Trained French pastry chef and baker, Sandy Bierlein, owner of Sweet Sandy B’s in the historic shopping district in downtown Bay City, MI has been perfecting her special recipe for success since she was a little girl.
“It all begins with love and passion,” said Bierlein. “As a child I loved watching my mom bake, as I grew older baking was my passion.” When she was in college, Bierlein made it her mission to make the best chocolate chip cookies.
As her passion for baking intensified, she learned that although many people may have a favorite food, most everyone loved sweets. She also saw how sharing a homemade treat could bring about a smile and turn a bad day around. It was then that Bierlein decided to create a plan that would take her from the kitchen of her home to a busy downtown storefront.
To be successful, Bierlein knew she had to receive professional training and enrolled in the French Pastry School in Chicago where she learned from world renowned pastry chefs. After she graduated, Bierlein worked as a Pastry in Midland, MI while experimenting with her recipes at home. She has been selling her baked goods through word-of-mouth referrals and online sales at www.sweetsandyb.com.
When Bierlein was ready to rent her first commercial kitchen, she had no idea where to start. That’s when she began working with a certified business consultant from the SBA funded Small Business and Technology Development Center. “My consultant Deb Wieland was amazing to work with,” said Bierlein. “She asked the right questions and got me on the right path in moving my business forward.”
Bierlein also needed to fund her business and turned to the Grand Rapids-based Start Garden venture capital firm that provides seed money to entrepreneurs. Experienced advisors and online voters select two entrepreneurs each week to receive funding. Bierlein won the online vote and was awarded $5,000!
“I was so overwhelmed by this precious gift of money,” stated Bierlein. “I wanted to be sure to use it wisely and effectively!” She purchased her commercial refrigerator and paid for a professional branding package. She had just enough left over to put the finishing touches on her storefront in time for her grand opening on Sept. 1, 2012. Sweet Sandy B’s is a good old-fashioned neighborhood bakery with a retro style.
Bierlein supports her community by using local ingredients and fresh fruit from area orchards. “Everything is made fresh daily - not mass produced the night before,” said Bierlein. “I listen to my customers. I get to know them, their likes and dislikes, and make sweets that are customized for them!”
With the help of SBA, Bierlein has realized her dream of business success and plans to expand her product line to include more than just baked goods.