Baking, business and a recipe for success

Published 6:08 pm Sunday, August 28, 2011

When it comes to baking, Marianne Christy, has secrets of sweet success down to a science of sorts.

“It starts off with ingredients,” Christy said. “If you’re really picky about your ingredients, you turn out a better product in the end.”

Christy is really picky about her ingredients.

Christy has been whipping up organic treats from a long list of oatmeal cookie varieties to brownies, zucchini muffins and even quinoa cakes through her business Christy’s Bakery and Produce.

She uses organic and locally sourced ingredients including local eggs and zucchini and organic butter.

“I’ve been baking since I was five,” she said. “I really do enjoy it … And I don’t want to toot my own horn but, I’m really good at it.”

It’s that confidence in her process and her product that’s leading Christy to take her business to the next level.

Currently, Christy’s operation is centered in her home kitchen in Edwardsburg. There, she bakes up all of her specialty items for sale at Niles’ Bensidoun French Market, the

Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend and the Granger Farmers Market in Granger, Ind.

She’s been at the French Market since last year and just in that time, she said sales have been going “extremely well.”

She credits the initial success of her business not only to being picky about her ingredients but also to listening and looking for what customers want.

“It takes a while to learn what people really want,” she said. “It all boils down to having a good product.”

Just as she would pick out specific ingredients for the perfect oatmeal cookie, Christy is picking out opportunities to grow her business.

She’ll be one of the first businesses to utilize the Creative Economic Development Center for Entrepreneurs, located on Fourth Street in Niles just above the offices of Leader Publications.

Christy plans to use the kitchen space available to bake enough product for wholesale with hopes to see her cookies on the shelves of around 10 small stores.

“It’d like to have it up and running to wholesale the cookies in October,” Christy said.

Along with the help of the Creative Economic Development Center for Entrepreneurs, a Niles Main Street initiative, Christy has been getting help from the Michigan State University Extension which has been providing advice on the marketing of her product.

Christy’s hopes are to move into targeted stores, whose customers are looking for organic food.

As market season winds down, getting into the larger kitchen space that will bring her one step closer to wholesale is what’s on Christy’s mind. And like her muffins and baked goods, she’s likely to rise to any opportunity.

“Start small, grow big,” she said.

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