There’s always those few people from your high school that you know no matter what, they’re going places. It might be to work for some Fortune 500 company, or to make a change in DC. Or, it might be starting their own business on nothing but passion and determination. For me, that last one was always one of the the most admirable. Because unlike the security other routes can offer, starting your own business is a venture that can make or break you.
Like I said, every high school has those people. And even when I was still a timid senior, graduating amidst a sea of 300 others, I knew Emily Erickson would be one of those people. Sure enough, 7 years later, backed with years of culinary experience and a dream of her own, she opened Benson’s Bakery in Hudson, NH, alongside co-owner Cory Boutin. Check out our interview with Erickson below, give the cafe a like on Facebook, and stop by Hudson’s newest (and most delicious) spot for a sweet treat.
Infectious Magazine: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you?
Benson’s Bakery & Cafe: Great, Angela! Busy as ever.
Could you tell us a little about your background, and what led you and co-owner Cory Boutin to open Benson’s Bakery and Cafe?
I have had a dream to open a tea house since I was about 15. It has evolved over the years and turned into Benson’s Bakery & Cafe, which is more cafe/coffee house than tea house. I went to culinary school with every intention of knowing how to run all of the behind the scenes cooking/baking necessary to open a small business. Since school I have worked in bakeries locally and finally was able to open my own shop! Cory already owns an existing business in Hudson, Mike’s Pie, and is my business backbone. With our skill sets combined, we decided to take the plunge and open a place together. The hope is that eventually Cory will sell his pizza shop and we will run the Bakery together.
You opened in your hometown of Hudson, NH and the bakery is actually the first of its kind in Hudson, correct? Did you feel it was important to stick to your roots in that sense?
That is correct. We were actually very nervous to open a business like this in Hudson. There is always an element of risk in opening any business. Being the first Hudson bakery, we were unsure if there was a reason there was no bakery other than it simply has not been attempted. We stopped to look at the building to see if they had any kitchen equipment for sale and ended up falling in love with the space. We knew immediately this would be our bakery’s home. It was in that moment that everything clicked and we knew that Hudson needed some flare and some culture. In the same token, we knew we needed community involvement if we would ever succeed. From this thought, Benson’s Bakery was born. We have completely embraced Hudson’s history and culture and are slowly pushing the envelope with fun goodies everyone is sure to enjoy!
Similarly, you’re heavily influenced by the old Benson’s Animal Farm. Do you think that was an important part of not only giving back to the community, but really creating a brand for yourselves?
Playing off of the name Benson’s is responsible for about 50% of our success, or so it seems. Most of Hudson’s residents have fond memories of the animal farm and love to see that we are paying it homage. We love the name and have educated ourselves on the glory days of the park. Being able to relate to our community and give back old memories as well as helping them create new ones in our shop is priceless. Reaching people on this level is what is making our branding successful, so far. Our image and brand is quite simply, our community itself.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs hoping to open their own business one day, whether in a physical location or growing an existing at home business?
Starting a business is extremely demanding. My life has turned upside down, and while I love every minute, with out complete dedication and perseverance I would not succeed. We have been open for one month and I have been here every day from 4:00 am – 7:00 pm. Some days I am here later. I come from a generation of individuals who for the most part have been conditioned to expect instant results. People do not want to work hard anymore. My advice is work hard, don’t give up, and think with your brain not your heart. Location is always important, but if you are not willing to do whatever it takes, and to think the process through, location is irrelevant.
What is one of the most unexpected challenges you’ve run into when taking on this venture, and what advice would you give others on avoiding that?
We have been very fortunate and were pretty much an instant success. My biggest and most unexpected challenge is finding staff and keeping up with demand. We sell out most days and it is difficult to maintain a stock of food. I would like to go back in time and be better prepared with staffing from the beginning. Have people in mind that you can employ to help and ensure you have the backing that is necessary to run a successful business.
Without giving away your secrets, what do you think is essential to a successful business?
-Treat your employees well. Without them you will have nothing.
-There is a difference between being self employed and running a business. When you run a business you must be able to delegate and allow your staff to do their job so that you can do yours.
-Think with your brain and not your heart.
What is the best piece of advice you received when opening this business?
The owner of the building we lease for our business is a long time family friend. When I signed the lease he gave me a hug and said “Em, good luck. Think with your brain and not your heart and you will be fine.” I say this to myself quite often. We have already been faced with decisions that have been difficult, but if you use your brain and not the emotions driving you to act otherwise, it will work out for the best both for the business and yourself.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for the interest in our story! We hope that people can learn something from our success so far!
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