David Crabill: Welcome to the Forrager Podcast, where I talk with cottage food entrepreneurs about their strategies for running a food business from home. I’m David Crabill, and today I’m talking with Amanda Schonberg. But real quick, I wanted to check, have you created a website for your business yet? And if you have, do you pay for it?
A lot of entrepreneurs still think they need to spend money to get a good website, and that is simply not true anymore. I am a really big fan of Square Online. That’s what I use for my Fudge Business’ website. And I created a free tutorial that will walk you through how to set up a totally free website in less than one hour.
And in case you think free also means cheap is actually quite the opposite. I think Square Online is hands down the very best website tool for most cottage food businesses, and it’s even better than any of the other paid services out there. So if you wanna learn more, you can check out my free tutorial by going to forrager.com/website.
All right, so I have Amanda Schonberg on the show today. Amanda lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and runs a very successful bakery called Chef Schonberg’s Sweets. But more than that, for many years, she has been teaching hundreds of other cottage food entrepreneurs how to build their bakery. She is the founder of Baking for Business, where she offers free resources and one-on-one coaching.
She is the host of the Baking for Business Podcast, and she runs a premium membership called The Entrepreneur Community. So, as you might expect, this podcast episode is absolutely riddled with incredible advice. We walk through her fascinating business journey and you will discover many of the things that have made her and her students so successful.
And with that, let’s jump right into this episode.
Welcome to the show, Amanda. Nice to have you here.
[00:01:49] Amanda Schonberg: Thanks so much for having me, David. I’m so excited to be here, sweetheart.
[00:01:53] David Crabill: All right, so can you walk me back to the beginning? I guess, not even back to when you started your business, but before that, like how did you get into the food industry?
[00:02:03] Amanda Schonberg: Oh wow. I was in the medical field and a little frustrated with it, and I always used to bake on the side and so I said, you know what? I’m gonna go to, uh, gonna go to culinary school. So I decided to do so. and loved it. I ended up actually not enjoying any particular sector, but I found out that I actually liked food service management the most.
So that was awesome. Kind of like just a career change. And so I did, that graduated from culinary arts school, which was amazing, and right afterwards I went, Managing couple of Fortune 500 companies. I worked with some really great companies, and that was just the start of it uh, straight after culinary school.
[00:02:46] David Crabill: what sort of jobs were you taking out of school?
[00:02:50] Amanda Schonberg: So the first job I had was a supervisor at a nursing home. Gosh, I’ve never even really shared that one, with anyone. And I eventually had to leave. That was just too much. You get to know these old people, you fall in love with them and then they pass. it was an amazing job.
It was just, Depressing. So I left that one alone. After that I went to manage Sam’s Club, which was amazing. So I was the front end manager and I’ve always loved managing ’cause I’ve always had a passion for just helping people, like just the business side. And after Sam’s Club then there was great American Cookie Company, which is odd because I had a job managing the Great American Cookie Company years ago.
And then fast forward last year, they actually hired me for some consulting work. So it was just crazy to see everything come full circle. And those were Sam’s Great American cookie company, the nursing home, those were top three that I had before I decided to then go to Costco, which was a position that I love.
But it was on Costco when I started my own baking business and just doing my own thing.
[00:04:01] David Crabill: So these are pretty big companies, right? That’s a pretty significant experience you have. What was it like working in those environments?
[00:04:10] Amanda Schonberg: I loved it. I loved Great American Cookie Company because I will say that job taught me the most out of everything. It taught me man, like large scale production, just really, really, really the power of sales forecasting and it really taught me to get passionate about sales. Other jobs I had been on, you know, sometimes you would have goals and you would have to lead your team members and check after them.
Great American Cooking Company really, really made it fun to be a manager. And honestly, when I say fun, it is because they always had a lot of bonuses, but it would incentivize me, so it would incentivize me to think outside the box as to how can I push my associates underneath me to, you know, meet their goals, but also be happy with it.
You know, I wanted people happy when they came to work. I read in a magazine years ago that one of the top reasons that people leave jobs is not because of the job, but it’s because of the person. And so I always tried to put myself in their shoes. Being a manager, Sometimes as women, we have issues.
So if they came in, you know, and they wasn’t feeling that well, you know, I would make them tea or I would do things. I never really looked at myself as higher than, I just looked at us all kind of as teammates, but I learned so much about people about sales. But more than anything about pushing people, about how you can fulfill your goals by helping other people meet theirs.
And I think hands down, that was probably the best management job I ever had.
[00:05:41] David Crabill: Yeah, I noticed it looked like a common thread through your story is that you’re very, very service oriented person and like, I guess you didn’t even wanna start a bakery.
[00:05:52] Amanda Schonberg: Not a brick and mortar, no.
[00:05:54] David Crabill: but you initially wanted to start as a personal chef.
[00:05:58] Amanda Schonberg: yeah. When I first, finished culinary school and I decided, you know, I was gonna do something on the side, like the first time I tried to go at it with entrepreneurship, I had been vegan for a long time. And then, so I thought of meal prep by Mandy, Amanda, Mandy, obviously, and looking up the laws, I realized you you can’t, cook from home.
And so I just put that on the back burner because I was always doing it for people. I was much more in shape, around that time when I first finished culinary school. But That was kind of my first passion. But then when I was on a job and someone came in one day and we didn’t have cake and she was just like, you know, I have to have cake.
And I was like, well, I could do this. And that was kind of how it got started. And I never thought it would end up on that path.
[00:06:45] David Crabill: So what would. Inspired you then to start your own business.
[00:06:51] Amanda Schonberg: I loved seeing the joy, I liked the feedback that I got, but at that point in time, I was actually frustrated. All my other jobs I had loved, and anytime I took another job, it was usually for pay or for advancement. I thought I would just climb the corporate ladder until I got to Costco.
That was kind of when I just the management there. It was. Totally different. And so when the young lady came in, she asked for a cake and I kept in contact with her. She referred me to other people and I kind of was already unhappy there. I just thought, you know, I could probably do this and, and push this as a business.
