Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We discovered Moni Yael Garcia by happy universal chance. While stumbling through the internet we landed on an amazing site called Real Heroines and were immediately mesmerized. The graphics, the stories, the layout – everything captured our attention and we needed to know who the mastermind behind it was. We are excited to introduce Moni Yael Garcia, freelance designer, illustrator, and entrepreneur extraordinaire! From web design, to photography, to mobile, to identity development, Moni does it all (and makes it look effortless!). We asked Moni to describe her work as a self-starter and where her life and creative inspiration comes from.

Name: Moni Yael Garcia
Occupation: Freelance Designer and Illustrator
Age: 27
Education: University of Texas at Austin
Follow Moni: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Dribbble

Carpe juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Moni Yael Garcia: Enjoying your time as an individual where responsibilities are few and self exploration leads to personal epiphanies.

 CJ: What originally drew you to design and illustration?

MYG: I’ve always had an interest in art and drawing. Even before kindergarten I would sculpt roses out of Play-Doh and dinosaurs out of aluminum foil. I really enjoyed experimenting with colors and drawing what I saw in picture books. I found these things relaxing and the only way to accurately understand myself and the world around me. I never considered design or illustration as a sustainable form of living. I went through various career choices from grade school to high school, and becoming an artist was never something I considered possible. Even though both my parents are creative individuals their careers have followed more traditional paths. Luckily, I came across the “graphic designer” occupation during a career research project for my 11th grade BCIS class. That’s when all my tension on choosing a career dissipated, and I finally had a direction I could wholeheartedly follow.

CJ: After graduating from University of Texas in Austin you struggled to find footing in the professional world – what made you decide to invest your time into late night tutorials and, in hindsight, was it worth it?

MYG: Late night tutorials were the only thing that kept me sane after graduating from UT. It was such a tough time for me. I couldn’t find a job for almost a year due to the competitive nature of the industry and the recession. The majority of places were under a hiring freeze and if they were looking for new employees, having no experience in the field just didn’t cut it. I only had one real internships under my belt and my skill level was bare minimum. Don’t get me wrong, my education in the University of Texas Design Program helped me immensely and gave me an understanding of design, the importance of concepts and the creative process. However, I needed more experience and a chance to level up my abilities as a designer. I actually treasure these obstacles now. They drove me to push through, take initiative, and reevaluate my goals.

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CJ: What was the main trigger that made you realize that the corporate environment wasn’t for you?

MYG: I would say the differences in our creative process. The pay was great, and the hours were predictable, but I found myself constantly frustrated in the way things were approached. Then after several months of trying to make it work I had a heart to heart with myself. Would I be happy working there for the next five years — heck even two? Did I see myself growing into the designer I wanted to be or would I fall into complacency? Would it be okay to go to a job that I would eventually come to hate every day? I saw no progress in site and that’s when I decided to make a change professionally.

CJ: What inspired you to create a personal website, and how has that affected you professionally?

MYG: The reason I decided to create my own personal website instead of using a standard template was because I felt it necessary. I wanted to showcase my work, creative skills, and personal story in an unconventional manner. I was ready to step out of my current situation and become a full-time freelancer. It was definitely a challenge filled with stress during the whole process, but ultimately I knew it would lead to my new identity. I strongly encourage all creatives to have their own website, or at least some form of a digital portfolio where they have the ability to showcase their own work. Behance, Cargo Collective, and WordPress are great places to start if developing your own custom website from scratch isn’t possible.

CJ: Can you please tell us more about your volunteerism work with the Boys and Girls Club Holthouse?

MYG: Well, for a couple of years I had the opportunity to share my Fridays with a group of 7 to 11 year olds at one of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. I wanted to make the most out of my visits with these kids, so we set up “Club Tech”, in which we covered business, art, design, programming, and robotics. Basically everything I learned during and after college. I wholeheartedly believe it’s important to give back to others who may not have certain opportunities or resources available to them due to circumstances out of our control. Exposing younger generations to these subjects early in their development sets them up for success. I really tried to create a curriculum that encouraged creativity and problem solving. At times it was difficult to motivate them through a project though, since they already had a long week of school, but they were real troopers. Some of our favorite activities were, creating business cards for their fictional business, building real working cardboard robots, 3D printing figurines, and designing their own computer game. As long as I was able to open up a new world for one of those kids, I’m happy.

