It was one of those Instagram-binge moments where I started on the "Following tab", saw and clicked on a meme "liked" by joe-schmo, and somehow ended up on Jana Lee's Bake Shop account 10 minutes later. As if being a local, luxury bakery with more than 43K followers didn't scream "legit and delicious" already, the photos of Jana's unique and charming cookies left me wanting to know more.
*Her bake shop specializes in decorated cut-out sugar cookies for any occasion. They're made to order and delivered right to your door.*
The Reference Club: How did you get into the baking industry?
Jana Douglas: I was feeling very uninspired as college graduation approached. I was drawn to cookie decorating as a creative outlet which became a fun hobby and nine months later turned into a business. I definitely resonate more with the creative decorating side of my business rather than the technical baking side.
TRC: I think it's so admirable to hear about people turning their passion into a career. Kudos. What makes Jana Lee's Bake Shop different?
Jana: We are completely online! We do not have a brick and mortar storefront to come choose sugary desserts from a display case. Clients approach me with celebrations, ideas and inspiration via email which I then turn into cookies that show up on your door step!
TRC: When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
Jana: I come from some very strong entrepreneurs in my family so I think I always knew it was for me.
TRC: What was the most challenging part?
Jana: Honestly every week brings a variety of new challenges. Clients are always pushing my abilities, things are always evolving on the business side and who can keep up with the constant social media?!
TRC: Well you're killin' the social media game. Now for a tricky question: wine, cocktails or beer?
Jana: All the above. After a long day in the kitchen a glass of red wine is my go to but I’ll grab a vodka soda with friends and a few beers at the football game.
TRC: Cheers to that. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Jana: Be yourself. I know it seems silly but I find that my brand becomes so natural and cohesive because it truly reflects who I am.
TRC: In three words, describe yourself/your brand.
Jana: (myself) hard worker, creative, passionate
TRC: Now your shortcomings, in 3 words:
Jana: unresponsive (when busy), perfectionist, people pleaser
TRC: What's the most prized item in your bakery?
Jana: Our cookie cutter wall! We have a giant peg board that hangs our entire collections full of hundreds of shapes and designs.
TRC: What's the most challenging part about networking and how do you work around it?
Jana: It is particularly hard to network when you’re not constantly surrounded by co workers and new faces. I have over time slowly reached out on social media to people and businesses who I love and admire and have created my own circle of support.
TRC: Any tips for young professionals?
Jana: It’s okay not to go down the corporate path.