Sweet Success

I thought I would start off my blog with an article I wrote for Milligan College on a recent graduate, Autumn Pruitt, opening her own bakery. Check out her website (www.blissbakery.com) to see some mouthwatering treats!

The article and its beautiful layout (courtesy of Art Brown) can be seen at here.

Sweet Success
by Tiffany Weinbender

When it comes to successfully beating the current economic climate, 23-year-old Autumn (Hardy ’09) Pruitt, seems to have found the recipe for success. When Pruitt arrived at Milligan as a freshman, her love of baking was nothing more than an enjoyable pastime. Now, equipped with a business degree and a liberal arts education, Pruitt has turned her passion into a reality.

Pruitt and her husband, Luke, recently purchased the former Bickford Bakery in Omaha, Nebraska. On May 1, 2010, with a new name and a bright future ahead, Bliss Old Market Bakery opened its doors releasing the smell of fresh pastries into the Eastern Nebraska air. Since the grand opening, Pruitt has been baking relentlessly to facilitate the high demand for her tasty sweets.

As a Christian institution that offers a liberal arts education, Milligan was the natural choice for Pruitt, who graduated in the spring of 2009 with a double major in humanities and business with an emphasis in management. Pruitt applied every aspect of her Milligan education to turn her business into a reality. She even used her senior humanities project as an opportunity to develop the business plan for Bliss Old Market Bakery. The project served as the capstone of both her humanities and business majors.

“So much of the confidence I had in approaching the business plan for the bakery can be attributed to the painstaking process of writing one as a student with the guidance of my project advisers: Dr. Heather Hoover, Dr. Phil Kenneson and Dr. David Campbell,” said Pruitt. “I felt like I had the tested tools to tackle the process here in Omaha after going through a similar process in the classroom.”

Pruitt credits much of her success to the format of the business program and the way each class builds on those before. “My humanities 490 project was extremely helpful, but I wouldn’t have been prepared for that project, or my new endeavor, had I not had the less glamorous classes like accounting, business law, corporate finance and marketing, among others.”

Pruitt’s dream of opening her own bakery and coffeehouse began at the age of 19, although her love of baking goes back much further. In fact, she can’t remember a time when she didn’t love baking with her family. Pruitt acquired her baking expertise from her mother and began adding to her recipe collection weekly after graduating high school. Pruitt continues to experiment with ingredients and add her own personal recipes to the bakery’s recipe box.

As for the current economic climate, Pruitt believes that despite the downturn, this is a great time in her life to fully pour herself into her dream. Although Pruitt did not expect to open her business this soon, she felt the opportunity was simply too good to pass. She completed extensive market research on Omaha’s growing industry and more specifically the culture and climate of the downtown area, not least of which was obtaining a job in the bakery long before any talk of buying it. In doing so, she was able to learn about the equipment, recipes and tricks of the trade before committing to the process. It only took one day for her to realize that she didn’t just like the idea of owning a bakery but fell head over heels for it.

Pruitt is well aware of the hardships that come to small business owners, but she remains confident that her education, skills and enthusiasm will make this venture a success.

“The life of an entrepreneur sounds glamorous sometimes, but unless you are really passionate about the industry and have had a chance to wrap your mind around the immense amount of time it will require, you will not be satisfied. That being said, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your dream realized and to have the opportunity to nurture its growth” said Pruitt.

Pruitt is an ideal example of how a liberal arts college like Milligan equips individuals to successfully reach their personal and professional goals. The college’s emphasis on applying faith to every facet of the world has impacted the way Pruitt runs her business.

“Milligan has reinforced the fact that you don’t need a religious title to be a servant leader or to minister. I treat people with respect. I provide my employee with a steady income and a healthy work environment. I listen to customers’ problems and we have become a part of each others’ daily lives. I try to live life with integrity and good character and to take a genuine interest in others,” said Pruitt. “Selling delicious baked goods is a good way to come in contact with my neighbors and develop a relationship with people I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to meet.”