I apologize in advance for making you drool, but I’m pretty sure that will be the outcome after you read today’s Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx interview. “Why,” you ask? Well, today’s interview is with Jenna Park, one part of the husband and wife team behind the confectionery shop of Whimsy & Spice (the other part of the team is Mark Sopchak). And along with my interview I share a LOT of pics of their sweet delights. I really am sorry, but I just couldn’t resist. Their goodies look scrumptious and their story is pretty interesting as well. Besides, you should treat yourself. 😉
1. What’s the name of your business, what do create and sell and how did you get your start?
We’re an artisan bakery based in Brooklyn, NY called Whimsy & Spice. We don’t have a storefront, but sell
online, through retailers in NY, and at the Brooklyn Flea and other local markets. Our story is one of those recession stories – where an unexpected lay off resulted in an opportunity to start a business idea that we tossed around for years. It was also born from necessity as we needed to bring in income immediately because we have 2 small children and a mortgage in crazy expensive NYC. I freelance fairly steadily as an art director and designer, but we were suddenly without a reliable weekly income or health insurance. It was scary, but we pulled it together by ourselves in a short amount of time and opened for business 2 months later. It’s been almost 2 years and Mark, my husband and the baker in this operation, finally realized his fantasies about leaving the restaurant industry where he had been working as a cook and Pastry Chef in NY for 12 years.
2. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at?
I read a bunch of blogs but I tend to gravitate towards ones that are more personal: Door Sixteeen, For me, For you, Sandra Juto, among others. I must confess that I don’t read magazines anymore and the ones I did have folded (like Domino and ID Magazine to name just 2). I guess in an effort to save money and space I’ve adjusted to reading most content online over the years. As for shopping, I try to support the smaller shops in our neighborhood as well as the sellers on etsy (some recent purchases came from valhallabrooklyn and AMradio), but I also shop at all the usual suspects – Jcrew, Anthropologie, etc.
3. Do you have a favorite comfort food and if so, why? Do you have a recipe you can share?
It may not sound very “comfort food-y”, but I love sushi. That and a good bowl of ramen are my comfort foods. We do have recipes we can share – we post them on our blog.
4. Share something you’ve learned as an adult that you wish you knew as a kid?
I really wish someone taught me the importance of saving money at an early age, but my parents came from a generation who survived a war and grew up poor. They weren’t able to start saving money themselves until well after my brother and I finished college so I didn’t have financial role models in that respect. What I did learn from them is to be resilient during hard times and to be courageous enough to strike out on my own, employment wise.
5. What three things would you want to be able to have if you were on a deserted island?Beyond the basics of survival.
Does internet access count? At this point, I can’t live without it! I am an obsessive email-checker and I realize that there is this small movement where the former email obsessed are really examining and changing their habits, for the better. I am not there yet. And I guess if I’m counting internet access I’ll need to say my computer and my camera, because you know, if I was stuck on a deserted island, I’ll probably want to blog about it.
6. What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst?
Obviously sending cookies and marshmallows to people all over the country – that’s pretty cool. And talking about the challenges of being a dual self employed household with other people who are seeking out advice and inspiration – that’s increasingly becoming one of the best things about what I do. The worst? Dealing with the instability of being a dual self employed household. Oh, and self funded health insurance. And also maybe dealing with the United States Post Office.
7. What’s new or in the works?
We just came out with a few new products for Valentine’s Day, but longish term plans include adding spice mixtures (actually, we had planned that from the start of the business but for some reason it is total procrastination with that one) and hopefully some non-food products under out brand, though that is still in the planning phase. Other than that, more sugar, butter and sugar!