CJ: What advice would you give to younger artists/designers/illustrators who are still studying their craft?

MYG:  Five things. 1) Don’t overlook the history of your profession. It’s always a good idea to study the basics and build a strong foundation. 2) Dissect the world around you and don’t be afraid to recreate work you find inspiring. (Just don’t claim it as your own!) 3) Explore different concepts and techniques that spark your interest by jotting them down and finessing them through whatever medium necessary. 4) The more you make the more you learn. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re in a competitive field, but nobody starts awesome. You need time to develop your skills and even find your passion. 5) Posting your process on a social media outlet is a great way to document your journey and can even help you land possible internships or jobs.

I think if you keep these things in mind you’ll be able to find your own voice and make great things.

CJ: How do you create and maintain a work-life balance?

MYG: Honestly, I’m still working on that. As a sole proprietor it’s up to you to find work, manage clients, execute projects, and develop your business. It can be stressful and rewarding at the sametime. My personal time almost always relates to my business time, though indirectly. Whether it be daily exercise to get my creative juices flowing, hiking expeditions as a form of self reflection, designing products for my online shop that require a more personal approach, and even sleeping to work through mental blocks. I like to use this time as fuel for what I do and want to accomplish. As I see it, let the way you live your life dictate how you approach your work.

CJ: As a self-starter, how do you keep yourself on-track with goals and deadlines?

MYG: Having a scattered “To-Do” list with no unforeseen end can be daunting. That’s why I’ve switched over to organize my priorities with a project checklist where I have the flexibility to assign daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. I plan out all my client work and personal projects in Producteev, a free online management software, and move on to display my weekly and daily tasks throughout my workspace. I’m a very visual person so seeing things I have to accomplish outside of the screen and on my whiteboardand post-it notes keeps me focused. Overall this process allows me to change between projects and stay productive when I’m burnt out with one in particular.

Moni Garcia QsCJ: Where did your love for women’s rights come from?

MYG: I can’t really pin point where my strong interest for women’s rights came from, but I’ve always been fond of encouraging others to reach their full potential, whether they be women, men, boys or girls. We’re all human and treating someone poorly due to gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability, or social status is baffling. Equality encourages a future of strong innovative thinkers and leaders, better economy, more creativity — not wanting everyone to be equal is just a stupid outlook.

CJ: How do you strive for equality in your everyday life?

MYG: Innately we all yearn for personal equality and acceptance. However, a constant barrage of negative comments and imagery can distort anyone’s understanding on how to treat others and even themselves. Personally, I stay true to my own convictions and openly express my concerns on issues that impede equality. Education on the subject is extremely important and in most cases allows people to reevaluate stereotypes they perceived as true. That’s why on August 26th my partner and I launched Real Heroines: an on going web project that compiles notable women who cultivated their minds and overcame adversity by defying social conventions. Through this site we hope to inspire female empowerment within men, women, boys and girls, from the action of their predecessors, so we can all move beyond gender stereotypes and grow as people. Education and an open mind brings awareness on equality, or any issue, really.

CJ: Growing up you were raised in a household that provided you with two different cultures – how did those experiences shape who you are as an adult?

MYG: I value knowledge and education and have a strong work ethic, but that’s more from being raised by a teacher and an engineer than being a second-generation Mexican-American. Growing up bilingual made me create a sort of pidgin involving a mixture of words and sound effects to express myself. Being the product of two cultures provides a perspective on problem-solving that neither culture might have on their own.

CJ: What is your favorite way that technology has changed over the past five years?

