Emily Dubner dreamed up Baking for Good in her cozy NYC kitchen in early 2009. Back then she worked as a management consultant, but she spent her free time honing her baking skills and discovering that nothing brings a smile to friends’ faces like a homemade batch of cookies or brownies.
Although the word entrepreneur wasn’t in Emily’s vocabulary as a child, she displayed an early entrepreneurial spirit through small-scale business ventures such as designing and selling hair accessories and personalized canvas tote bags. Emily went on to earn a social studies degree from Harvard University in 2006, along with a citation in Mandarin Chinese, and began her career as a management consultant for Katzenbach Partners in New York. Eventually, Emily’s professional role as a consultant, which heavily exposed her to the world of entrepreneurship, rekindled her entrepreneurial spirit. In late 2008, a gift of baked goods delivered to her mother sparked Emily’s idea for Baking for Good. Incorporating her love of baking, experience with fundraising as a child and the desire to start a business of her own, it was in January 2009 that Emily began plans for a company that is not only dedicated to providing premium, gourmet cookies and brownies but is also committed to helping great causes raise money.
MO: Have you been able to apply many of the skills you acquired as a management consultant to being a professional baker?
Emily: One of the best skills I learned from management consulting was problem solving. There are so many unexpected questions and problems and issues that come up while starting or running a business, and I’ve been lucky to be able to take each one in stride and come up with a solution. Management consulting taught me to be very structured in my thinking and to think through scenarios to find the best solution.
MO: Do you think that people choose your products over others due to the feel good factor of giving more than just cookies?
Emily: I definitely think that our social good component affects people’s inclination to order from us. People want to feel connected to the companies and products they purchase from, and we give them a great way to do that by helping them support charities that they care about. That being said, we wouldn’t have repeat business if people didn’t think the products themselves were good, so it helps that our cookies and brownies are delicious!
MO: Can customers really choose any charity? Are there any specific charities that you see people donating to most regularly?
Emily: We have a list of about 200 national and local organizations that our customers can choose from at checkout, and people and nonprofits reach out to us all the time about adding new ones. We find that animal charities and health-related causes are especially popular.
MO: How are you able to make a profit when you’re constantly giving away 15% of your profits?
Emily: Part of our model is to encourage each of our partners to spread the word about Baking for Good to their supporters, so I think of the 15% in some ways as a marketing expense. It’s also so much a part of our brand that I don’t even question it. Giving back to organizations our customers care about is what Baking for Good is all about.
MO: I was really impressed with your fantastic selection and the packaging as well. Did you make most of your decisions independently or did you have other bakers or consultants to help guide your decisions and help develop your brand?
Emily: My boyfriend would say that he’s been very influential in the treat selection, and that’s certainly true! We’re always brainstorming new treat ideas together, and he has a big sweet tooth, so he knows what he’s talking about. I’ve also relied on friends and family and customers to give lots of feedback on new product ideas and recipes. For the packaging, I worked with the wonderful Paperwhite Studio here in New York. They also designed our website.
MO: You’ve already managed to get a solid customer base and some great press and magazine coverage so far. What’s next for Baking for Good?
Emily: It’s all about growth. We’ve proven that customers love our cookies and our concept, so now it’s about getting more and more people to know about us. We recently introduced a referral program , where customers can earn free treats by referring friends, and it’s led to a noticeable increase in sales. I’m also focusing on growth in the corporate segment for client gifts and events, as corporate orders have the potential to bring in significant revenue while also exposing lots of new people to Baking for Good. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll tell your friends and family about Baking for Good. Every little bit helps!