---- — Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to baker Kate Hewlett and her brother Christopher MacLeman of Kate's Kreations in Oneonta.
Tell me about your business:
Kate Hewlett: Kate's Kreations is a specialized bakery. I do special orders, and sell baked goods from Bistro on Main in Oneonta. I'm the baker _ my brother Christopher is the business owner.
I'm always branching out to try different things. I'll always do cookies, but I try to do something different every week. For example, this week, I've got granola bars, which is something new. I've never done granola bars before.
Christopher MacLeman: But it's not just what you see at Bistro on Main _ it's muffins, scones, cookie platters, coffee cake. We're selling Kate's Koffee Kake on Sundays at the Roundhouse (Pub and Grill at the Oneonta Country Club). We sell a ton of it at the holidays. And we do special orders.
How did you get started in this line of work?
Hewlett: I started doing it to relieve stress. I was making little cookies, and selling them to teachers at my mom's school. I started making coffee cake, and I would sell it to people at church. I was baking at my mother's house, and then when my mom passed, I went to my brother's restaurant.
MacLeman: When I moved back from Las Vegas three years ago, we were still doing it at home _ special orders, stuff like that. Then the second year, we did Christmas orders out of the restaurant (at Woodhaven Golf Course in West Oneonta).
Hewlett: Then when my brother came to Bistro on Main, I started baking here. We had an open house in the fall in November, and in March, I started selling from the restaurant. I couldn't have done it if it weren't for Christopher.
Where do you see this business in five years?
Hewlett: To be on Main Street somewhere, with an awning out in front. That's the dream.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
Hewlett: A challenge is always trying to come up with something new every week. You don't know if people are going to like it, but I want to keep offering people something new.
And it was a bit of a challenge getting used to the commercial kitchen. I had to learn the health rules, and, you know, things are just different than your home kitchen. Christopher was really good with helping me. I'm older, but I've learned so much from him. But since I've been here, the weekly baking has actually been a lot easier. I've gotten more confident.
The most enjoyable?
Hewlett: Being in the kitchen by myself, whipping out the cookies, and knowing that I'm producing a product that everyone loves. Who doesn't love cookies?
MacLeman: For me, it's helping her out, and having her be able to do what she loves to do.
Hewlett: And I'm just glad I'm doing the cookies here. You want that little sweet treat after you eat your lunch, so it's really perfect.
What are some advantages of doing business in this area?
Hewlett: In Oneonta, we're really the only place you can just go and get a cookie. You don't really get that anywhere else on Main Street.
MacLeman: If you do, they're not home-baked.
Hewlett: I feel good that I make a good, homemade product.
What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?
Hewlett: If baking is a dream, then definitely just keep going with it. Different avenues will open up. A lot of it was word-of-mouth for me.
MacLeman: The big time of year for us is Christmas and New Year's, so you want to get out there. We did the open house last year in the fall.
Hewlett: Last year was the first open house, and it was really nice _ the whole bar was filled with samples, and a lot of people came in and tried things. People think, "I have time before the holidays," but we offered a discount for anyone who placed an order at the open house, so that got people to order.
For information about Shop Talk, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 217, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.