Maria Otto has found her sweet spot: baking delectable scones, pies, and cinnamon rolls. What started off as treats for family and friends out of her home kitchen has leavened into a successful brick-and-mortar business in downtown Bay City.
Starting from scratch was not easy, but Maria had studied entrepreneurship and marketing while at Grand Valley State University. Her experience in pitch competitions and business plans all centered around her future bakery that would feature seasonal pies. After college, Maria spent a decade in the automotive industry, but when an older brother encouraged her to sell her pastries, she dusted off her dream, perfected her recipes, and two years later took the plunge full time.
Maria had a good idea of how to start a business, but wanted to ensure that she dotted all the “i’s” and crossed all the “t’s.” She met with a friend for coffee—now Michigan SBDC’s Chief Client Services Officer, Beth Roszatycki—who referred her to Business Consultant Karlie Robinson, who helped Maria set up her LLC and EIN and select a protectable name. Once sales took off, Business Consultant Michelle Judd assisted her in finding and securing a retail location. Little Pastry Shop now has three employees, and Maria has new dreams of becoming a nationally known “little” pastry shop brand.
“I’d encourage other entrepreneurs to ‘say it out loud,’” said Maria. “Even if it’s just to yourself, say out loud what you want to do. It gets the wheels going, and lets other people know who will help you get your business started.”