MYG: We’ve refined technology for so long that it’s much more accessible to individuals rather than only large corporations. This accessibility allows us to further integrate it into our society. An individual can now use technology to create something they’ve imagined with a degree of polish that used to only be possible with a team of people or large-scale machinery. 3D printing is a great example. And the whole thing is cyclical. The more we adopt, the more we refine, which in turn integrates it further into society.

CJ: What advice would you give to your eighteen-year-old self?

MYG: Take risks, stop waiting! Allowing your school curriculum to dictate your every move will only hinder your growth. Take the initiative to apply for internships, seek mentors, and invest in personal projects. These experiences will feed your creativity and raise your skill level ten fold before you graduate from college. Welcome obstacles that come your way and then kick them in the shins!

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Image: Courtesy of Moni Yael Garcia

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We met up with Shavanna Miller, the Co-Founder and CEO of Bloompop, earlier this fall in a coffee shop in the middle of bustling downtown Washington, D.C. Having grown up in the area, Shavanna knew the in’s and out’s of the metropolitan streets and kindly helped point lost passerbys in the right direction. It’s no wonder that she now runs an online marketplace that connects consumers with the best local florists across the country (think ‘Etsy for flowers’) – she is a natural community builder. Apart from providing beautiful flowers and an incredibly easy and enjoyable browsing and purchasing experience, Bloompop’s true success is in helping small businesses and consumers build a stronger community network.

Shavanna graciously shares her career trajectory, how she stays organized, and why she ultimately decided to come back to D.C. after having lived in so many great cities. This entrepreneur is making the world a better place one bouquet at a time, and we’re so excited to share her interview and introduce the face behind the flowers.

Name: Shavanna Miller
Occupation: Co-Founder/CEO, Bloompop
Age: 29
Education: The German School of Washington D.C.,B.S. in Environmental Science and Film Studies from Columbia University, London School of Economics and Political Science
Follow Shavanna: Facebook | Twitter |LinkedIn
Follow Bloompop: Bloompop | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Shavanna Miller: One thing I’ve tried to do is always say yes to opportunities. Whenever I’ve had to make a decision on something that could be important – whether its deciding to take a new job, making a leap into entrepreneurship, taking on additional work for a committee, or even helping someone else out – I’ve never regretted taking those opportunities – even if not everything pans out. There are a few times I’ve regretted not taking them for some reason or another, and that kind of regret is much worse. So my definition of Seizing Your Youth would be to act rationally about the opportunities you might take, but to ultimately take those opportunities, especially early on.

CJ: You studied film and environmental science at Columbia University – How did you decide what to study?

SM: Those were two topics I really loved on a personal level. For a while I thought that I was going to be working in film so a lot of my internships in school were related to that. I worked at a production company and an agency for actors. Those experiences were very fun and I still have many friends working in that industry. But somewhere along the lines I realized it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. The environmental side of things was a personal interest that I’ve always had. When I was growing up I raised and bred aquarium fish. My parent’s basement was filled with aquariums; I think I had 30 aquariums or so when I left for college. That was a lot of fun and it was how I learned about basic genetics, water quality, etc. I probably started that in the fifth grade and it’s something I hope to get back to when I have the space again.

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CJ: What did you do after you finished studying at the London School of Economics and Political science?

SM: When I finished graduate school I went back to New York. I started my career at Meetup, which was a great introduction to both the startup and tech worlds. It was smaller then than it is now, so I really had a chance to interact with every department. Eventually I left Meetup to go to Rosetta Stone in Washington, D.C., which was a fantastic experience as well and is also a great company. I was promoted there to ultimately be the head of web sales for the US consumer side of the business. I was responsible for a huge part of the company’s global annual sales – definitely a big, exciting thing to have on your shoulders. I had an amazing team there and we did everything from social marketing, to managing email and paid search platforms, to working with affiliates, you name it – basically anything related to digital sales. I managed a team of seven people who each had their own specializations. We were a very young, fun team and I loved the company.

CJ: What tools do you use daily to keep yourself organized?

