Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekend Post: The Other Baby (our bread baking business)

Here is the final four part of our story.....the other side of how God has strengthened my faith. You can catch up by reading part 1-3 from the past three weekends. Have a blessed weekend!

As days and weeks went on, the wholesale business continued to grow out our back door. Sales were easy, but keeping up with production in our tiny kitchen was tough. Hiring and training employees was exhausting. On top of that, Clint was baking, taking care of books, increasing sales and delivering bread. You name it, he did it all the while keeping up with production of the café. I will never forget one night our head baker that had been with us for 2 years didn’t show up for work. Clint then went on to work 72 hours straight. I knew at that point something had to change….Clint couldn’t keep going on anymore. The balance of the café and wholesale was taking a toll on Clint, our family and our business. The breaking point was when he was asleep on top of flour sacks one morning in the bakery kitchen. I knew at that moment we had to shut our retail doors. In June 2006, with heavy yet peaceful hearts, we closed our café doors. Clint moved excitingly forward with growing the wholesale business. Pregnant with our second baby, I was content to be at home with children and not have the stress of a retail café.

Growing the wholesale the past four years continues to be hard. There were times we thought we needed to close shop and move on. Everyone else getting paid but us continues to wear on us but we have gotten use to it. We have learned to be content in putting money back into the bakery and helping it grow. We have also learned that everything will work out, even when we haven’t received checks from our customers and we have no money to pay our employees. Somehow, someway, the check rolls in just in time and we take a deep breath and keep going. Keeping employees happy, keeping accounts receivable and payable balanced has been a struggle along with Clint continuing to work long hours. But we are hopeful that our business will continue to grow and succeed. The path has been and continues to be more difficult than we could have ever imagined. But we wouldn’t trade what we have learned and been through together for the world. We now have three healthy children who love to go see daddy at the bakery and get their hands on some dough. We take such joy in knowing everyday that thousands of people are eating our bread. That alone makes it all worth it along with knowing that no matter what happens, we have taken that road less traveled. Is it an easy road? NO! But is it a road full of memories, wisdom, growth, love and lots of tears and laughter? YES! And if we had to do it all over again, well at this point, probably not! We hope to continue to grow the business and touch people’s lives with what our children say is…”goooood bread!”

I like to say that we our pioneers of the 21st century. Clint comes from a long line of French family who settled in Louisiana & Arkansas. They loved to cook and hunt and this is our only explanation for Clint’s talents….it is strictly in his blood. He was given a wonderful legacy of good food from Louisiana ancestors and great duck hunting from his French ties in Arkansas.

I never knew my great grandparents who settled on the Texas Plains in 1904 and who gave me a wonderful legacy; however, I have come to know them in a strange way through our struggles of being entrepreneurs. Although the times are different now and not near as hard, Clint and I can relate to Granddad and Granny Venneman through the hard times of stepping out in faith and going for our dreams, just as they did over 100 years ago. They drove horses and a wagon with their baby girl across the Midwest to Texas. Granddad built a two-room house on the rugged plains for his family, where Granny made their clothes from the flour sacks she used for baking bread. She churned butter on horseback on her way to the mailbox, which was 10 miles away. They faced the dust bowl, where most people packed up and moved away because it was so horrific, but they persevered. Because they went for their dreams and didn’t give up, my family enjoys and holds dear to our hearts an amazing Texas legacy as well as a nice way of living on the 100 year old working cattle ranch. This is our hope for our little family. To give them something that is being lost in today’s times…..roots and a strong foundation. Hopefully our grandkids and great grandkids will look back at our hard times, struggles and perseverance and find inspiration and hope. This is the best gift we can give our children. Little did you know this all ties into baking bread for you.

Thanks for letting us share our story thus far. As the years go on, I will keep on writing……about a divine intervention, falling in love, chasing dreams, being flat broke, laughing at mistakes, and just being plain crazy.

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