As a local bakery that thrived on face-to-face customer service, Honey & Rye has found it essential to adapt a new business model that is far from how they are used to running things. During a time where it seems like just about every person, place and thing is affected by COVID-19, we chatted with Anne, owner of Honey & Rye, to see what success looks like for a small business amidst a global pandemic.
How are you keeping your business afloat during this difficult time?
Flexibility has proven to be essential for survival over the last few months. We have had to (what feels like) overhaul our operations completely in a matter of days. We’ve changed, adapted, and tweaked our business model from one that relied on face-to-face customer service as the backbone of what makes us us, to totally remove that element from our operations. It has been difficult to navigate, not to mention the logistics of it, but as long as we accept that we now have to do things differently than we’ve done, that we can break out of the box and rules we’ve set for ourselves, then we can survive. We also have a customer base that repeatedly chooses to support us, so we knew we’d figure out a way to continue serving them some way, some how!
What motivates you?
As a 4th generation entrepreneur, I am motivated by the (somewhat elusive!) concept of entrepreneurial freedoms. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue my dream of owning my own bakery, and after 7 years of being in business, I hope to someday not feel connected at the hip to my business. I have a feeling that might still be a ways off!
What is the “story” of how you created Honey and Rye? How did you get started?
Honey & Rye came to life after spending several years baking in different kitchens and realizing that my passion for pursuing a culinary career went way beyond baking. I ultimately wanted to create a space that matched my values and upheld community as a driving force of its success, and of course, that serves outstanding coffee & pastries!
Has there been any positive learning curves as you navigate COVID-19 restrictions and operate a bakery?
We had talked for a long time about getting an online store up and running, but when we were faced with shutting down operations or figure out how to operate in an efficient and contactless way, our online store was up within two weeks!! It has also forced me to slow down and focus on figuring out our next steps and evaluate what’s best for the business, because we don’t have the luxury of taking big risks right now.
What has your experience been like working at ModernWell and why is it beneficial to have an offsite space for your team?
MW has been essential as a space for me and my team to use as a place outside of the Bakehouse to focus on our larger picture discussions. Even with restrictions in place, it continues to be a place of inspiration, collaboration, and community.
What’s your favorite thing about owning a small business?
I love the connection to my community it provides. I have an amazing staff that love what they do and continue to chose to get up (very!) early in the morning to pour their hearts into making & baking things for other people, which is pretty cool to me to be a part of. First time guests, long time regulars, vendors, and neighbors, we love connecting and sharing in a special moment in their day, which these days, can be as simple as a wave or a glance or nod of appreciation for what we do. That’s what continues to feed me as a small business owner. Then we get to do it all over again tomorrow!