Posted by: njbrown | April 17, 2010

Nancy J. Brown-ies?


April 17, 2010

As retirement is now only about six weeks away, Julia’s question, “What will I do?” echos more loudly in my head each day.  Perhaps by heavenly “coincidence,” Bobby Flay’s Throwdown last week was with the Vermont Brownie Company founders – two young women friends – and today on CNN, there was a video of a Rhode Island man who walked away from years in the mortgage business to start a company selling his grandmother’s candy made from pretzel sticks, nuts, raisins and chocolate to retailers including Whole Foods.  Both operations began without business plans (apparently), and have rapidly become very successful.  Brownies seem a very manageable product – simple to make, not needing extensive and time-consuming decoration, and with a broad appeal.  My twist would be gourmet vegan brownies.  The Vermont Brownie Company has a Chevre brownie that is selling like, well, not hotcakes, but wildly popular brownies.  Vegan brownies, of course, would not contain cheese, but could contain cherries, peanut butter, mint or creme de menthe, orange, etc., etc.  More ideas keep popping into my head – usually during the night when I should be sleeping. 

Since I don’t want retirement to be busier or more stressful than my career has been, baking only for retailers and starting small seems to make sense.  I ran the idea by the owner of our local coffee pub, and he is willing to talk with his head office about doing it as a pilot project.  His location is very near our local college, and he says there is a big demand for vegan products that he currently can’t meet.  This weekend, I want to do some test batches of various brownie flavors to see if I can make something really good that will appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.  I checked with our local health department, and it shouldn’t be a problem.  Business name, packaging, logo and so forth are a bigger challenge.  It was very encouraging, though, to see the Vermont ladies using a very small hand plastic bag sealer, and the Rhode Island Rocks staff being as high-tech as grandma was (in other words, no tech).  The Vermont Brownie Company now makes a thousand brownies a day after eighteen months of operation.  If I can make a couple hundred a week, I will be happy.

Seeing Julie and Julia last August has sent me on a completely unexpected journey.  I didn’t even know what a blog was, and certainly never, ever expected to be contemplating a second career in food. 

We’ll see…

Nancy

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