A student combined his passions for people and creation to start his own baking business. Since he introduced it to his network at UTD, he has been growing its reach by collaborating with various student organizations on campus.
Smiles Bakery is a pop-up bakery business started by entrepreneurship and marketing junior Andrew Blodgett. Since establishing his business in the summer of 2016, Blodgett has been selling fresh baked goods to customers from around the metroplex, as well as UTD students.
Blodgett said his mother inspired him to start his business. His family had a bread business called Family Bread Basket, and he and his brother would help out by washing dishes and delivering baked goods.
“We were always getting really good food to eat and also getting really inspired by the process of how you can make food,” Blodgett said. “When she kind of stopped doing the bread business thing, I was like, ‘If I were to start a business, this would be a good way to get into it.’”
Blodgett said another reason behind his business was his love for building things.
“Growing up, I always had a passion for making things, whether it’s building Legos or planting a garden or making notebooks,” he said. “It’s cool to see something grow or be built.”
With his new business established, he started selling at a local farmers market near White Rock Lake in Dallas.
“I remember very distinctly my first customer, and when she bought my loaf of bread, I was just feeling like, ‘Woah, I made this, and she is paying money that she earned,’” Blodgett said. “And I also liked seeing people’s reactions after trying out my samples.”
Blodgett said that as he got more customers at the farmers market, he started adding more variety to his baked goods.
“Every time I would add a new product, I would learn a lot from the process of buying ingredients and doing inventory, pricing packaging,” Blodgett said.
Blodgett said he brought Smiles Bakery to UTD as a part of his Startup Launch I course in hopes of further growing its reach.
“I was thinking about stopping Smiles Bakery, because I thought it wasn’t getting anywhere since I was selling at the same farmers market, because it’s pretty hard to build a strong customer base there,” Blodgett said. “I started selling on campus. I already knew a lot of people here, I was already an Orientation Leader, I had played rugby my freshman year and I had connections through my brothers as well because they both came here before me. ”
Blodgett said he had some apprehension about bringing his business to campus and showing it to those he knew.
“It was kind of scary, being like, ‘What are people going to think? Is it going to be welcomed here?’” he said. “But the amount of support that I was met with was so cool and everyone was super excited about it and wanted to try and buy things.”
Smiles Bakery collaborates with student organizations on campus to help them with fundraising efforts.
“The best event is when it’s win-win,” Blodgett said. “We can partner with another organization, and they can grow their reach and bring their people, so it helps us, and it also helps them.”
Although he hasn’t sold his baked goods at farmers markets since last December, Blodgett said he made the right decision because of the connections his business is helping to form among students.
“Our vision isn’t just selling baked goods,” Blodgett said. “It’s spreading positivity and love through baked goods and a wholesome community of students coming together.”