The Pastry Project is a sweet little business that has baked up one heck of a mission and product. From their eye-catching packaging to their inviting Instagram account, this Seattle-based brand is easy to root for: they’re on a mission to make sure anyone who dreams of a career in baking gets the skills and head start they need. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with co-founders Emily Kim and Heather Hodge about why they started The Pastry Project, their newest product offerings, and much more. Here’s what they had to say.
HH: Emily and I founded The Pastry Project in 2019 with the goal of providing free baking and pastry training for individuals who face barriers in the industry. We really wanted, more than anything, to be able to reduce or eliminate those barriers to learning and getting a job in the industry.
HH: We just graduated our 5th cohort, and we are recruiting for our next cohort right now. We have done a lot of things over the years to make money, like teaching workshops in the baking and pastry field and selling some fun pastry-related items, but our newest product (which we are so excited about) is what we think will be that big scalable thing that allows The Pastry Project and our program to grow. That’s our Take & Bakery. The Take & Bakery is a line of take-and-bake cookie dough. We already have seven or eight flavors that are inspired by the recipes that we teach our students.
EK: We knew we wanted a pouch. We knew we wanted fun, modern, and cute packaging. So, we started looking around. We have a mutual friend that recently started a tea company, and she was using pouches for her mixes. We reached out to her and she recommended Roastar, so we started ordering samples and went from there.
HH: I think a big aspect was the order minimums because we’re not backed by any outside funding. When we invest in something, we often find we can only invest a couple thousand in the first run of it. We knew that was extremely important and Roastar had low minimums, which was good.
HH: It's been good. I’ve dealt with a lot of different ordering systems over the years. I would say that Roastar is definitely on the great side of those ordering systems. It's easy for me to upload what I need. There's a nice quick turnaround on proofs. I can really evaluate how everything is looking.
HH: We decided that we were going to do direct-to-consumer by shipping products nationally, as well as getting into grocery stores and other marketplaces here in Seattle. Our price for shipping just doubled recently. We didn’t want to put that expense on the consumer, so right now we are only shipping once a month. One thing that we can say is that, when we decided that we were going to do this, we wanted to make it the absolute best that we could – an amazing, beautiful product that feels whimsical and makes people happy. We have never been so proud of anything that we made apart from our student program, and it feels good that we went all in.
EK: So, our very first cookie dough flavor was what we call “the perfect chocolate chip cookie” and it’s a riff on what Heather was mentioning before; it’s the first recipe that we teach our students. A lot of our flavors are twists on iconic recipes. I think we are always going to try and release seasonal things and things that are fun and new.
EK: Our two classic flavors are here at PCC (Puget Consumers Co-op). We also host Dough Days once a month where you can buy dough from our shop window, along with “Online Dough Days.” So, for one week a month, which we’ll announce via social or online newsletters, you can order from us online.
EK: When Heather and I met at an ice cream company, we really saw firsthand how hard it was for people to obtain back-of-house kitchen pastry positions without any experience. Seeing that repeatedly is really what boosted us into talking about the barriers to entry in this field, why they were there, and then just building this program out because we didn't see it anywhere else. That's why we just decided to build this ourselves. We’re proud of running five full cohorts at this point and cohort six will start in February, so we’re currently recruiting for that next cohort of students, which is really exciting!