We sat down with Amanda Mizen to discuss what’s baking at her Leslieville bakeshop, Desmond & Beatrice.
You seem to do it all: You’re an expert baker, an entrepreneur and a public relations/social maven. What are your tips for staying above water?
I have a wonderful team! I definitely don’t do it all. There was a point where I did but we have a group of people who help run the shop, the kitchen, the books etc. I run all of our marketing and social, but I love it!
Naming your business isn’t an easy task. We know Desmond & Beatrice is named after your paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother. Why did you decide to name your business after your grandparents?
I will be honest here in saying that it sounded good. There is no ground breaking deeper meaning here! Ha ha
Were they pivotal in the shaping of your business?
No, they were a big part of my childhood and I love them. That’s it.
Your bakeshop is situated in Toronto’s hip Leslieville neighbourhood. What do you love about your neighbourhood?
I love the sense of customer loyalty and support. People truly shop local and will come to you to keep the neighbourhood thriving.
You’ve been selling your products online since 2012; can you provide some insight on how it’s helped your business?
The website and ability to shop online is just a few year old. It has been wonderful and has helped us access customers all over the greater Toronto area.
You’re known for your robin’s egg blue packaging and cheerful branding. How did you decide on a colour scheme and branding for Desmond & Beatrice?
I wanted something recognizable with a little punch. I also have the world’s best graphic designer and she spearheads all of our amazing design needs.
With so many outstanding products, do you have a preferred treat?
Chocolate chip cookies. One a day keeps the skinny away…
How do you create your seasonal menus?
We open up and welcome ideas from our staff. We see what’s current and look at what will work with our production. We try to have fun and keep things new and seasonal and weird. Always need a little bit of weird.
Social media is clearly a big part of promoting your business, and you’re active on many platforms. Which are you most drawn to? Why?
We are active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Instagram is my favourite. It is interactive and super fun. Pinterest is mainly for my personal interests but is inclusive of shop related ideas. It runs a close second to Instagram.
What challenges have you found with social media?
I find Facebook challenging lately with the newly implemented fees. You essentially have to throw money at a post to capture an audience now.
Let’s talk business. What’s your favourite part of owning and running your own business?
The ability to reinvent and create whenever I want.
What’s the hardest or most challenging part of your job?
Managing growth. It is expensive to grow!
How do you find partners and fellow entrepreneurs to work with? What makes a good business collaboration?
I am lucky to have a lot of friends who are entrepreneurs so that is a great start. I find that Instagram is a wonderful platform to reach out to people and start connections.
I am also not shy. Sometimes it’s as easy as an email that says, hey I think you’re cool and I want to do this. You in?!
How large is the team you manage?
We have a team of 13 with an amazing group of interns that come and go, and some stay!
What are some of the roles of your team members?
We have assistant bakers, bakers, interns, cupcake slingers, a kitchen manager, and a sales and event manager. My husband and I wear many hats.
Which other businesses do you admire? Why?
Oh there are too many to list. Toronto is chalked full of awesome. My good friends own Crowns Nest Barber shop and they are a wonderful example of community and support in success.
To list a few others just because they are plain cool and some are my friends:
- Bikes on Wheels (http://www.bikesonwheels.com/) – they have it going on with branding
- Town Moto (https://townmoto.com/) – also buds also a rad store that has something for everyone.
- North Standard (http://northstandard.com/) – I want everything in that store
- Sloane Tea (http://sloanetea.com/) – because I’m a sucker for great packaging with equally great product.
- SPiN Ping Pong Club (http://toronto.wearespin.com/) – they are our business partners!
You’ve had some great collaborations in the past. If D&B could collaborate with anyone who would it be? Why?
Oh this is a tough one. From the creative perspective I would love to put together a fun shoot with Tiffany Pratt. She is too cool for school and so much fun to follow on Instagram #girlcrush
I also love the girls from TSOQ. They are so fun to follow and I would love to do a fun shoot with them!
If you were to create a signature “Toronto” cupcake, what would it consist of?
Toronto is pretty straight up. I don’t think I would create anything new but rather stick to most popular. Likely red velvet!