I thought it would be something unique. I started off with pound cakes, pound cakes is always my first love. And I surveyed the market and I knew there weren’t too many things similar, you know, except nothing bundt cakes, we all have one of those. But that was where I initially got the desire.
Okay, I could, really, really do this and I just dove straight.
[00:07:50] David Crabill: It’s kind of unique, right? Because most people who go to culinary school don’t go for food service management. and I assume that the people who go for food service management don’t typically start their own bakery, right? They go working for someone else. So what skills did you take from food service management that you put into your own bakery?
[00:08:10] Amanda Schonberg: Everything, every single thing. If I was on a job and a bigger name retail company did it, I remembered it down to Making sure that my products had names, and I’m big on that with my students. You know, making sure that I share my story. You know, when we go on a job and they train us to manage, we always learn about this job and how they got started and their mission.
So when I started my baking business, I made sure that I had a mission and that people knew how I got started streamlining. I’ve never been the type of person, you know, there’s tons of things I can. But I, don’t do them. I’ve always been about processes, about, you know, what, can I turn over and produce quick?
I’m a numbers type of person. I wanna make sure I hit my sales at the end of the day. And so I went into it being realistic. You know, Other people sometimes they step into it and they say, the money is in wedding cakes, or I have to make tons of wedding cakes to make money. And from someone who did like anywhere between $5,000 to $7,000 a day in sales at Great American Cookie Company, I was like, no, that’s totally false.
I’ve seen people wrapped around miles around, you know, waiting for a cookie. So in my mind, when I looked at other retailers and what they offered, they always find ways to get big turnarounds with the small things. And I think sometimes in our industry as bakers sometimes we struggle with that. I meet so many bakers who are opposite. And so every single thing I got from that job, I applied it to my own home bakery, even so much. So, as, you know, setting up my website to where it resembled a planogram, where certain things go in certain positions. So I did that to my website and I didn’t know then that that was, you know, really pushing Google to push people my way more so once I got into the marketing aspect of it. So every single thing I learned on one of those jobs I poured into my business and I think that’s what made it so successful from the beginning.
[00:10:14] David Crabill: Do you feel like those jobs, do you feel like just the level of sales they were dealing with, do you think that just gave you a different mindset when you started the business? Like its just set a different level of expectation for you?
[00:10:28] Amanda Schonberg: Yeah, because I was used to, fulfilling other people’s sales goals and fulfilling their dreams for them. So I knew all I had to do was push and having the background that I have and being so much, I love history, you know, learning about people like the lady who started Pepper’s Farm, She had a six figure company from her basement. This was back in like the fifties before we know of what Pepper’s Farm is today. So in knowing those stories and studying history, I always knew that great people started small, and so I just always made sure to just carry that with me and it poured into everything I did.
[00:11:05] David Crabill: So it’s one thing to, you know, be working at these big companies and think, oh, I could do this too. Look how many sales they’re getting. And it’s another thing to actually start your own business, right? Like how did the sales actually project once you got off the ground?
[00:11:19] Amanda Schonberg: I remember when I first started, wow, I think that first year sales were, it, it definitely wasn’t enough for me to leave my job the first year, but I didn’t struggle. I remember about. the end of the first year, I was like, oh man, I might actually go over, you know, like my cottage state limit, like, what does that look like?
But sales came in. I always had systems. I was never really, you know, afraid to open up my mouth. I set daily sales goals for me. So over the course of the time, it just grew. Like the second year it went up 30%, and then after that it just kept going up and up. And I never really struggled. I never really went backwards.
You know, we all have times where business goes up and down, but I enjoyed it in the beginning, like while I was still on the job, it was wonderful to just supplement my income before I decided to do it full time.
[00:12:17] David Crabill: You make it sound so easy, like you started this business and the sales rolled in. Was there any, uh, difficulty in getting your name out there?
[00:12:27] Amanda Schonberg: For me, no. and I, I don’t mean to make it sound easy. I think, like you said, it’s only because of my background. the minute I knew I had a business, it was my goal to tell any and everybody. I was always working on making other people work for me.
I was never afraid of the camera. I was never afraid to go live. I knew the power of community in doing stuff. Like I said, with Great American Cookie Company, we would work with so many different community organizations. Costco. Costco would always have other organizations come that they would donate to.
So I immediately, I always had my name out there. I was at every popup I was at every event. I would follow our local news people, I would make connections with them. And so I was getting myself pressed. One of the first times I was on the news, I believe I had only had my baking business going on four months.
And now fast forward, it’s been six years and I’ve been published either news in or print a total of over 62 times. I knew I had to hustle, and I’ve never been one that’s been afraid to hustle. I always have a saying that “closed mouths don’t get fed.” We’re in a day and age now where people only want to post and that’s it, it’s like, okay, I made a post on social media.
That’s their only one form of advertising, then it will move slow. I was opposite. If there was a magazine, if there was a function, if there was an event, if there was a person, anyone in my community that had authority, I was always telling them about my business. I call it serving before selling, so I never mind serving my community to put my name out there because I believed in my product, and so it just kind of just took off and spread like wildfire.
[00:14:09] David Crabill: So I know that you’re really big on giving first, But what does that actually look like? how much does somebody give before it becomes a burden to their business?
[00:14:19] Amanda Schonberg: Me personally, I don’t think giving will ever become a burden, or it shouldn’t. I think sometimes when people get into business, well, I don’t wanna say, I think, I definitely know they don’t get into business with the mindset of having money reserved so that they can. Their message and, amplify their business.
So if someone was brand new, then I would say, you know, just once a week, especially if you’re still on a job, because if you’re still on a job at this point in time, baking is probably your hobby. So, you know, you have to build brand awareness. Obviously. I don’t want you to like give thousands and thousands of dollars, you know, and go into debt.
But you can always start with something like cake bites or, you know, cake squares or, cupcakes or mini cupcakes. But yeah, I definitely think, given it’s something more that we should all do.
[00:15:12] David Crabill: Okay, so you didn’t have necessarily a struggle. And people on board, but you definitely put in the work, that’s for sure. How did you do that while you were still working a full-time job at the time?
