Harvard College - B.A. in Social Studies with Citation in Mandarin Chinese
Baked goods and charity donations. Could a pairing be any more natural?
Emily Dubner, founder and CEO of Baking for Good, doesn't think so. We all remember bake sales from our days in elementary school, but this leading lady took the idea one step further. She started an online bakery that allows people to send cookies to their friends and family nationwide and support their favorite cause — all at the same time.
Emily's favorite part of her job is hearing feedback from not only her customers (who rave about the delicious cookies), but also from the organizations Baking for Good supports, including how they're using the funds that are raised.
It's not easy, but a little confidence goes a long way.
How did you discover your current job?
A few years ago, I was visiting my parents over the holidays and my grandmother got sick. Many of my mom's friends sent flowers, but one person sent cookies and it was a gift that really stood out to me. So, I decided to create an online bakery that would allow people to send delicious, high-quality cookie gifts for any occasion. I combined this gift-giving idea with the tradition of the bake sale I grew up with, where baked goods are sold to raise money for great organizations. Fusing the two ideas together, I came up with Baking for Good: an online bakery inspired by the idea of a bake sale, where you can send delicious cookie gifts to friends and family nationwide and support a cause that's important to you or to them.
What is your typical day like, and what types of things do you do in your job?
My day usually starts around 6 a.m., when I go for a jog or work out at my favorite fitness studio, Refine. Then I head to the bakery In Long Island City, N.Y., where I greet my baker and pack and ship all of the day's orders. Then it's back to my home office, where I respond to customer emails, spend some time tweeting/Facebooking/blogging, brainstorm new treats and partnerships for upcoming holidays and prep orders for the following day. Things get very busy around the holidays, so at those times I just try to find a few moments to breathe!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love getting great feedback from people who receive our treats. It's so nice to hear people say how delicious our cookies are, how fresh they tasted or how much they appreciate the donation component. It's also amazing to hear feedback from some of the organizations we support and learn exactly how they're using the funds that we raise for them.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Growth is a challenge that I think about a lot. We have more than 200 nonprofit and community partners that our customers can choose to donate to at checkout. Is this too many? Should customers have so much choice, or would it be better to focus on fewer organizations?
Another side of growth is scaling our operations. We have a seasonal business, where about 30 percent of our business comes in December. How can we better adjust our operations to handle the influx of orders during the holidays?
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I rarely take time off. Even when I go on vacation, I'm still working. Our website never closes, so it's like our doors are always open. We have a very small team; if I don't respond to emails, no one does!
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
I've learned that everything takes longer than you expect it to and you have to be patient. Whether it's working with a new partner, trying to get website changes in place or waiting for FedEx to deliver a package, everything takes time and you have to account for that. Setting deadlines is important, but so is the ability to adapt when things don't go exactly as planned.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly those in your industry?
Guts! I meet so many women who want to start businesses but are afraid to take the risk or don't have the confidence to ask for help. I've had to overcome some fears of my own to grow Baking for Good. It's not easy, but a little confidence goes a long way.
Who are your role models?
There are several entrepreneurs I really respect: the Birchbox and Rent the Runway girls for having great ideas and hitting them out of the park; Kate Spade and Tory Burch for building relatable, iconic brands; and Martha Stewart for leading the way in the world of handmade, do-it-yourself craftiness.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Be generous. When I was working as a consultant in Seattle, we used to go to a bread company called Great Harvest. Their motto was, "Be generous." You could go in and ask for a slice of any kind of bread and they would give you a generous slice on the house. One of my teammates once asked for several slices to bring back to our colleagues at the office -- she meant to buy them, of course -- but the girl behind the counter said, "Slices are free!" and sliced up the whole loaf for her.
I try to be generous with our customers, whether by adding extra treats to gifts, customizing cookies for special occasions or upgrading shipping so packages will arrive in time for important events. I will always remember Great Harvest's generosity and hope our customers will feel the same about Baking for Good.
What advice do you have for women who want to be in your industry?
Test out your ideas in small ways first. Your friends and family will be happy to try out your product and give you feedback. Make sure there's a market for your product before you invest a ton of time and money into making it.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I hope Baking for Good will be a go-to gifting site with national name-recognition while still maintaining a small, local feel. I want Baking for Good to feel like your local bakery that also happens to be able to send perfect gifts for you anywhere in the country.