SM: My sister is also an entrepreneur – she’s the CEO and co-founder of Kabinet based in New York – and the two of us have an ongoing debate about how we manage our time, and what tools we use. There are so many tools out there you can use, and I feel like you can have as many apps as there are people since everyone manages things differently. I’ve tried a million of them, but honestly I always end up coming back to a notepad and pen. I keep trying to figure out how to modernize this classic method with technology. I heard about a partnership between Moleskin and Livescribe recently which sounds like it could be exactly right for me. And of course I also use google calendar for meetings so it can sync to my phone, but for actual tasks I always come back to paper and pen To-Do lists. Old school.

CJ: What made you decide to come back to D.C. where you grew up after living in a couple of different cities?

SM: I actually came back to D.C. because of the Rosetta Stone opportunity. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job here, but it came up and it was an exciting opportunity. So it was almost a coincidence that I grew up here, but it’s great being around my parents again and being back in this city.

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CJ: Where did you get the inspiration for Bloompop?

SM: I’m someone who has always personally loved flowers, and what I discovered as I looked into this space was that it’s a really outdated industry in more aspects than I’d initially realized. I knew that the experience for consumers was really terrible, but it was shocking to discover how detrimental it is to the florists themselves. Local florists will often work with a mega-network like 1800flowers etc, but they don’t get to create any of their own designs, have no creativity in the process, and to add insult to injury often barely make money off of those orders. I’ve actually spoken with many who literally lose money on filling orders for the big flower behemoths. It was an industry ripe for disruption. I decided to take my experience in digital sales and tech, combine it with my love for flowers, and tackle this outdated industry with better quality products, better tools for both florists and consumers, and modern tech and marketing experiences.

CJ: What has been the greatest success since having started Bloompop?

SM: Definitely putting my team together. Matt, my co-founder and CTO, for example, is brilliant and also somebody who is such a perfect cultural fit with the company. The two of us get along amazingly and I’m finding that that’s incredibly important. We all spend so much time together, so being able to find the right people – on both a personal and professional level – has been one of my biggest successes. It was a very deliberate thing in finding them and building our team; it wasn’t something I took lightly.

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CJ: Can you please tell me a bit about your past experience with The Craft Factory?

SM: I’ve always been into DIY projects. Craft factory was something I started when I was back at Meetup. It was a group that came together every month and worked on a project together. I think that DIY is a stress reliever for me because at Bloompop so much of my day-to-day is digital – from web sales and marketing to product work – it’s very much sitting front of a laptop. DIY is a nice way to do something with your hands.

CJ: You also have an Etsy shop called HudsonScout – can you please tell us more about that?

SM: I’ve been an Etsy seller for several years now – it’s great because it has really helped in my understanding of the supply side of an online marketplace. Which obviously comes in handy now with Bloompop. My shop on etsy sells first birthday candles. I actually started HudsonScout by selling candles in every number, but what I eventually saw was that nearly 95% of orders were for First Birthday candles. So now that’s really what the whole focus is.

CJ: Although you’re a young company, has Bloompop hired interns before?

SM: We had two interns last summer but none currently. I feel like hiring interns at such a small company can have a huge impact – it’s a combination of figuring out what they can be doing that really has an impact and also providing them with a valuable experience. We want interns who will be excited about Bloompop and become serious contributing members of the team.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

SM: Become friends with professors at CU’s business school.

Image: Courtesy of Bloompop

Shavanna Miller Qs

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We love discovering people who are just as passionate about reading as we are, and Matthew Richardson is one of these people. We learned about Matthew Richardson through his company, Gramr Gratidue Co., which helps people make gratitude a habit through the form of thank you notes. Amazing, right? Matthew’s campaign to start a cultural movement for gratitude involves encouraging others to send thank-you notes, articles on The Huffington Post educating people on how to incorporate gratitude into their lives, and by sending thank-you notes himself. This is exactly the type of campaign we can get behind 100%.

Matthew is passionate about his pursuits, and when he finds something that moves him, he explores it further. Case in point: Matthew took a year off during his studies at Claremont McKenna College to hitchhike across 14 countries after reading the works of Henry David Thoreau. Inspired yet? Even now as a busy entrepreneur, Matthew makes time to read, write, remain curious about the world around him, and express gratitude daily. And we couldn’t agree more with the advice Matthew would tell his 15-year-old self: “Read.”