[00:15:24] Amanda Schonberg: Yeah, so eventually I left Costco. I realized I had to have a set schedule and that that would help me tremendously. So I decided before just, you know, walking away, I said, I’m still gonna need to work. You know, it’s just sales, it’s not profit, and I have a You know, at the time because of my background, I was making great money.
So I went back into the medical. and I got a job as a medical billing coder, which was what I went for. So I was always in the office, always in the back, and then I slowly started building my business around that, but I also built my business within that. So the doctors in the hospital, the social workers, those were the type of people and the connections.
And that was just when I really just started just building. I would be delivering cakes on my lunch break, . I would have customers actually come pick up from the hospital, you know, which is a no no, we should honor and respect our employees. But uh, yeah, that, that was my first step was to just find, a steady schedule to allow me to build uh, Chef Schonberg’s Sweets the way I wanted to build it.
[00:16:31] David Crabill: Okay, so you actually changed jobs. You took a different job that you didn’t really wanna pursue, but that was just a means to an end.
[00:16:38] Amanda Schonberg: Correct.
[00:16:39] David Crabill: So I guess that freed up the time in your schedule to work on it Now, when did you actually leave that job, or how did you know you were ready to go all in into this baking business?
[00:16:51] Amanda Schonberg: I was getting frustrated on it. I noticed that, it wasn’t the job. I love my patients. Everyone was extremely kind. People who I had to work with just some of the doctors. So I knew once my patients started running thin, I just woke up one day and I said, you know, I can do this. I, I have enough hustle, I have enough push, I have enough connections.
And so I did. I just left. And I think sometimes when we’re on jobs, we always say, you know, I wanna do this full time. I wanna do this full time. And it is great and you definitely wanna have a plan, but I had no plan. But I think having no plan lit a fire under me. because I knew I had to push.
Like if I don’t get out there and make sales, you know, no one’s gonna make it for me. And then so all of my efforts, I just doubled down on them rather than dropping off samples and going to events at night. I was doing it in the daytime, except this time it was corporations. And then that was when my business slowly started to turn and I started to get corporate orders, Celebrity orders, just different things like that. I worked extra hard because there was no parachute, there was no safety net, you know, it was just me.
[00:18:03] David Crabill: Looking back on it, knowing the success that you’ve had, do you feel like you should have left your job?
[00:18:08] Amanda Schonberg: No, I feel I should have left my job the right way probably by putting in a notice, and maybe I would’ve waited just maybe another year, but it would not have been that long.
[00:18:18] David Crabill: So in your business uh, what were you actually selling? I know you said you sold pound cakes. What was kind of your focus?
[00:18:25] Amanda Schonberg: So I started off, my focus was mainly uh, sweets design with adults in mind. So that’s my tagline. I started off with alcohol infused pound cakes. So rum cakes. Uh, Disaronno was one of my first, and that was a favorite. That was what I started off with. Pound cakes and just what I call pound favors, which was just the mini bundt cakes.
Eventually my clients started asking for cupcakes because a different clientele, you know, pound cakes are a little bit more dense, so something that’s just a little. Lighter. And then after that I switched to cupcakes. I always tried to make the theme something more adult wise, and even if it wasn’t infused then the name that I gave it, like, you know, eventually I started cookies and I called my cookies.
Well, they’re still called ménage à trois so I was always kind of aiming my stuff towards adults. I wanted the socialites, the party people, never children’s cakes or anything like that. I was always just aimed towards adults.
[00:19:29] David Crabill: Did you do that because you were like focused on the money? Like you knew that there was more profit there. where did the desire to do like adult products come from?
[00:19:39] Amanda Schonberg: So my mom, the first cake that she ever taught me to make was a pound cake with Disaronno. She loved Disaronno. She used to put it on her ham with cherries and pineapples. And so, like I said, since it was something that I was familiar with, the pound cake, it was what I started.
But once I sat down I grabbed the notebook because I’m very much a writer, and I said, okay, if we’re gonna do this, you know this is gonna be the name and this is gonna be, and I told myself I had one goal back then, I only had one goal. And my goal was I wanted to be like Paula Deen . I was like, you know, I love Paula Deen.
I said, I wanna be, a chef. I wanna be popular, I wanna be a personality and I just wanna do this one signature thing. You know, from food service management. I knew that I had to have a differentiating factor and I just knew that. Anything that I could do to set myself apart, to be different, to be unique, that was what I wanted to do.
So that was what really helped me grounded in the pound cakes. And then when I did do cupcakes, anytime I learned a new skill, which it was generally, you know, pound cakes, cupcakes, cookies, be those, those were my three. Faith, always made sure that it stayed underneath the sweets umbrella. But I found, how can I do this sexy?
You know? And if it wasn’t with the recipe, then maybe it was the packaging. You know, if I put roses on the cupcakes to make them a little bit more elegant and cater towards women, or if I put edible gold on the cookies, I always just tried to keep my differentiating factor, but stay true to.
[00:21:06] David Crabill: Yeah, I did see that. These items were inspired by your mom, and I’m sure she still inspires your business, but that you lost her in house fire, right.
[00:21:17] Amanda Schonberg: Correct. When I was in culinary school my mom was my buddy. She was, my best bud, my best friend. And she was getting to the point to where she was feeling a little forgetful and she stayed all the way on the other side of town. So I said, look, I can’t be riding back and forth and still in school.
I’m gonna have to move you next door to me, you know, to just kind of keep an eye on you. And so I did that. I, I moved her next door while I was in culinary school, and I woke up one day and I heard a loud noise. I thought it was like a dumpster had wrecked or something. It was just loud. And I opened the door and just right in front of me, the windows, everything was on fire.
And so I lost my mom, my apartment, everything. I owned it spread. The fire started from her apartment and it spread to eight other units. And that was that. She was gone. It was gone. And so it took me a while to uh, come back from that. That was probably the most depressed I’ve ever been in my life.
And I’m definitely not a depressing person. I’m always very upbeat and goofy, but it lit a fire under me. I knew I had to finish and I knew that she would be watching over me. So I said, if I’m gonna do this thing, everything I do, I’m gonna make sure I overdo it. And so,
[00:22:30] David Crabill: Well, you certainly have, I mean, you’ve grown substantially. I know that, you know, in that first few years you got lots of press mentions. I know you worked to get yourself out there, but like, how did you get celebrity orders, connections with brands like, how did you actually go that.
