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So You Wanna Start A Bakery with Makenzie Arias from Copeland & Co. Bakery

Welcome to our So You Wanna Start A... series, designed to give you a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the journeys that went into creating some of your favorite local brands.

Today's guest is Makenzie Arias from Copeland & Co. Bakery based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Our favorite piece of advice: "Don’t be so hard on yourself." Local business owners are often extra critical of themselves because their business is often intertwined with their identity. Makenzie keeps her sanity by remembering that business challenges have nothing to do with her worth as a human. Something you should remember too 😉

1. What do you own and why did you start this business?

I own a small home bakery business that sells nostalgic breakfast pastries, such as pop-tarts and cinnamon rolls. I started this small bakery in April of 2021, after the pandemic hit and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. One thing that had always stayed constant in my life was my love for food and being in the kitchen. I had gone to Culinary School before college, majored in Food and Nutrition at Arizona State University, and honestly studied cooking and baking any chance that I had because I enjoyed it so much. When 2021 came around and I was deciding where I wanted to take my career, I thought about the one place I always loved the ambiance of.. a bakery. Something small, where when you walked in, the sweet scent of all the pastries would immediately hit you. You could see the doughs being made in the back kitchen and the pastry case would be full of fresh baked goodies. The whole atmosphere of a bakery just made me happy. With that, I went straight into working out how I could open up a small bakery of my own. Months later, Copeland & Co. was born!

2. What is an early win you had that made you feel like you were on the right path?

My husband and I are big fans of coffee and local spots here in Lexington. So as I was in the process of recipe development and very busy, my husband would pick up our coffees from our favorite shop nearby, Leestown Coffee. The owner had noticed I hadn’t been there recently and my husband mentioned that I was busy trying to start up my new bakery business. Given that they sell pastries from local bakeries in Lexington, he said, “give her my information and have her reach out when she gets up and running. We would love to add more pastries to our menu, especially if she has gluten free options.” I had no idea that getting in with local shops was an opportunity I could have, but a month or two later we were in with Leestown. Now most of our business is with local coffee shops that we love!

3. What's one of the biggest challenges you’ve had?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had is trying to maintain structure and balance in my life. Anyone that has a small business can tell you that it’s hard work. It means long hours, a lot of research, learning new skills to further your business, being creative, connecting with your community, etc. That list could go on for days, but overall, owning your own business is tough. So trying to find a balance between my personal and business life has been one of the biggest challenges for me. I learn more with each day and it continues to get better overtime, so it’s a challenge I’ve learned to happily accept.

4. What are three pieces of advice you’d give to aspiring local business owners in your industry?

1) Research your butt off. One of the first things I did was sit down and look into what I wanted to sell, what laws and regulations I would need to follow in my area, what my financial investment in this business would look like. Get all of those things out of the way so you know your starting point and you can get to the fun stuff.

2) Be creative. Whether it’s with your products, your marketing, your branding, just make it YOU. This is your business so you get to have fun making it whatever you want it to be. Go crazy and experiment with lots of fun flavors or marketing ideas!

3) Don’t be so hard on yourself. Like I mentioned before, starting your own business is hard. There are a lot of days where you feel like quitting and it’s not going to work, but just realize that you’re doing something you love and you’re kicking butt. Nothing good comes easy, and at the end of the day, you’re hopefully going to be really proud of the work that you have done.

5. Where is your business heading next and what are you excited about?

Right now I am really excited to be partnering with new shops, releasing new and exciting flavors, and having fun with it all! Lexington is such an amazing and supportive city for small businesses. I’m very honored to be a part of it and to meet so many others that are doing the work that they love!

Find Copeland & Co. Bakery:

Instagram: @copelandcobakery
Facebook: @copelandcobakery
Website: copelandcobakery.com

Want to be featured in our SYWSA series? Fill out our contact form here to get the ball rolling.

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