In Conversation with Dana Pollack of Dana’s Bakery

Dana Pollack_Blog Header

Can you describe Dana’s Bakery in a few words?

“Not your ordinary…” We like to color outside the lines and put our own fun unique twist on everything we touch!

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I was working as a photo editor (at Muscle & Fitness magazine) and just was not feeling it.  I had always loved baking but never thought about doing it for a living.  I decided to quit my job, enroll in culinary school and while in school, I fell in love with french macarons. Although macs were becoming more popular in the states they were the same french flavors, no matter who was selling them. I decided I needed to make them. But in FUN American flavors that actually appealed to me. And the rest is history… 

You are a classically trained chef, having studied fine baking and the pastry arts at NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education. What is a lesson you learned during your studies that is still useful today? And in contrast, what is a lesson you learned outside of school that has proved essential?

In school, you learn technical skills and you’re educated on the history of the food you’re making but you don’t learn real life kitchen skills. Some things just come with time, and real life experiences. ICE is an incredible program and I learned all the necessary things one would need to know to be a pastry magician HOWEVER it wasn’t until i was working in restaurants that I learned about the vital stuff.  Speed,  momentum, ordering, Back of house, service vs prep, kitchen burns, etc. From working in restaurants i quickly realized that it was not the path i wanted to take with my new culinary training. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and doing my own thing was always just sort of a viable option for me. I decided it was time, I wanted to make the rules. 

Although my father and grandparents owned their own businesses, I had NO idea what it really entailed. The amount of work it takes to get it off the ground, and then even more so to keep it running (successfully). If i had know what I do now, maybe i would have stayed in the kitchens 😉 (just kidding, JUST KIDDING!!)

Dana’s Bakery specializes in French macarons, but gives them a unique twist with flavors such as S’mores and Fruity Cereal. What drew you to macarons in the first place?

I fell in love with macarons for their distinct texture and cute looks. The photo editor in my loved their physical appeal.  I know that doesnt make sense, how can a “cookie” be “cute”.  But it is! I was hooked and intrigued before I even tried one. 

How was Dana’s Bakery first received by the public? How did you get the word out?

In 2012, when I launched the bakery I was one of the first ever bakeries doing only online D2C sales. It made sense for me, since I had no business partner or financial backing i Had to be scrappy and start in the most cost efficient way possible.  Being online allowed me to keep my overhead low and grow organically as the sales started coming in. I offered local NYC delivery, people would order online, and I would personally deliver it to them.

Although we didn’t have a storefront, and we weren’t paying for online advertising I DID have social media (which was FREE!) and my photo skills from my past life.  I shot all my food like I would a sexy still life bottle of perfume. People really resonated with the images, the familiar flavor profiles (who doesn’t love Red Velvet or S’mores) and started requesting nationwide delivery.  All of a sudden I had a business.  I figured out logistics of shipping, how to scale the business without sacrificing the quality. What started as a 1 woman opp, is now 40+ employees and growing every year.  Its WILD.

What is a piece of advice you wish you had known before you opened your business?

Surround yourself with trustworthy people who do their tasks better than you. When you get to a certain point, your business becomes its own person. This isn’t about you or your ego, its about your team,  your business being the best that it can be, and making sure that your company not only grows but thrives.  

Although it’s important to be hands on, and versed in all aspects of your business, as you grow you physically and mentally cannot do it all. Be everywhere at the same time. As entrepreneurs its hard to let go, but letting go doesn’t mean that you are giving up control completely. It means you are building your army so you can become stronger as a whole.

Oh and… “Don’t work harder, work smarter”. There are only so many hours in a day 😉

What is a little known fact that might surprise us about the day to day of running Dana’s Bakery?

There arent many hidden fun facts, I wear my heart on my sleeve and show so much of what we do and who we all are on our social media. So lots of fun, but not hidden! I think this helps customers connect, and get to know the people behind the brand. Its so important!! 

That being said, we do have a new employee of the month program that i’m really excited about.  We award one star per day for exceptional work. Whoever gets the most stars gets their own parking spot, a paid day off, and a print out of their face with a HUGE sign that says EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH for all to see when someone enters the bakery. 

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn?

GROWTH. If i’m being honest, I face new challenges everyday.  In the beginning, starting a business with no experience was the biggest challenge. I had NO idea what I was doing. Faking it till i made it, and figuring things out as it came. As we grew, there would be more challenges.  Product development, HR, logistical issues, growth retention, I mean when does it end? It just doesnt. When you’re stressed out it’s hard to view these things as opportunities. But they are. They are little stepping stones, getting you from point A to B as your company continues to grow. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Hands down, my two beautiful daughters, Leni (4) and Ella (1).  (spoken like a true Mom, no?)

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

We were all personally and professionally impacted by Covid-19. I will never forget the feeling of the unknown of what was going on and what was going to happen when it all started. I think that most D2C (online) brands had a surge in sales from everyone being home and ordering online. We were very fortunate to have experienced this.  Because we are an online food company, we are considered essential and could continue to operate at full capacity. Beginning of March I thought I was going to need to let people go to stay afloat, however we ended up hiring more people because we could not keep up with the demand.  

What is next for Dana’s Bakery? Can you share some exciting new flavors or innovations you have in the pipeline?

So many exciting things to come!! In addition to expanding the product line, I have a cookbook coming out in Spring 2021 (its available for pre-order) . We are also launching our proprietary blend of Gluten Free flour and it will be sold online and in stores nationwide. 

What advice can you offer to budding entrepreneurs/female founders who are trying to launch their own bakery?

No more excuses. You don’t need to go to business school to start your own business. You don’t always need capital or partners to get things off the ground.  You don’t ALWAYS need a business plan. An idea with a few simple stepping stone goals will take you so much further than you think.  Yes you need some type of plan / direction when getting started. However I see so many people get so hung up on the business plan that they spend more time working on the plan than the actual business itself.  

