Hope Jones used to own a storefront bakery in Red Bank, New Jersey. She grew tired of the long hours, however, and decided to close up shop. After two years away from the industry, Jones realized that she couldn’t ignore her love of cookies, cakes, and pies. So she reopened her bakery online. Now, she runs Hope, Faith & Gluttony out of Long Island City. The Manhattan resident chatted recently about running a high-volume bakery almost entirely by herself.
So what do you do in Queens?
I bake here in LIC, and I manage some space that we rent out to other bakeries. I work in a couple of other kitchens. My clients range from movie studios to people I’ve known for 20 years. People call up and place orders, and I try to get the food there on time.
And you do all this by yourself?
I technically have freelancers every now and then, and if I have a big job, I’ll bring in an extra baker — but I dont have any full-time employees. It’s definitely interesting to bring in someone — especially when it turns out that they don’t know how to bake. I’ve had some bad experiences bringing extra people. At my kitchen in New Jersey, I had up to eight employees at a time. Now it’s just me, though.
How different is it working solo? Do you bake less?
I guess the volume would be about equal. I don’t do 10 cakes a weekend like I used to, but I might do four cakes during the week and bake cupcakes and things like that on a daily basis. It’s a different kind of business, because I’m waiting for people to send a note for an order rather than walk by.
What prompted the shift from a storefront bakery?
It took up all of my time. So I thought: “I’ll go online because I won’t have to be here all the time.” This is true, except for Christmas. I can do a lot of work remotely. If I have to drive somewhere, I can be on the phone. I have a BlackBerry, so I can check when orders come in, so I know whether I need to come in early or later.
How do you get everything done?
I prepare large amounts of cookie dough, so it’s ready to go when I have an order. So everything goes out fresh even though it’s not made by the batch. You’d be surprised what I’ve been able to pump out. Over the last two weeks, we’ve probably sent out over 30,000 cookies.
What do you make most frequently?
Sugar cookies, actually. The season right now is all about Christmas cookies and things like that. It’s tough to say, also, because a lot of my products are combos — a lot of my my most basic cookies. But the sugar isn’t a rolled sugar at that point: It’s just a ball that’s been dipped in sprinkles. So it’s very much a seasonal product.
Do you miss having a store?
The one fun thing I do miss with the storefront is that I don’t have an opportunity to test cakes on the public, like new flavors. You have to do it differently when there’s not someone there to taste things.
Now who are your guinea pigs?
Friends and family still. I play football — touch football — here in the city. Every now and then, they get to be the lucky recipients of my goofs.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 12, 2011