Bradley Bake Shop / Bradley Bake Shop
“Small Business Spotlight” nominee Bradley Bake Shop specializes in gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and keto treats, from gluten-free sea salt brownies to keto-friendly carrot cake. Owner Eleanor Bradley opened her shop in Bogota, New Jersey, in 2016 after the cookies she baked for her gluten-free husband turned out to be a hit with the locals. Here, she shares the story of her transition from teacher to entrepreneur and how to determine if your business idea is truly business-ready or better off being kept as a hobby.
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Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
It was by accident. My husband had a problem with gluten — every time he ate something with gluten, it seemed to make him sick. He asked me to make him gluten-free bread because he loves bread. I had never made anything gluten-free before — I didn’t even know what gluten-free was! He brought this cookbook home, and I made it and he really liked it. So he asked me to make him another loaf because he finished that one. Then I started making cookies and other things for the family. And then I decided, well, if he’s going to eat gluten-free then we all need to eat gluten-free because I’m not making two different meals!
I was working as an English teacher in Hackensack, [New Jersey], and we had summers off, so it was towards the end of the year and I spent the bulk of my free time baking. I would experiment with a lot of gluten-free stuff. I became better at it. And my daughter would sample my stuff. At the time she was in her early 20s, and she said, “Oh mom, these are delicious! You could sell these!” So I signed up for a local farmers’ market in Bergen County, and people, to my surprise, were actually buying our cookies. I said, “Wow, I could actually make a living doing this.”
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This was in 2015, and I was close to retirement anyway, so my husband and I opened a store in 2016. I worked full-time as a teacher and I would literally run to the shop and open up in the afternoon. That’s how we got started. It was crazy because people would pass by and they would …….