Name: Matthew Richardson
Age: 25
Education: B.A. in Literature from Claremont McKenna College
Follow: Gramr Gratitude Co. / Twitter / MattRyanRich.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Matthew Richardson: I think that it means very nearly the same thing as “Seize the Day” — that is, for as long as you’re able to see the importance of taking ownership of your own life and circumstances, then you have that spark of youth in you… you have as much energy and passion as it takes to create something of value for the world.

Also, I may be biased but as an entrepreneur with an academic background in Literature, I can’t help but equate siezing one’s youth or life or day, with creating something artistic, something that wouldn’t otherwise exist if you didn’t step up and pull resources together to make it happen.

CJ: You majored in Literature at Claremont McKenna College. How did you determine what to study?

MR: Like most every undergraduate I changed my major a few times before hitting my stride. I started out as an economics major with a focus on finance… but really couldn’t get passionate about anything that I was learning. It seemed both overly practical and totally impractical. I saw the value of economics in everyday decisions, but that very fact seemed soul-less to me.

I took a course in Russian Literature, read Tolstoy; which allowed me to see the infinitely reaching application of classic literature and philosophy. This led to Thoreau, which caused me to leave CMC for a year and hitchhike/camp across 14 countries, and read everything I could get my hands on. I returned to school with a passion for literature, and I felt as if I had made up for some lost time by reading dozens and dozens of classic works during that year off. Without going into it deeply here, I feel as though Literature is the best liberal arts discipline if your interest is ultimately in becoming an entrepreneur.

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CJ: You are the Co-Founder of Gramr Gratitude Co., a company that helps people make gratitude a habit through the form of thank you notes. What inspired the idea for Gramr Gratitude Co.?

MR: In the beginning we wanted to shake up the greeting card game and create an alternative to Hallmark that was so cool and trendy that they wouldn’t be able to help but acquire it. Very quickly, Brett (my co-founder) and I found that we were trying to run before we could walk and that we also didn’t care much about greeting cards in general. One niche that was particularly compelling, however, was the thank-you note. It didn’t depend on a holiday or an obligation — it had the potential to suggest a lifestyle. Gratitude seemed very important to us, and often overlooked as a virtue because it had no tangible commodity to represent it.

Meanwhile every business under the sun was developing programs for social benefit — following the lead of TOMS shoes which gives one pair of shoes to underprivileged children for every pair of shoes they sell. Generosity, then, was booming, because you could wear it on your feet, or chest, or wrist. But gratitude didn’t have anything like that, and we decided to make a concerted effort at becoming the face of the virtue. It was a word and a concept that was up for grabs, and we were the first to market — now we are continuing to try to think of ways to cement our concept into the contemporary context that is consumed by technology and efficiency. It is challenging but infinitely rewarding.

CJ: What responsibilities do you have as the Co-Founder?

MR: I lead creative projects, design, and partnerships.

CJ: How do you and your Co-Founder balance the workload?

MR: My Co-Founder is in charge of operations and business processes. But there is huge overlap — we are both frequently consulting each other and helping carry different loads that fall outside of the bounds of our broad responsibilities.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your own company?

MR: It’s very hard and there are many hundreds of things you don’t think about or plan on when idealizing a company from the outside looking in.

CJ: What do you wish you had known before starting Gramr Gratitude Co.?

MR: That your website should be a minimum viable product because building something before you know how people will interact with it is a guessing game. We guessed wrong on several things, including our web host, and e-commerce platform. Both mistakes that are costly and time consuming to redevelop.

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CJ: What advice do you have on how to finance and budget when running your own business?

MR: In the beginning, ask people you know, who you trust, and who can give you more than just capital. We happen to have a very strong core of advisors, and that is more important than capital. We also raised 63k on Kickstarter. Crowdfunding is a good option for bootstrappers, but it also has scores of drawbacks that you can’t know until you’ve been hosed by them.

