Passion into Profit: Stephanie Crocker•
Posted on September 09 2011
By: Patrick Hanlon
Stephanie Crocker started in 2001 when she and her husband John bought a house that had an old apple tree in the backyard. The following season, the tree was full of apples. They picked bucketfuls of apples and made pies and tarts and sauce, which they gifted to their friends. Suddenly, they were inspired to start a dessert business.
“I was doing web design for a living and I was looking for a new job,” says Stephanie. “What dawned on me as I was looking was that I didn’t want another job—I was looking for a new artistic media. I also wanted to be more of a leader, and be able to make creative decisions on my own.”
Stephanie spent the next year studying baking chemistry and creating recipes. Before the retail shop opened in 2007, it was wholesale, starting with a caramel apple tartlet. Eventually, she developed four flavors of tarts and did some marketing research and pricing strategy to decide who would buy their products. Then the retail exploded.
“I always want to be creating new things,” says Stephanie. “Mostly it’s been the sheer volume of trying new things. It’s only been recently that I have started thinking about creating my own ‘thing’. Right now, it’s about creating what my grandmother might have baked, and I’m steering the bakery in that direction. It’s been great to know that, so that all my decisions can go against that. That feels good!”
Crocker is also inspired by her customers. “I have a guy who gets a hazelnut latte every day,” she says. “I don’t really like hazelnuts, but I wonder what kind of cookie he might like. So then I get some hazelnuts and start playing around with it.”
There are huge portions of talent and inspiration in everything they bake. But one ingredient never leaves the recipe: their passion for making fresh delicious desserts.
Seattle is a city of hills and entrepreneurship, some go up and some go down. It is hard to follow the lurching desires of a fickle public. But as you bite into an oaty blackberry scone, or a brioche gushy with cinnamon, it is hard to imagine anything but a warmer, fruitier, happier place inside someone’s heart and soul.
As marketers we forget that innovation is not always about inventing something new. Sometimes it’s the inspiration to do what’s been done before, but do it so well that people forget everything that has come before it.
A simple thing done well. You need look no further than Sugar to see the truth of that.