After Working at the Top Bakeries in the Country, She Opened Her Own — Then the Pandemic Changed How It Operated
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In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring One House Bakery, a bakery in Benecia, California, serving delicious food made with clean and pure ingredients. Here, we chat with co-owner Hannalee Pervan about what she learned from her previous jobs at several renowned bakeries, why she expanded her business’s offerings during the pandemic and the support system that enables her bakery to thrive.
Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
When I was younger, I used to bake all the time with my mother and my grandmother. I fell in love with baking and cooking and from about 10 years old — owning a bakery was my singular dream. For my whole life, it has been the only thing I have ever wanted to do.
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What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?
I have been very lucky in terms of my past jobs. When I first immigrated to the U.S. from Canada, I worked at Porto’s Bakery in L.A. There, one of my mentors, Chef Tony Salazar, taught me how to make large-scale productions of baked goods and pastries while keeping the quality very high. Next, I went to Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley, where I worked as part of the pastry team and later the bread team. I was also a part of the team that made the bread for The French Laundry every day. Being there taught me a new level of attention to detail, efficiency and cleanliness. After that, I worked at La Parisienne Bakery in Miami. This was a high-scale bread production bakery, but all the shaping was done by hand. We supplied the top restaurants and hotels in South Beach with all of their bread. I learned how to mix, divide and shape artisan bread very quickly while maintaining the quality.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
For me, there are two very different but equally rewarding aspects of being a business owner. The first is seeing how happy our food makes our customers. That is the main goal in everything we do. We work so hard and push ourselves every day so that when someone eats something we have created, they truly know it was made with passion and love. I also take an immense amount of joy from seeing my employees happy to be at work. One House is my happy place and is something that came from my heart and mind. I want my employees to thrive and find their home here too.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic has dramatically affected our business. Everything had to move to take-out or delivery almost immediately. We didn’t even have an online ordering system set up yet. I had to learn very quickly how to create an online system and import all of our items. We also started selling grocery and staples items because we knew the supermarkets were starting to have shortages. We set up delivery drivers and curbside pickup so that people would not have to leave their homes or their cars if they didn’t feel safe. A big change also came when we started butchering our own whole cuts of meat and fish to keep the cost down, and began offering family meals every night. When the pandemic first started, I was watching my family and my staff starting to get scared and worried about everything. My first instinct was to feed them, so I started to make large pots of food and sent my staff home with that. It occurred to me that we could be providing this type of comfort food for our community as well. We started to offer large meals on a nightly basis — all of them were things that I literally would cook for my family when I had time. I would make sure there was an abundance of leftovers in each meal and that all my staff would have dinner that night too.
How can people continue to support your business during this time?
Our community and customers have been so incredibly supportive of us. We have been on our own timeline in terms of opening indoor seating, and almost everyone has been very supportive. People can just continue to come to One House and buy their favorite pastries, and maybe try one they haven’t yet!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
The advice I would give to someone would be that you can’t do it all on your own. I have my parents by my side every day and I couldn’t do it without them. In the beginning, I wanted to do it all on my own. My ego wouldn’t let me ask for help because I thought that would somehow take something away from my accomplishments. I realized that in order to reach the next level, I had to trust my team and realize we all had the same goal. I have the most amazing sweet and savory sous-chefs and the most incredible retail and barista managers, and I truly couldn’t do it without them. There is no shame in asking for help or admitting you don’t know something.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
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