CJ: What can a teenager or young adult who wants to start their own company do now to set themselves up for success?

MR: Read.

CJ: What would you say to people who are uncertain about starting a business? What motivated you to take the leap?

MR: Surround yourself with people who fit more into a day than you fit into a week.

CJ: You write articles for The Huffington Post about gratitude. What are your favorite ways to show gratitude?

MR: Writing thank-you notes, or Gramrs. Especially to people who wouldn’t expect it. One of my favorite thank-you notes I ever wrote was to the server at Dr. Grubbs, a year after I last went there, for being such a joyful and wonderful person over the few years that I patronized that incredible restaurant.

CJ: You are an avid reader. How do you fit reading into your day, and which book has had the greatest impact on you?

MR: When I am in a good rhythm I am getting up at 5am and reading for an hour before I start my day. This allows you to get through about a book a week. This is my favorite time of the day.

I recommend East of Eden by John Steinbeck to everyone I meet. Sometimes before I introduce myself. It is enormously valuable.

CJ: Describe a day in your life.

MR: Wake up at 5. Make coffee. Read for an hour. Write for an hour. Sometimes workout for an hour. Start trying to get through the three biggest priorities I’ve set for the day — try and finish this before 12. Meetings, calls, work from 12 to 6-ish. Wind down in a variety of ways. Drink wine and Yerba Mate. Try and read some more. Write down the three things I must get done the following day before noon. Go to sleep ~11pm.

CJ: How do you balance your career roles and goals? How do you stay organized and efficient?

MR: This is something I constantly try and optimize — but OmniFocus is good, and Mailbox App keeps emails organized and out of the way. The best thing I’ve found is that figuring out what the three things you need to get done before noon are is the best way to get stuff done.

CJ: How do you like to enjoy your free time?

MR: I read, eat tacos, spend up to 10 minutes creating cups of single origin coffee, and tinker around with a handful of side projects.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

MR: Read.

Matt Rich Qs

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

On a boutique-lined street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill is a cookie shop that has captured the hearts and taste buds of those near and far. This cookie shop, Hello Robin Cookies, is run by the seriously talented Robin Wehl Martin, who can whip up a batch of delicious cookies in just eight minutes. Growing up, Robin spent time learning how to bake with her grandma, and she now spends her days making the most amazing cookies you’ll ever taste. With cookies such as classic chocolate chip, Habanero orange, and Mackles’more, Robin has created treats that are addicting after just one bite. Continue reading to learn how Robin got to where is today, to hear her thoughts on culinary school, and to find out her best cookie baking tips.

Name: Robin Wehl Martin
Age: 43
Education: B.A. from Central Washington University; Master’s Degree from Seattle University
Follow: TwitterHello Robin Cookies

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Robin Wehl Martin: I think of it in a weird way where you’re not necessarily seizing it, but you’re maintaining it. By certain choices and things that you do, you’re always staying youthful. There are people who are so much younger than me but they are like a 65-year-old man in the way they act and think. They’re not playful or curious. Keeping all of those traits active help.

CJ: What did you major in at college and graduate school, and how did you determine what to study?

RWM: I have an undergraduate degree in Community Health Education from Central Washington University, and that’s the one I wish I had pursued more. At Seattle University, I received my graduate degree in Student Development Administration, and I had dreams of working with students.

The Community Health Education was random, and I took a health class that I loved. The professor was so dynamic. I went to school thinking I was going to do something with broadcast journalism, but then the health stuff really got me.
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CJ: What was your first job out of college?

RWM: I graduated from Central, took a year off and worked for the university, and then went to graduate school. I worked during undergrad, worked all during graduate school, and then went I got out of graduate school, I worked for a small non-profit in Seattle for four years. Most of my work has been in non-profits.

CJ: What sparked your interested in baking?

RWM: My grandmother was a baker. She was born in Germany, and when the war broke out, she and her family moved to Shanghai and lived in the ghettos of Shanghai for 10 years. When her family was able to move to the United States, her trades and skills were in baking and cooking. She worked at some great bakeries in Seattle, and I always loved baking with her. That was my training.