[00:22:49] Amanda Schonberg: I have this saying, we would never have been given a gift if we couldn’t profit and prosper from it. And so in me having this mindset of, you know, I’m gonna be the next Paula Deen. Wanna be this beautiful voluptuous woman. I was passing by a billboard one day and I saw that Gina Neely.
This was years ago. Uh, Gina Neely, who’s a food network personality uh, now news personality. I saw that she was going to be in town, and I told my boyfriend well now husband, then boyfriend. I said, you know what, I’m gonna bake a cake for her. And he said, how is that gonna happen? And I said, I don’t know, but I said, she’s gonna be in town and I’m gonna bake a cake for her.
Like, imagine, you know, what that would do for my business. And I had no idea how I was gonna do it. And so I reached out to some of the people who I knew and I was trying to find a event person and a person that was over the event, and I couldn’t. And I said, you know what? Well, I’ll write a letter. And so I wrote a letter and I sent the letter out to everyone, any contact that I had for her.
And I thought maybe her manager, maybe her assistant, maybe someone will run across this letter. But it turns out that it was actually her. And she wrote me back and she was honored. She was amazed. And not only did she pay me, she paid me and she tipped me. And I just, At that time, I was like, wow.
Because every single day I was writing someone different. I was just trying to find a way in, but I kept speaking over myself and I just kept telling myself. I was like, it’s okay. You’re gonna, bake for some of the biggest celebrities in the world. You’re gonna bake for some of the biggest brands in the world.
I would always speak over myself. I would tell myself self stuff even before it came to pass. Like not even ever really knowing how it happened. And so she wrote back and I delivered it to her. And I waited and she was kind. And after that it was crazy because she wrote me back. She said, you know, I’ve been on tv.
you know who I am. I’ve had three shows. And she said, I have to tell you, this is a really great cake. And I was like, oh wow, , thank you. And she was like, if I’m in town again, you know, I’ll let you know. And after that I was just like, Wow. Like, that’s crazy. And the crazy part about it is ever since then, I’ve kept a relationship with her.
She is a wonderful mentor and she actually last year came into my membership that I have for Bakers, and she did a class for me. And that is still, to me, it’s just, unbelievable. I always had a belief that I can go after anything I want. I guess I never looked at myself as, oh, you’re just a cottage baker.
And I think so many people in our industry do that. They think, well, I’m just going to do this until I get the storefront. I never had a desire for a storefront, but I also never thought less of myself because I didn’t have one. If an opportunity presented itself, I just go after it.
[00:25:37] David Crabill: And you don’t know where that desire came from. I mean, most people wouldn’t take the initiative to even try finding 50 different avenues to make a cake for a celebrity.
[00:25:48] Amanda Schonberg: All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. So that’s just something that I always tell myself. If the drive came from somewhere, it came from my faith. So I, we all bleed the same. I don’t see anyone, you know, with a storefront bakery or a trailer any different than me. So I just always say, you know, when God’s in it, there’s no limit or the universe, whoever’s listening, whatever you believe, your belief system.
But if you believe in it enough to empower yourself, then you can do all things. And I guess it just came from within.
[00:26:20] David Crabill: So considering that, you know, you going really big with trying to get the biggest brands, get the biggest celebrities, but you also like focused on the small things, right? You weren’t going for the big wedding cakes, it seems inconsistent, Like why? Why were you so driven to just do like the small things?
[00:26:42] Amanda Schonberg: Well, number one, because it part of me in being like, Paula Deen that was all I ever saw her do. Like, so when I watched Food Network, I would see her, do you know, these pound cakes and these bundt cakes? And as a chubby girl myself, that’s the stuff I love. You know, like after I eat dinner, I want a cookie, I want a cookie, or I want a slice of cake, or you know, for the holidays, it’s what I eat and it’s what I love.
But then also from my background, you know, like I remember one time at Costco, we literally had to scoop like 100 cookies in three minutes. And I thought, what, you know, it’s, it’s just crazy the amount that you have to spit out and produce. but I was always taught in those areas, the quicker you can turn something around and sell it, you know, the more time you have to then either make something else or do something else. I don’t like wedding cakes. I don’t like fondant. You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s homemade, if it’s marshmallow, you know, no one rolls out of bed saying, Ooh, I’m craving some bundt cake. I’ve always ate the little things. I’ve always worked with the little things, so I’ve just always been a little things person, I guess.
So I just try to do the little things on a big.
[00:27:53] David Crabill: considering that you’re doing like a lots of orders, like what are you actually doing to streamline those processes and what kind of systems are you setting up to make things easier for.
[00:28:04] Amanda Schonberg: Batch baking helps dual products to me help details, help, you know, having things that I can add quickly, like gold, that’s something that I could just, add quickly. that doesn’t take a lot of time. And then mainly, I guess, batch baking, like just, you know, having a menu. When I look at a menu, you know, when I first. And I used to experiment with cupcakes, like, be it coconut, champagne, this or that. Then eventually I was like, okay, I need space, and people call me every day, and especially with corporate orders, there’s times where I only get four hour leadway. So I might get a call that day and have to have a order done four hours later.
So then I started looking at my bases. How can I change those? So then it became same base, just different buttercream. Then I started looking at designs. What preset designs can I have? Then that’s when kind of like the spatula design came into place. So every time things got tighter, I scaled a little, changed the menu, and just came up with the way you know, me to put it out a little quicker and to also make sure that it was something, because it was quick and easy, something that I can show my husband, you know, that he can be able to help me with.
So batch baking. Hands down is number one. I’m big just so I’m making stuff in advance and having it ready to go.
[00:29:16] David Crabill: So you got your husband to help out sometimes. Like how long Was it just you and maybe him before you actually hired somebody to help?
[00:29:26] Amanda Schonberg: Ooh. For a while, for the first couple of years I loved it because I, I, I move fast, so, you know, I try not to waste time.
