put off by the fact that I’d need to figure out how to prepare things in a commercial kitchen as well as other logistics. I was reasonably happy with the status quo. Then in early 2010, something happened that made me start to think more seriously about where my life was headed. I applied for a position at the bank that I’d been working towards for years. I was highly qualified and made it to the final round of interviewing, but I was in competition with many other great candidates. I didn’t get the job and I was devastated. That was the first time that I seriously questioned whether I wanted to continue in my career, since there didn’t seem to be any more room for advancement.

While I was trying to figure out where my banking career was going, I went on Facebook and Twitter and set up accounts for a possible business. Several years earlier, one of my employees told me that he had the perfect name for me to use if I ever decided to open a business–To “Di” For. I didn’t make the social media accounts public at that time, but the seed of To Di For Bakery was planted…

More of my business story:  Part 2     Part 3     Part 4