Editor’s Note: This month’s article is brought to you by The Reader’s newest writer, Katy Spratte Joyce. A recently married Minnesota native, Katy is a freelance food and travel writer
Beth Brown has always been into numbers – crunching them, analyzing them, working with them. But what doesn’t add up? Her quitting a highly paid job as an actuary to open a specialty bake shop in Millard. We caught up with this female boss lady to learn the why and hear a little bit more about her local slice of heaven, the aptly named Whisk + Measure.
TR (The Reader): How did you decide to switch careers and go out on a limb to open a bakery?
BB (Beth Brown): I had been talking about opening a bakery for a decade and finally had a moment about four years ago when I decided that I either needed to just do it or I needed to stop talking about it. I knew that I didn’t want to end up in retirement wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t been brave enough to do it. I didn’t want that regret. We only have this one life; we need to take some chances. I also knew I wasn’t getting any younger and it would only be more and more difficult to take on this adventure as my life became more complicated. [Plus], I loved being an actuary. There just aren’t as many delicious work products in the actuarial world as there are in baking.
TR: What is Whisk + Measure known for after being open for two years?
BB: We are known for being an all-from-scratch bakery and for our vegan, paleo and keto options. We also have dairy-free and gluten-free options.
TR: What are your most popular items?
BB: Our most popular item is the vegan apple pie bar. But we are also known for French Macarons, bear claws, vegan/gluten-free donuts and happiness bars. Plus cakes, but that seems so generic.
TR: Where does most of your traffic come from?
BB: A fair amount of our sales come from cake orders since we are one of the only from-scratch bakeries in Omaha and we make traditional, vegan, or vegan and gluten-free cakes. Those are hard to come by. We also sell a lot of coffee. Our coffee is sourced from Reboot Roasting out of Bellevue and is some of the best coffee in Omaha.
TR: How do you give back to the community?
BB: We participate in [the] TAGG [program] and love supporting our community by allowing the customers to direct our funds to the organization of their choice.
TR: Have you enjoyed being part of Omaha’s entrepreneurial community? And have you connected with other small-business owners?
BB: I have loved getting to know other local business owners and have found those relationships to be very important. I never imagined how vital it would be to have someone to speak to who understands the challenges of being a small-business owner. Many of them have become friends I can use as a sounding board for advice, lessons learned, and recommendations/references. Omaha is such a friendly and supportive city, which makes all the difference in the stressful world of small business.
TR: Why is it important to support small businesses?
BB: Small businesses are often the most innovative and adaptable. This means that as long as consumers are understanding that there will be limitations, then the small business can often partner with them to create new experiences and products. Small businesses also tend to keep their dollars local, which means more economic impact to the community. But first and foremost, small-business owners are your neighbors, friends and family. They want to bring unique and innovative things to their community and make it a better place. They are also without a doubt some of the most passionate people you will meet. Most people don’t put in the work and time it takes to run a small business if they don’t care about what they are doing.
TR: How did you choose your location?
BB: I wanted a space where the community could gather and spend time together, which meant that it needed character and comfort. We looked at many locations but knew that we wanted to be in West Omaha, so when we found a space with two full walls of windows I knew we were on to something.
TR: What can we expect from you in the future?
BB: We plan to continue developing a menu reflective of our community. We currently cater to vegan, paleo and keto diets, but hope to branch out into other diets which the community wants and needs. We also plan to continue introducing new and exciting menu items. Just today we created a new caramel pumpkin bar and two new keto cookies. They might just be my new favorite thing.
TR: Thanks so much for your time, Beth. We truly can’t wait to stop by again and sample all your new offerings.
We were lucky to visit W+M on a few occasions during research for this article. Our favorite menu items include the cranberry almond energy bites, which consist of peanut butter, cranberries, oats, chia seeds, flax, coconut and almonds. We also love the cold brew from aforementioned local roaster Reboot Roasting. The beans are single origin, roasted to order, small batch, specialty-grade goodness. Whisk + Measure earns extra points for its house-made coffee syrups, too. This time of year, we like to embrace our Inner Basic B and enjoy a skinny caramel latte.
Besides offering coffee and baked deliciousness daily, W+M is increasingly becoming known for its special events and programs. In summertime, it offers kids’ baking camps for ages 8 and up. And each month, it hosts baking classes for adults and kids. Coming Oct. 28 is an especially delectable offering, a Brownie Sundae popup partnership with local sweets purveyor Coneflower Creamery. Other popular workshops have included a guide to succulent cupcakes, how to make macarons, and parent and child gingerbread house decorating.
It’s clear that whatever your need, Whisk + Measure delivers a tasty and inventive solution. Check out this dynamic small business and be sure to say hi to Beth and her all-female team.