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you? 

Being comfortable and confident. Living everyday loving what you do is empowering and is a gift I don’t take for granted.

For more insights into Dana’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, check out her episode here!


Share it!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

Randi Shinder on how SBLA explores the intersection of science and beauty to create skincare products that address universal aging concerns

Describe your business in a few words? SBLA uses the intersection of science and beauty to create skincare products that address universal aging concerns. The non-invasive wand-delivery-system skincare line is clinically proven to build collagen, smooth, lift and tighten the skin while targeting the most fragile areas of the face and neck to deliver a…

How Heather Ouida and her co-founders are amplifying women’s voices in the gaming industry through the*gameHERs

Describe your business in a few words? The*gameHERs is a media platform and social networking community that connects, supports and amplifies women who game and who work in the gaming industry. Our mission is to advance the role, voice, image, and power of all women, femme-identifying and non-binary gamers who are comfortable in spaces that…

Creating a smarter swaddle with Hindi Zeidman through her company The Ollie World

Describe your business in a few words? It all started with an amazing infant named Oliver. I was a single foster parent and he was my foster son. When he came to me he was on the verge of being labeled failure-to-thrive because he struggled with the basics of eating and sleeping. He was also…

Jen Fuller on how Etta Loves delivers both babies’ cognitive development and calmness for parents through uniquely-designed baby products

Describe your business in a few words? Etta Loves baby essentials are uniquely designed with science to support babies’ visual and cognitive development, delivering wonder for babies and calm for parents in the everyday. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I had an idea that I couldn’t ignore when my…

How Jessica Jackson is achieving better sleep for both parents and their babies through The Mookabee Swaddle

Describe your business in a few words? The Mookabee Swaddle is committed to helping babies (and ultimately their parents!) achieve better sleep by utilizing the proven power of a parent’s scent. 10% of all profits are donated to Saving Mothers- a non profit dedicated to improving maternal health worldwide. What made you take the leap…

Stacie Stanley on empowering women through her swimwear brand STAYkini™

Describe your business in a few words? STAYkini™ is a swimwear revolution created to empower women through high-quality, backless, strapless swimwear that lets us move freely and soak up the sun while avoiding unwanted tan lines and accidental exposure. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I had the idea for…

Healing Trauma and Getting In Touch With Your Power with Kimberly Ann Johnson, Author of Call Of The Wild

What made you take the leap to start your own business? I’ve always worked for myself (beside when I waited tables and a brief foray into public school teaching). But I took the leap from a calling to a career when I became a mother. What was your background prior to starting your own business?…

How Nicole Boyd used her maternity leave to create Prept, a personal style and beauty help service delivered to consumers virtually so that everyone can feel Prept

Describe your business in a few words? Prept is an on-demand style + beauty concierge that matches women in need of style/beauty help to experts that can help in an affordable, personalized, and digital way. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Having TIME OFF from my corporate job while on…

Daniela Schiliro & Heather Kamback on co-founding inBodi Swim, a swimwear brand inspired by different places of the world the duo has traveled together

Describe your business in a few words? Each collection of inBodi Swim has been thoughtfully created based on different places around the world that we’ve been fortunate enough to see and experience. Along with the environments, colors, textures, cultures of each place; we are most inspired by the unique beauty that each and every woman…

Women Making Bold Moves In Business

Your next read: Ali Kriegsman, co-founder of Bulletin, has released her debut book How To Build A Goddamn Empire. We can’t wait to check it out!  🎉 An exciting partnership: Rocksbox, founded by Meaghan Rose, was acquired by Signet Jewelers, making their $1B service business goal that much closer. 🎉 Top sellers: The Jills Zeder Group, a women-led…

Jasmine Carter on how her own obsession for engagement rings led her to create Balacia, a custom bridal jewelry brand that allows shoppers to create the engagement and wedding rings of their dreams

Describe your business in a few words? Balacia is a custom bridal jewelry brand allowing shoppers to create the engagement and wedding rings of their dreams within their budget. We use diamonds, moissanite, and gemstones so buyers have endless options for colors, shapes, and sizes for their rings. In addition to rings, we also make…

How Julianne Fraser is creating meaningful dialogues with Dialogue New York, a global digital marketing consultancy that specializes in influencer marketing

Describe your business in a few words? Dialogue New York is a global digital marketing consultancy, that specializes in building influencer marketing strategies for luxury and lifestyle brands. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Over the last decade, I’ve watched as the Wild, Wild West of Influencer Marketing took shape,…

Tiffany Buzzatto on pioneering unbottled, undiluted, and uncomplicated slow beauty with her brand DEW MIGHTY

Describe DEW MIGHTY in a few words? We are pioneering unbottled, undiluted, and uncomplicated slow beauty. We plan to always deliver effective skin care products without fillers, sans water, free of nasty ingredients, and without plastic or trashy packaging to always USE LESS. DEW MORE™ What made you take the leap to start your own…

Molly Fienning on how Red Clay turned her into a hot sauce fanatic and CEO

Describe your business in a few words? Red Clay is a cold-pressed, made-for-foodies hot sauce and hot honey brand, named “Tabasco for the 21st century” by Food and Wine Magazine and “a hot honey to elevate your meal” by The New York Times. Crafted by a talented Southern chef, we focus on delicious flavor, sustainably-sourced…

Jhoanna Marissa, founder of WILLA Creative Agency, on creating her dream women-led digital creative agency in the fashion and lifestyle space

Describe WILLA Creative Agency in a few words? A digital-first creative agency working with beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Not being able to find my dream job. I wanted to work in the digital e-commerce space specifically in beauty and fashion. And back when…