[00:29:35] David Crabill: So you built up this very successful bakery, obviously, and then I know you went on to start teaching. What are some of the things that you tell New Bakers? Like how, how do they get themselves out there and get themselves started?
[00:29:50] Amanda Schonberg: Put yourself out there. Have a plan. Go big. That’s what I always tell my students. Aim high.
I really believe in field marketing. Making sure that you’re not just utilizing social media marketing, but that you really have a, a plan to grow within your community. I believe that we all have the power to be amazing business owners in the community that we serve, but we have to allow people to get to know us and get to know our business and not be afraid to be seen small. I think sometimes that’s why some people don’t put themselves out there. So even when you’re in the beginning stages, you know, let people know who you are.
But more than anything, let people know how you can help them. I tell people all the time, our products are the solution to someone else’s problem. We just have to find those people so that they know that the problem is solved.
[00:30:45] David Crabill: So it’s interesting that you don’t really have people focus as much on social media. Do you like instead recommend that they build a website or like, do you think that’s necessary? I know you, you said you got into Google’s good graces early on, right?
[00:31:03] Amanda Schonberg: Yeah, I love Google. I love organic reach. I love for my students to be able to be found organically. And I like other sales sites, you know, sites such as Thumbtack. Also uh, Yelp. I’ve had a community manager come in and do a class with my students, a community manager from Yelp on how they can stand out on the platform.
So social media is great because, you know, it is social, but typically people don’t go to social media to buy. They buy over time once they know and they learn about a brand. You know, social media is more like lead generation, you know, it’s something to help us get leads. I like my students to be on platforms that help them to sell, and I like them to do things to ensure that sales are coming in.
So, yeah, I definitely believe in website, especially if you’re a cottage baker, because a website is like your digital storefront and people need a way to find out about you, your products and services and who you are. And social media is wonderful too. Love for people to have a social strategy. I just know that it’s not the sale. Say all be all. And when so many people are doing it, you have to find another way to stand out. And because I know that giving is the harder road, like putting on your socks and shoes, getting dressed, going to that dental office and saying, hi, hello, my name is Amanda. I’m in the neighborhood and this is what I do.
Because I know not that many people do it. That’s why I have my students do it. Because the best way for you to be extraordinary is for literally for you to be extra with the ordinary things you do.
[00:32:39] David Crabill: So I also noticed that you are really big into email marketing, right?
[00:32:46] Amanda Schonberg: I love email marketing . You are able to do amazing things when you have a list. It’s like a personal conversation. And I think in a world where people are so social and things do go so quickly, you know, they’re like little love letters that you can write your customer. I’ve built. List in my home baking business from day one.
It was one of the early things and also, when we talk about business ownership, you know, we don’t own any of these social platforms, but your list is something that you do own When I started, it was Periscope, and then I had a huge Periscope following, but I had to start all over again. What happens when Instagram goes and, you know, sometimes we say, oh, well that won’t happen, or, you know, it won’t, look at it now.
Back in the day, it used to be, My space and then it was the vine, and they’re both gone. And even now people feel like Facebook is only four dinosaurs. And now we always feel behind. So email is one thing that won’t go out of date.
And you’re able to openly have relationships directly to your consumer without worrying about an algorithm.
[00:33:49] David Crabill: So, you know, it’s pretty easy to like say, oh, go follow me on Instagram, or Go follow me on Facebook. But how do you actually, actually get people. To give you their email address.
[00:33:59] Amanda Schonberg: tons of different ways. you know, there’s multiple different ways that you can collect email addresses on your website. And then One of the best ways that I recommend is you can always collect email addresses when you’re doing popups.
And I tell people all the time, I have a script because I already know what a person is thinking. as far as sales people, which we are, we have to overcome that person’s thought. So they’re thinking, oh, I don’t want you to email me.
I’m on enough email lists. You know, I don’t eat random crap. So out the gate, Hey, you know what, I have a deal for you. I would love to stay in contact. However, I don’t wanna bombard you. I’m pretty sure you get tons of emails. But as a locally owned business, one of the places that we keep our. Clients in the know with deals and promotions is by shooting them a quick email.
So is it okay for you to be added to our list?
And I find sometimes it’s not what you said, but how you said, and when you say it genuinely,
and that’s another thing is be genuine with your list. You know, you wanna serve with your list as well.
So there are so many opportunities. If you know something is going on in your community, share it.
You just write from the heart. Share how your products can help someone. You show up and you serve.
And so when you do stuff like that, I find people find you more sincere and they’ll give you their email. Even on my website, even when I’m trying to get to know Bakers, I tell them, I say, look, I won’t BS you.
I don’t have time to BS you. If I’m emailing you, it’s either a tip, trick, blessing lesson, something to help you in your baking business. But if not, I’m not showing up to email you. And so I think. That authenticity wrapped with being intentional is what will really allow you to get people on your list.
And I’ve had students with the email list of only 12 people that generated an extra $400 in sales So I’m all for email lists. You should own the contacts that you create in your.
[00:35:50] David Crabill: do you give people an incentive to get on the email list? Like is there something like extra that they get for being on the email list, or is it just, you know, so that they can hear updates from you?
[00:36:02] Amanda Schonberg: Me personally, I give out, I post like new tips every week, and so that’s generally the incentive to get on my list. I do have a, guide, which is awesome. It goes over like 30 plus apps and services to help home bakers elevate their baking business, and so that’s one of the things that I give to get people on my list. if they’re a baker, I recommend you can give a percentage off. You just wanna always make sure you know that you know your pricing, that you’re not cutting in too much. Sometimes it can also be things such as maybe just give a little item, you know, like let’s say you’re a cookie, or maybe they just get one free cookie.
or maybe they get a upgrade. Maybe it’s a bow, you know, a certain different way that you wrap your packaging. So maybe it’s a upgrade to your deluxe packaging Or maybe it’s half off delivery, you know? So that way you still get paid for the item.
But yeah, I do think then incentives are always something to excite people And then
also If you’re having a popup, you can give a person a word, and then when they show up to your word, that’s how you know that person’s on your list, and then you can give them a discount. So I give people different words, like, let’s say I’m gonna be at a popup tomorrow night, and I might send out an email and I’ll tell them, you know, Use the word hugs and kisses.
