OWNER OF BOSCO BAKING CO.
Jessica Berry is the owner of Bosco Baking Co., a baking company specializing in gluten-free desserts and pastries. Jessica’s romance with baking — and eating — desserts began abroad when she studied in Rome, Italy for a semester during her undergraduate program. By the end of the semester, Jessica was ready to trade in her path to an architecture degree in exchange for a career in pastry making. Her initial plan had been to attend architecture school after graduating, but at the last minute, she changed her mind and enrolled in culinary school instead.
It was while she was in culinary school that a chef Jessica was working with pointed out that she likely had a gluten intolerance. This discovery was unfortunate for Jessica because she was baking in restaurants but couldn’t eat any of the desserts she was making. (This was 20 years ago when very little was known about gluten in general, and there was nothing on the market that was gluten-free.) But, as a trained baker, Jessica figured out ways to create her own gluten-free recipes that would work for her and taste just as good. Her priority was to keep things as fresh as possible while adjusting the recipes.
Jessica enrolled in RMMFI’s Business Launch Boot Camp in 2012 after attending an info session with her aunt. She didn’t have a clear plan for what she wanted to do, but she knew that she didn’t want her company to be thought of as “gluten-free” because of the stigma around it; she was more interested in creating gluten-free baked goods and running her business like any other dessert business. The name Bosco Baking Co. came from her time in Italy. Her favorite flavor of gelato was called fruitti de bosco, meaning fruit of the forest, so she named her company that.
While attending RMMFI’s boot camp, Jessica saw the possibility of creating her own career path through her business. At the time, she was still working in the restaurant industry, and while she loved it, she didn’t have the same industry mentality as her peers. Through the classes and working with the other entrepreneurs in boot camp, Jessica discovered that she could actually make her business idea work for herself. “I didn’t have the impetus to have a structured business, but being exposed to other entrepreneurs showed me that this could be my unique way of contributing to society while making a means for myself.”
“I came out of the program thinking ok, I’m going to sell cakes but will start working part-time. I didn’t take a loan initially when I finished the program, but then I got into wholesale and needed to get a loan so that I could get into a kitchen. I actually tried to apply through another organization but didn’t get it. I couldn’t believe that I could get a car loan for the same amount but no one was willing to give me a business loan, so I got headstrong and decided that I was going to make all the money all on my own, which I did.”
When COVID hit, Jessica and her husband, who is a chef, were both out of work; all they had left to rely on was the income from her baking part-time, so they decided to lean into that. Jessica began doing more farmers’ markets, and her demand was up. She needed more capital to keep up but was weary of the investment. “I don’t like having debt, but I’ve learned that it’s pretty hard to make more money if you don’t have some.” Jessica came to RMMFI for her loan and worked closely with Ryan Flanders, RMMFI’s Capital Manager. “Ryan was great to work with; he was so pumped about what I was doing. Thanks to the loan, I more than doubled my revenue this year compared to previous years.”
With the loan, Jessica was able to get a large freezer and bulk raw ingredients, which was a day-to-day effort previously. “I took the 0% interest loan and made enough to pay it back within the first two months. It feels good being taken care of by the business versus the business needing to be taken care of by me. I don’t think there’s anything else that can replicate the experience of RMMFI if you’re willing to go all in.”