What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Starting an Artisan Sweets Company
“Do your homework and become an expert in your product’s field,” advised Hannah Scarritt-Selman, founder of the Little Boo Boo Bakery, the mouthwatering marshmallow company in New York. In the final part of a 4-part series, learn about the challenges and sweet rewards of starting your own business.
What was your biggest challenge in founding Little Boo Boo Bakery?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: The biggest challenge is starting this business is a lot is learned as you go. You make lots of mistakes but you hopefully don’t make them twice. You also can’t be crippled by failure because there are many things initially that will steer you to say, “I can’t do this. I’ve never done this before. I don’t know how to problem solve.” What’s important is taking a step back and breaking the problem into small decisions, looking at it rationally to the point where you know exactly the plan of action.
If you could go back and do anything differently in this process, what would you want to change?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: It’s taken a few years to really figure out what our brand is and more importantly what it isn’t. We’re not trying to be a one-stop dessert shop that makes cakes and chocolates and cupcakes. We do what we do and I believe we do it well. It can be hard to say no to opportunities, but I think now looking back, I would have the confidence to say no to projects that weren’t great fits and to say yes to the projects that really get what we’re about and help us grow.
Did you make any big mistakes during the first few years you were in business? If yes, can you share one or two?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: There haven’t been any huge mistakes, but I think figuring out the best way to package the marshmallows has been something laborious. We started by sealing marshmallows in poly bags and then placing that in boxes. That became redundant. Then we moved to just bags, but we soon realized the bags didn’t look good under the florescent light in grocery stores. Our current packaging both highlights our product as well as sits nicely on store shelves.
How do you balance the joy of getting to follow your passion with the very different aspects of actually running a business?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: I have to remind myself that it is a balance but also that it’s crucial to celebrate victories. Whether it be press, an impressive new client or special project, all the benchmarks of success are self-imposed and the direct result of lots of hard work and late night problem solving.
What is your main advice to other entrepreneurs who would like to start their own company?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: My advice is do your homework and become an expert in your product’s field. I am by no means a scientist, but I am very familiar with natural stabilizers which is never something I planned to learn about. Also be respectful and kind to everyone.
What challenges have you encountered as an entrepreneur who is female? How have you overcome them?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: I think as a female entrepreneur you have to know that in most situations you will always have to be your biggest champion and you will have to make sure your voice is heard. There was a situation where I was discussing my recipe with a potential manufacturer and a gentleman who, though I'm sure had the best intentions, sat across from me and said that my business was cute but if I wanted it to be more than a cute business I'd need to make changes to the recipe. It's also important to be confident in the goals you are trying to achieve—whether it be lowering the cost of a specific ingredient or making sure your product has good placement on a retail shelf.
What’s in store for the future of Little Boo Boo Bakery?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: The future of our business is exciting! We’re working on some exciting partnerships for the holiday season as well as new flavors.
What do you think has contributed to the success of your business?
Hannah Scarritt-Selman: Beyond our quality marshmallow, I think our success has to do with knowing who we are as a company and staying true to that voice.