If you’re coming out to this pop up and you get like 10% off your order. And so I’ll do that and it’s amazing because people will, they’ll come up to the table and they’ll say, Hey, I got the cold words. So, you know, it’s almost like you gamify, you make it a game. But then on top of that, I literally take a moment to stop and then I’ll actually give them a hug and a kiss and I’ll tell them right on the spot.
I’ll say, thank you so much. It really means the world to me that you’re on my email list and I switch up the code word and it just makes it fun. But I think that’s one way for you to just do something fun, kind of keep people on their toes and it’s free, and you genuinely take a moment to stop and put a face to the person that is actually opening your.
[00:38:10] David Crabill: Was there a moment when you’re building the business when you felt like, wow, I’ve really made it like I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve?
[00:38:21] Amanda Schonberg: Not really, because I feel like I was always outdoing myself, you know, trying to, one up myself, I guess. Or just do more, be more places. I would always set little goals for myself, so I don’t necessarily ever think I made it. I’m grateful for of the blessings I’ve had in my business in the past, but I still feel like I have a lot of work to do.
[00:38:43] David Crabill: What are some of the success stories from your students that stand out in your mind?
[00:38:48] Amanda Schonberg: uh, We have this thing in our group, which is one K a day, and it’s kind of a challenge that comes from, I love for my students to do popups. I’m a firm believer in popups, but to do popups with a plan. So we have popups kind of like with the little extra strategy, and there’s kind of a sales goal of a thousand dollars a day in sales. And so to see people come into my group who were like, I, I listened to you on the podcast, or I read about you on social media, and I never thought this was possible to see so many moms finally do a $1,000 sales day. Those are some amazing stories. I have a student named Tara. She started with me five years ago and she wrote me on social media.
She posted and shared in our group, you know, when she first found me, she was only making a couple of hundred dollars that year. Fast forward, she left her job of over 12 years, opened a storefront bakery, and she’s still with me to this day, and now generates over six figures. Those are some amazing stories.
I have a student named Demi Demi’s, kind of the opposite. Demi reminds me of me a lot. She has a corporate job that she loves. She’s a supervisor in one of the top medical hospitals around, and she does this on the side, and she wrote me one time and she said, this is crazy. I’ve made with the bacon business. About the same as my salary on the job. She’s like, but I’m not gonna leave a job. But I was just sharing. Those are the type of stories that I like. But more than anything, almost every week, one of my students is, I did it. I had my first thousand dollars. A day as a home baker, like I never thought I’d get a thousand dollars a day in sales.
Like those are the stories that I really, really enjoy and they come from so many different women. One of my students, Monique, she is a blessing. she’s awesome. She started with me when she was on her job. She just recently left her job last year and got a food truck. And since then she has almost three times her income.
So I have so many amazing, amazing stories from students and I just, I love it because I love for them to just be better than me, for them to do more than me, but also I like for them to see their dreams fulfilled.
[00:41:08] David Crabill: $1,000 a day at a pop-up is very high. Right. Most people, I’d say, are probably sitting in the uh, $300 range. So how do you get there with people? Like what do you recommend for people to hit a thousand dollars?
[00:41:23] Amanda Schonberg: I recommend for them to believe in themselves. Don’t give up and push, push, push, push, push to me stands for p u s h. Promote until something happens. And I think sometimes that’s what we don’t do in our industry. We might make one post and then we give up, and then we’re like, oh, no one bought it.
you know, promotions is a process. Marketing in itself is all the activities that we have to do to show up and to really push our products and services So I recommend set a sales goal, work backwards, know what it is that you wanna do, you know, and be comfortable with sales.
Sometimes we’re not. I meet so many people because they are bakers. They’re like, oh, I’m an introvert, or, I’m this or I’m that. You know, once you decide to be. A business owner, you have to teach yourself all forms of business, even the ones that you’re not comfortable with. And sometimes sales is one of those things we think, you know, I don’t wanna sound sleazy or I don’t wanna sound like I’m asking, or I know a lot of women that I work with, they bring their taboos and their stigmas about money, about finance, as you know, well in my home, things are tight, or this is what we’re going through right now.
And I tell my students all the time what you’re going through personally with money, how you grew up with money, your relationship with money that is not your customer’s problem. You know, some of your customers are rich, they’re amazing. Like they, they don’t have the problems that you’re going through.
and it’s not to say, you know, it’s not to brag or it’s not. Boast, but it’s to say you can’t tell people how to spend their money. So in doing so, you have to be comfortable with sales. You have to be comfortable accepting money from people. And once you realize that money is in abundance, it’s all around us.
I teach my students to kind of have more of a, growth mindset and not necessarily a fixed. Then you’ll go out there, you’ll set bigger goals, and then you’ll achieve them.
[00:43:12] David Crabill: Did you personally come from a family where money was in abundance?
[00:43:16] Amanda Schonberg: No, I came pretty, average. You know, we never really, I mean, not super rich or anything like that. My mom worked for the, telephone company, which she loved. It was called Bell South. She retired. I never wanted for anything, you know, I grew up. Love. Definitely not in a, a mansion. Um, When I lost my mom, there was definitely a struggle there.
You know, Money mindset kind of changed one side approached entrepreneurship, so that’s kind of when I just started seeing the sky as the limit there. But, you know, just a average home
[00:43:54] David Crabill: How did you learn these business mindset, whatever concepts, like, did you take courses? Like who did you learn from?
[00:44:02] Amanda Schonberg: I read books while I rode the bus. Because when I was in culinary school and I lost my mom at the time, it took me three buses to get to culinary school and three buses to come home. And the library will let you rent up to 70 books at a time. And so I said, well, if I have to be on the bus, then I might as well do something.
and I still love to read to this day. I try to read two books a month. I usually spend an hour reading just about every day. But there are so many great people out there. So Napoleon Hill think and Grow Rich, the Alchemist, the the Psychology of Sales the 40 Hour work Week. Just starting from Amazon top sellers on down. If it’s a book about business or marketing, I try to pour my mind into it because I think books are one of the best ways that we can learn. We can learn from millionaires and billionaires for only about 15 to 20 bucks. That’s not bad. So I’m, I’m a huge book person.
