Baking Up a Business from Scratch



Photography by Ashley Dru

From the farmers market to store shelves, online sales and the launch of a new cafe, local women entrepreneurs make business look like a piece of cake.


Margaret Potuck

Happy Dance Cupcakes


Margaret Potuck has two kitchens.

For the young entrepreneur and owner of Happy Dance Cupcakes in Goshen, Indiana, her work couldn’t be done any other way. Since Potuck started Happy Dance three years ago, she has converted a back room in her home into a health-department-certified baking kitchen.

When Potuck isn’t in her baking kitchen, where is she?

“Probably my other kitchen,” she says. Before moving to Goshen in 2010, Potuck worked in a Starbucks in Nashville. As she learned the ins and outs of coffee making, she found the art of flavor combination came easy to her.

“When we moved to Goshen I noticed there wasn’t a cupcake shop, so I thought, ‘I’ll do it,’” she says. “So, I did.” -Margaret Potuck

As an independent spirit and lover of all cuisine, Potuck knew that she eventually wanted to work for herself and, somehow, with food.Margaret_0001

“When we moved to Goshen I noticed there wasn’t a cupcake shop, so I thought, ‘I’ll do it,’” she says. “So, I did.”

Potuck first began trying out flavor experiments on her “official taste tester”: her husband, Michael. Michael, a music teacher, would tote the cupcakes to school so his colleagues could offer opinions on the combinations.

Apart from a few standard varieties, Potuck tries out seasonal flavors: pumpkin spice latte in the fall, eggnog in the winter and fruit-inspired combinations throughout summer and spring. Each little masterpiece is crafted with different flavors for the cake, filling and frosting.

Taste is key for Potuck. But aesthetics are just as important.

“You eat with your eyes first,” she explains. 

Throughout the year, Potuck fills catering orders for weddings and other events. Usually, she says, she puts in around 60 hours each week.

“But it doesn’t feel like labor. When I’m downtrodden I bake, too. Basically, my job makes me really happy.”

It isn’t a surprise, then, that Potuck named her business Happy Dance Cupcakes. She was inspired by her mother-in-law, a dance teacher, who exclaims, “Happy dance, happy dance!” when something exciting happens.

“And, sometimes,” Potuck says, “when you eat a cupcake, you want to do a happy dance, too.”

Profile by Liz Core

Happy Dance Cupcakes


Cyn Haas

Cyn’s Fruit-ful Muffins


Cyn Haas has been baking beautiful muffins for local cafes and stores for a decade, but she is especially enthusiastic about this particular moment: “We are living in a [food] renaissance” here in Michiana, and she is determined to be a central part of it.

Her muffins—big, lovely, delicious, ever-changing—contain only healthy, nutritious ingredients.

“We are living in a [food] renaissance” -Cyn Haas

In order to satisfy the dietary needs of as many people as possible, she uses only oats, no wheat, and whatever fruits, vegetables and other items she can get locally. Some muffins have beets, zucchini and carrots; when I interviewed her in September she was planning to bake with applesauce, given the abundance of fresh apples available. She had found an enormous squash at the farmers market, baked it, and was making squash, cardamom and chocolate muffins.

CynCyn does everything by hand—even grating nutmeg. She bakes three times a week at the certified commercial kitchen at Our Lady of the Road, connected with the Monroe Park Grocery Co-op in South Bend, Indiana. She sells her muffins wholesale at the Garden Patch Market in Mishawaka, Indiana, and retail at the Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend’s East Bank Village.

Baking has been part of her life since she first baked artisan breads with her father. From the taste and quality of her muffins, it is obvious that she has mastered the process.

She counts many children among her fans, but also their parents.

Cyn says eating one of her muffins is like having breakfast: a bowl of oatmeal with local fruit, healthy fat and almond milk. And they are filled with love. What’s not to like?

Profile by Susan D. Blum

Cyn’s Fruit-ful Muffins



Sherry Kehr

Bread… It’s In The Bag

Sherry Kehr never expected to own her own baking business.

In fact, she never expected to be the “baking type” at all.

“When my husband and I got married, I told him not to expect me to stay at home and be a Susie Homemaker,” says Kehr.

“I never expected it to be what it is, to grow like this. I feel in my heart that I’m very blessed.” —Sherry Kerr

But when their son was born with complications, Kehr knew she needed to quit her job. Then, at age 2, their son was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy.

“That’s what kind of got my whole business started,” she says. “[His allergy] required me to make everything for him.”

 Kehr kept the kitchen stocked with packaged meals that could be prepared in minutes. Only, unlike many busy families, Kehr made all the packages herself.

“When my friends found out I was doing this, they asked if I could make bags for them, too.”

SherryNow, two decades after starting her Goshen, Indiana–based business, Bread… It’s In The Bag, Kehr continues to enjoy the science of perfecting recipes. The dozens of mixes she sells for breads (favorites include oregano, multigrain and her white chocolate chip scones), desserts, dinners and dips have all been specially developed to be as healthy and locally sourced as possible. All of Kehr’s products can also be custom-made for specific dietary needs.

In a single day, Kehr can make hundreds of bags to fulfill her orders. The production facility for Bread… It’s In The Bag is located in the Kehr family backyard.

Kehr’s path had not been without roadblocks, however. In April, Kehr lost her parents in a car accident. Since the business began, her father had been her only employee.

“If we wanted to, we could go the whole day without talking,” she says. “I could put my hand out and he would know exactly what to hand me.”

Kehr’s resolve has been to continue the business even through the difficult time because, she says, her parents would have wanted it.

“I never expected it to be what it is, to grow like this,” she says. “I feel in my heart that I’m very blessed.”

Profile by Liz Core

Bread… It’s In The Bag
26241 County Rd. 40, Goshen, IN
Stop by the Holiday Open House  at Bread… It’s In The Bag,
December 7 and 14, 9am–3pm.

Marianne Christy

Christy’s Bakery and Produce

Marianne Christy first started turning out cookies when she was 5 years old and was soon helping her mother prepare Sunday dinners, assisting her grandmother in baking bread on a wood-burning stove and even learning how to cut up chickens with her dad.

“I had a lot of teachers in the kitchen,” says Christy, owner of Christy’s Bakery and Produce.

“The Niles incubator helped me realize that I wanted something bigger, something that has been developing over my life.” —Marianne Christy

“I love to create all types of food.”

But when it came to making her husband’s favorite cookie—oatmeal—Christy couldn’t find the perfect recipe. So she started adapting, replacing conventional ingredients with those organic and locally sourced.

Marianne“That’s when the cookies started taking on a life of their own,” says Christy, who lives in Edwardsburg, Michigan.

Selling her cookies at farmers markets, Christy also listened to her customers’ recommendations. She now makes 15 varieties of oatmeal cookies and other baked goods including her best-selling Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Brownies and Chocolate Wacky Cake and seasonal cookies and muffins.

Her mantra is sustainable, local, organic and simple.

When Christy was making the decision to go from home baker to entrepreneur, she signed up for the Niles Entrepreneurial and Culinary Incubator (NECI). “The Niles incubator helped me realize that I wanted something bigger, something that has been developing over my life,” says Christy. “My dream has always been to own a diner, cafe or coffeehouse and the incubator was a great stepping stone for making that dream a reality.”

Christy’s bakery is scheduled to open soon in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Until then, her baked goods are available in Indiana at the Granger Farmers Market and the Purple Porch Food Co-op (South Bend).

“What I’ve always wanted is emerging,” she says. “It’s about to be real.”

Profile by Jane Ammeson

Christy’s Bakery and Produce

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