Can you imagine leaving behind a successful law career to open a bakery? Many dream of it, but few actually make the leap.
Anne Rucker - founder of Bogarts doughnuts, did just that. We sat down with Anne to learn more about her journey, and ended up with a powerful conversation about redefining success, believing in yourself and following your heart.
How did your upbringing influence or prepare your decision to start your own business?
“I did all the right things, but I never fell in love with Law. I never felt that deep passion for it, like I assumed I would. We are taught that if you work hard at something, you get the grades and the job offers, you will succeed… it's a societal and cultural thing - you find a steady good job, you meet someone, you start a family, it’s the pie in the sky goal especially when you’re young and in college wanting to be a “real adult”. I definitely fell into that trap.
"It was the idea of being happy in my life and thinking if I never take the risk, if I never try, then I will never know."
What made you make the decision to give up your law career?
"For me, it was very gradual. My mindset was more about "if I don’t try this I will regret it" and that was a very scary thought, because I had a wonderful upbringing, I grew up thinking I could do whatever I wanted, you can change the world, and the older I got not doing that was hard for me. It was the idea of being happy in my life and thinking if I never take this risk, if I never try, then I will never know.
The doughnuts evolved over years. In law school, I was looking for a creative outlet so I started a food blog. I was testing recipes like a mad person which is one of my favorite things to do. I found so much joy in it and I began to think: “I can do something with this”, but even then I didn’t take it seriously as there were so many food blogs out there."
Then, a friend suggested that I apply for a farmer’s market slot. That seemed doable, so I contacted everyone on the board of the farmers market and got accepted, even though the deadline had passed. I had two markets each weekend - I wouldn’t sleep…. I was tired but loved every minute of what it was. And that became the turning point - my husband saw that I loved it and people were buying my products. We decided to continue for three years and if it was still going well, then we'd look for a little shop. When the shop space opened up, we knew it was the right move.
Managing a fast-growing business must get pretty stressful. On the not-so-great days, how do you keep yourself positive?
If I am having a challenging day, it's never about the doughnuts. With doughnuts, my brain goes to a different place. I try to get at least two days a week in the kitchen, because I know that I may go into it feeling stressed but I leave feeling calm. This is what it’s about, this is why I am here. I get so much personal enjoyment from it, and it brings it back to what I wanted it to be.
The main thing to be true to yourself and your idea. The minute you try to be too many things to people, you can’t focus. You’re already in this place of feeling insecure, scared and feeling like you have to succeed because it’s a risk, but it’s a mistake to wear too many hats, because you can’t show your audience what you’re great at. Instead, what you’re doing is saying this is what I love, but hey, I’m desperate ..and that's when you’re not going to feel your best or show your best work."
You’re a mum of one (soon to be two!) and a woman in an industry that is historically dominated by men. How has support from other women helped you?
When I talk with women, I feel so energized, like there is so much opportunity. You can read all of these self-help books and see businesswomen making billions of dollars, but when you have a women sitting next to you talking about real experiences - because none of this is easy - when you have someone there to talk to about it, when you can call when you feel discouraged or for advice, that is huge!
Bogarts now has two locations in Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis. Find out more (and most importantly, pre-order those ganache doughnuts) here.