There was a time Pam Turkin felt like she’d never get over the loss of her business, Just Baked. But after months of reflection, she’s still baking, and today she’s running a new company she's named Rise Baking.
“Bread rises, and cakes rise, and Pam will rise again too,” she says. “So it always had a little bit of meaning for me, that anybody can come back from anything if they put their mind to it.”
But she’s the first to admit, it’s not always easy.
I first visited Pam in 2014 at her Just Baked bakery in Livonia. She had turned her passion for baking into a multi-million dollar business that included 17 Metro Detroit locations. She was cashing in on the cupcake craze, but this was an expensive business to run.
“We were kind of at a break even, where we needed to either grow or shrink,” she explains.
They decided on the growth path. Investors came on board to help. Plans were underway to open Just Baked mall kiosks around the country, but less than a year later, it would all change. Turkin says the growth was just too fast.
“I woke up one day and it was gone. It was just over,” she explains. “It was devastating.”
Her investors had pulled their financing while she was away for the weekend.
“I left with a big business with 100 employees and I came home to nothing.”
Her story is not unique. Research shows about half of all new companies fail within the first five years.
“A lot of entrepreneurs in this community called me up and told me how great I failed… I think in the entrepreneurial world, it’s okay to fail. It gives you the tough skin to get up and try again. And I think the sign of a true entrepreneur is being able to get up and do it again… to be able to rise,” she says.
And that’s what she’s doing with her company Rise Baking. It’s a monthly baking subscription service, like a Hello Fresh or Blue Apron for bakers.
“We supply you with a new recipe and it comes pre-measured and color coded, with enough for twelve servings,” Turkin says. “So everything’s from scratch, and we make it simple, it’s dummy proof.”
When we visited her Metro Detroit home, she was packing up baking boxes filled with everything needed to make a Springtime Scone recipe. Other recipes have included Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Ganache Frosting, and yes, some cupcake recipes.
She’s sold over 2 thousand boxes so far. She says many of her customers are grandparents buying the baking boxes for their grandkids, or people gifting them to brides.
“We always put a little gift in it, a utensil or a cookie cutter… something they can use in their kitchen. And last month’s box included a message attached to the message. It says “Don’t carry your mistakes around with you… instead place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them.”