And then if you go to the library, it’s even better because it’s free. And that was probably one of my top achievements in, in 2021, our local library nominated me as entrepreneur and I was like, gosh, I’m in this place so much . So yeah, that, that was pretty cool. But it’s all in a book. We just have to pick it.
[00:45:22] David Crabill: So you obviously took all this knowledge, you created an amazing business out of it, and then when did you feel like, okay, it’s time for me to start sharing this knowledge with others?
[00:45:34] Amanda Schonberg: I was on Periscope, the app, and I would go on there and I was like, oh, this is a pretty cool app. And I would see people sharing, and I took a young lady’s class and I would always log on and if I saw someone doing something and I was in a periscope room, I’d say, you know, Hey, try this. Or hey, try that.
You know, just from my culinary background. Or if I would hear people talking, my day wasn’t going so good, or about their product, I would give tips. And then one of the young ladies who teach, she encouraged me. She’s like, you know, you’re always, you know, back then, You would kind of learn people and, and follow people from Periscope, from all the conversations.
It was a little bit more intimate, I think, than Instagram. And she was like, you know, you’re always giving tips. You should go live. And I thought, go live and, and do what? And , it was kinda odd at the time, but I did go live and she was the only person that was on my live that was the very first time. Her name is Sabrina, she’s in Maryland.
She owns Papa Street by Sabrina. She makes cake pops. And after that I just started going live more and I said, well, if I could pour in and help someone else, then why not? At the time, there was another young lady who used to go live as well. And then over the course of time we got to know each other. Garnered the following both individually and then we would kind of go live at the same time. . So we had what was called scope spec, you know, we wanted to show each other respect on the scope. And, um, her and I just formed an association and I was like, okay, well we should probably do this as a business. You know, people listen to us both.
They both enjoyed learning tips from us and we decided to do so, and the business was a membership model, and that was what we started. And that was an amazing time. And that was just when I said, all right, well, because people were asking questions. You know, people would always DM and. Honestly, I didn’t have the time to even answer everyone’s dm.
And so I thought, okay, well I’ll just start sharing things. And people wanted more, well, how would you do this? Well, how are you planning for this? Well, what does your sales look like? Or, well, this happened. What should I do? Or a client did this, or, how can I prevent this? And so the membership was amazing because that person loved business and had a passion for business as well.
And that model just allowed people to kind of learn as they go. And then I was able to still operate my business and then show up and help others. At the same time.
[00:47:58] David Crabill: What do you feel like you learned from that partnership and that first uh, membership?
[00:48:03] Amanda Schonberg: I learned probably to believe in myself a little bit more. At that time, I didn’t necessarily like tech, that person. Kind of handled the tech and stuff, but I definitely learned to believe in myself more. I learned that people did value my voice, what I had to say, what I brought to the table, and that I, I did have the power to help people with, every test and trial and tribulation, that I can take all of my tests and use it as a testimony to help others.
So I knew that in meeting all these people, that there was a need, people would love their craft. They would love the macaroons, the cookies, the pies, the the cupcakes. They loved their thing. They just didn’t love the business aspect of it. And so I knew that marketing was my mission to help people market their passions to others.
So that, They can be a leading authority in their community. And I believe that every man and woman that does have a cottage baking business has the right to do so.
[00:49:02] David Crabill: Well, it seems pretty, obviously you’re pretty outgoing person. Right? But how were you as like a speaker? Like when you started going live on Periscope, were you already a pretty good public speaker at that point?
[00:49:15] Amanda Schonberg: I think I’m a better public, public speaker now. I’ve always been the same. Like I will say, you know, it’s, amazing. I’ve been on your show this long and haven’t cursed, so I’m, I’m much more. Aware now, but as far as speaking, I’ve always talked, I’ve always been that child. My mom used to say, she used to always know when I was sick if I was quiet.
Like, she’d be like, what’s wrong with you? And I’d be like, nothing. And she’d say, you’re lying because you’re quiet. You haven’t talked all day. So I’ve always been a talker, like I’m always a, a chatty Cathy, but I never necessarily, I never knew, even back then, the opportunities that even I would have for speaking.
I definitely never knew back then that I would even get hired by Facebook to speak. I never considered myself a public speaker. I’ve always been kinda like a, Gary V meets Paula Deen. You know, I’m, I’m real, I’m passionate, I’m very loving and, and tough. And then you’ll probably hear the word y’all and awesome sauce a thousand times a day, because I’m also very southern.
So that’s kind of how I would wrap up my speaking skills.
[00:50:23] David Crabill: It seems like you’re really good at language, like the verbiage you use, there’s a lot of like little quotes, I guess, like, it seems like you invest a lot into language or does that just come naturally and how important do you think the language can affect a business?
[00:50:41] Amanda Schonberg: I think your language can affect a business a lot because the words that you speak, I really do believe that words have power. I remember sayings here and there, you know, every time I learned something I kind of remember it because the things I learned over. The course of time, they kind of become like my food, like things that I digest.
They’re kind of like fuel positive words, positivity, affirmations, manifestations. Those are like things that I have to eat. And by eating, I mean, I literally have to speak them. I have to say it out loud, write it out loud, rather I have to speak it over others because I never take for granted that I do have a voice.
You know? And I’ve been blessed to speak for some amazing organizations, and people do listen. And so because of that, when I show up, I like to show up and make sure that when someone is done hearing me speak, that they don’t, feel the same, that I hope that I can make them feel empowered as well.
[00:51:41] David Crabill: So can you share a little bit about your newest business, I guess right? Baking for business? Can you share a little bit about how that got started?
[00:51:49] Amanda Schonberg: Yeah, so when I ended the partnership, I knew that I still wanted to teach, and I knew that I wanted to teach bakers who wanted to bake for business. And then of course, with no one SEO , I literally wanted to make sure that if you were Googling baking and you were Googling business, that I would pop up.
And so I started a website and I just started uploading tips there. And then I decided that all the things that I didn’t get to do in the partnership that I wanted to, that I would approach this differently. And I did, and it started January. 2021 and it just kind of, it took off like I’ve never dreamed before, which has really, really been amazing.
