Yeah, I had a bakery. Fanny & Jane was my Brooklyn-based online sweets company. It was co-founded by my good friend Faryn Einhorn and me and it existed from March 2009 until July 2010 – sixteen of the longest months of my life. We created super-yummy, handmade comfort sweets that people bought for gifts, events, weddings, etc. It was definitely a labor of love, an adventure, and we learned a ton along the way. Also, I may be responsible for a few local murders that occurred right around the same time.
When I struck out on a journey to leave my boring law-firm desk job in 2009, I had no idea I’d end up venturing down the path of opening my own business, let alone a bakery. I’d always been a performer, an actor, a writer, not an entrepreneur with a knack for the food services industry. I liked to bake, but it wasn’t even really something I would have described as a passion. So…why the eff open a bakery? Who knows, I make weird decisions.
Faryn and I first started baking sweets together when we tested (and perfected!) a brownie recipe that we adored. So we ventured into other delicious treats like buttercream cookie sandwiches and red velvet cake bites. It’s worth mentioning that we are two of the biggest cookie monsters I know. Actually, we love all sweets – pies, cakes, brownies, whatever. So it didn’t take much to get excited about our wares and the possibility of selling them. And sell them we did.
But after sixteen complicated months, I knew that owning and operating a bakery just wasn’t for me. I just didn’t love it enough. And I felt like it was taking me away from the things I wanted to be doing instead, like performing comedy. It sucked to travel so far down one road only to realize I didn’t like where I was headed, but there was no denying my negative feelings and experience. It was terrifically hard to run this little bakery on my own (plus I ended up dragging my good-natured boyfriend into the fray with me – the man rolls a mean cake bite) and I felt overwhelmed by the amount of decision and action a new business required. Even though we were successful, including one furiously busy holiday season, I simply wasn’t fulfilled by it.
Initially, something about the creative control of a new business drew me in. I loved brainstorming about colors and fonts and labels and potential store fronts we might someday own ten years down the road. Creating a theoretical bakery from the ground up felt almost like putting on a comedy show – we were putting our hearts into producing a fun final product that made people happy.
We imagined ourselves in adorable little aprons (okay, we actually bought adorable little aprons), like quirky characters in a girlfriend rom-com about a couple of bakers who leave their monotonous day jobs behind to fulfill their lifelong dream to make sweets. Oh and they’re lovable weirdos.
Except we weren’t characters in a movie and there was no audience falling madly in love with us every time we splashed batter all over the floor. It was just us, alone in the kitchen at 2am, wondering how the hell to frost a fondant cake that had to be delivered the next morning. We were wrapped up in the daydream, the story of it, before we ever considered what it might be like to run to the corner deli at 6am wearing sweatpants covered in egg yolk to buy 15 pounds of flour and two packets of advil PM.
First I quit the boring desk job to pursue baking. Then I quit the stressful bakery job to pursue comedy. My love for jokes and characters won out over my love for girly fonts and cupcakes, and Fanny & Jane is no more.
Ah, the best laid plans, right? The truth is, I’m an impulsive person. I always have been. And there really was no other way for me to find out if this bakery was the right path for me other than to…FIND OUT. I had to find out. And the answer eventually came, loud and clear. I’m glad I listened to my gut and got out of it when I did, or I’d probably be shopping for parchment paper right now, instead of running a comedy theater. Funny how life works.