CJ: Did you go to culinary school? What are your thoughts on culinary school?

RWM: I wanted to go to culinary school, and I thought for a while that I would go. But then I realized it wasn’t totally necessary for what I wanted to do. I have three kids, and I didn’t think it was going to be the best use of time for my family and for what I was going to get out of it.

All of our friends had restaurants and people always asked when we would do something because were always cooking and hosting at our house.

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CJ: How did you know when you wanted to turn your passion for baking into a profession?

RWM: I had slowly done it in my house. It happened naturally, and then when Molly Moon and her husband came to me and asked if I was interested in opening a bakery, that’s when everything started.

CJ: You opened your cookie shop, Hello Robin, in December 2013. What inspired you to open a bakery that primarily sells cookies (and Molly Moon ice cream)?

RWM: I just really truly love cookies, and if you do one thing and you do it well, then that’s a good thing.

CJ: What have been the greatest challenges in running your bakery?

RWM: Balancing family with work. That’s hard, especially because my kids are still little. But it’s fun because my husband and I both want to be here. We both really like being here still, and my kids really like being here also.

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CJ: What is your favorite part about your job?

RWM: I really love all the customers. I love the creative process, I love the good feedback. It’s all so good and better than I ever could have imagined. I love that we took a risk and it worked out. I love that Molly believed in us.

We’ll always say yes to the customers, because I really want everyone to have a great experience. The experience, the aesthetic, and the product are really important things.

CJ: What do you wish you had known before opening your shop?

RWM: Surprisingly, we go through a lot of ice cream sandwiches. I had no idea, I just thought it was going to be cookies. It’s exciting to be one of the first places in Seattle to be making ice cream sandwiches with great ingredients.

CJ: What are your cookie baking tips?

RWM: Use really good ingredients, don’t over mix, don’t over bake, and practice a lot. Also, freeze the dough, which helps maintain the shape and texture.

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CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to have their own bakery do now to set themselves up for success?

RWM: Get a job at a bakery and practice. Make tons of stuff and give it away. And don’t get cocky because you have to be open to learning. Maybe consider culinary school. Culinary school is right for a lot of people and you’ll learn different things. Go to the bookstore and read through cook books and try new recipes. The most important thing is really just practice.

CJ: What do you like to do when you’re not baking cookies or running the business side of things?

RWM: Sometimes I’ll just go home and make cookies. Going from a large scale to a tiny batch of cookies was hard! I still relax by baking cookies. I do a lot of cooking.

CJ: Have you ever worried about turning a hobby into a career and then not liking it anymore?

RWM: I have worried about that but I don’t think it’s going to happen because I love it too much, and I have been doing it for so long. Before this I was making cookies for my friend who has a restaurant in University Village. I find it relaxing and it’s a great way to zone out. Everything about this job is fun.

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CJ: How long does it take to make a batch of cookies?

RWM: I can do it fast, probably around eight minutes to mix the dough, and then ten minutes to bake.

CJ: If you could open another cookie shop anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

RWM: Amsterdam, because it is so beautiful. If you walk around the good parts of Amsterdam, there are beautiful boutique stores. It’s visually stunning, and I think it would be fun to be there with all that. I don’t think I want to open another store, though. I want to be here and know my customers and see the cookies going out. It’s not a control thing, but more of just being present here.

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CJ: What motivates you?

RWM: I am motivated by doing my job well. I don’t want any products going out that I wouldn’t eat. I have to feel really good about everything that goes out. I am motivated by the quality of the product and the happiness of the customers.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

RWM: I would not have gone to graduate school right after college because I think you need time to figure out what you want to do. I would have waited and then I probably would have gone to culinary school. That’s the big one.

I also would say to be more relaxed. When you’re 20 you feel so old and like you need to be accomplished, but you’re still so young. Try a bunch of things out and do what is fun. You have to do what you enjoy.

Robin Martin Qs