[00:52:34] David Crabill: So you ended the partnership. And did you just have to completely start from scratch when you started this new thing?
[00:52:42] Amanda Schonberg: Correct. I did. I let the person have the business, the name, everything. My trainings and classes that I taught with that person, they were removed, but I didn’t have access to them either. And I was fine with that because I wanted to start a new, so it was kind of like a fresh start. So I got a website guy who I still work with to this day who still works with my students, and I sat down with one of my mentors personally and At first, I decided I would do some courses. I said, well just keep, you know, just keep doing me doing what I do. I still have my corporate clients that I bake for. And then I decided, you know, I do love the membership model because I’ve taken classes in the past where it’s been, you know, you paid $2,000 for a class at six or eight weeks, and then the class is over and you still need help
Like you need help, you know, a month down the road, three months down the road. And so I said, I don’t, I don’t want that. I want it to always feel like an open door. Like I literally want to be in someone’s back pocket. Like I want them to feel like at any time of day they can ask me a question. I want something personal.
And so for me, the membership model was that. And I just said, you know what? I’m just gonna do it all over again. and I can’t worry about thoughts or feelings and just because I ended this partnership with this person, That doesn’t mean that there’s not enough rumor space for two of us, 10 of us 20 of us.
But I have to do what makes me happy because this time it’s all on me. And so I did, I created a membership and it was amazing to say the least, and I’m still amazed by it every single day and opportunities just started coming in and I made that my main focus and during the first year was awesome.
And I can’t say enough about it. It’s, it’s just really blessed me a lot.
[00:54:30] David Crabill: How is the membership structured? Is it just a flat rate every month? Like how do people get in and get access and what do they get? Access.
[00:54:38] Amanda Schonberg: Correct. So it’s one flat rate. the membership is called the Entrepreneur Community. The entrepreneur community is $25 a month. I wanted a membership to be kind of like everything that I’ve had over the past years, and so it’s not just about me. So I am the founder, but I do work with other people and corporations, the membership consists of master classes from myself as well as guest speakers. Another thing, one of the biggest features that people love is it consists of done for you social media captions. Because I find so many people in the baking business who use social media, they struggle with what to say.
They’re like, okay, I’ve taken the picture, but now what do I say? And so every single month they get done for you captions. Then there’s a rotation of what I call business sprinkles. So either we have challenges or either we’ll have updates or either we’ll have a new course and then we have a support group. And then a support group is a Facebook group. They’re able to ask their question myself, and I have a community manager who’s my assistant. We always try to answer their question within 24 hours. And so those are the main four things that people get. They get access to the learning portal and all the classes done for use, social media captions uh, once a month coaching calls.
Sometimes our coaching calls go for two hours. Sometimes they go for three hours. I have a motto that I don’t log off until the last question is answered, those are all the items that they get with the membership.
[00:56:00] David Crabill: You seem like an expert on like creating business systems, creating a brand, marketing marketing it, outsourcing, but you’ve also created this very personal brand like it seems like it’s really, really tied to you, and that seems like it’s different than the way you set up the baking business.
Am I reading that?
[00:56:21] Amanda Schonberg: Yeah. Yeah, in a sense, I mean, if, if something were to, heaven forbid, I mean, if something were to ever happen to me that there’s a plan, you know, I, I have someone I can hand it over to, but I, I don’t mind. And I know, and it is different from what I learn, I know when learning from others You can’t be the point of contact or you know, you can have a VA answer these questions and, and do this and do that.
I’m just very strategic with how I allocate my time. And I do also know that I appreciate each and every single person that pays me to be a member. You know, I have couple hundred members in nine different countries, and I don’t take that lightly. And so because of that, I like to be personal with my students.
I don’t ever want someone to feel like there’s a gate, like they can’t come to me or they, you know, have to talk to the community manager or my assistant or someone. So I like being personal. I find people open up and it allows me to help them more than anything. When people join my membership, I want them to have a transformation.
Information is great, but a transformation is better. And so every single month I want you to see yourself getting different. I want you to see yourself growing. I want you to see yourself crushing your goals, I’ve seen amazing transformations and I feel that does come from being personable. You know, I tell people I’m an open door. If you have a question, just ask
[00:57:36] David Crabill: so obviously you’ve come a long way with the bakery and the membership and where are we going in the future? As you look forward, what are some of your goals?
[00:57:48] Amanda Schonberg: To just empower others to help other bakers grow. To speak more on any platform and stage that I’m welcomed on, but more so my main goal is to help home bakers and cottage bakers to generate more sales with their baking business through marketing. And so that’s the only thing I’m really focused.
[00:58:11] David Crabill: Well, it’s very cool to see where you’ve come and um, thanks so much for sharing an abundance of advice and golden nuggets with us today. if people wanna learn more about you, can they find you or how can they reach?
[00:58:27] Amanda Schonberg: Sure they can find me on any social media outlet @bakingforbusiness. And then also if anyone wants the free guide as well, they’re more than welcome to help themselves and stay connected and get more tips from me. That would be bakingforbusiness.com/freeguide, and you can get the apps and services to help you grow your business as well for.
[00:58:52] David Crabill: All right. Well, I’ll put links to all that in the show notes, but once again, thank you Amanda for coming on and sharing with us.
[00:58:59] Amanda Schonberg: Thank you sweetie pie. It was my pleasure.
[00:59:01] David Crabill: That wraps up another episode of the Forrager podcast.
Wow, that was a lot of great advice, and Amanda’s got a lot more. As you mentioned, you can check out her free resource guide, which I’ve linked to in the show notes.
For more information about this episode, you can go to forrager.com/podcast/80.
And if you’re enjoying this podcast, please take a quick moment right now and leave me a review on Apple Podcasts. It doesn’t have to be a long review, but it’s truly the best way to support this show and will help others like you find this podcast.
And finally, if you’re thinking about selling your own homemade food, check out my free mini course where I walk you through the steps you need to take to get a cottage food business off the ground to get the course go to cottagefoodcourse.com.
Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you in the next episode.