“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” – Dolly Parton
In April 2015, Daymara Baker noticed some changes taking place at a company where she held a corporate role. She didn’t like what she saw. She repeated to herself the Dolly Parton quote about paving new roads and decided to take a leap of faith.
She left her job on a Friday and by Sunday, she was on a plane to see her family in Venezuela. On the last leg of the trip, as she thought about what her next move would be, she had a vision.
“It was like a movie playing in my head,” she explained. “I wanted to do something different – something more sustainable.”
She had a dream of a bakery that would bring in revenue through the baked goods sold, but would also have a way to help others.
“As soon as I made the decision, stars began aligning.”
In her previous job, Daymara had worked with and become friends with Red212’s CEO Anne Chambers. When Daymara made the decision to make her vision a reality, she called Anne. Anne connected her to the Sixteen Bricks Artisan Bakehouse in Cincinnati, and after a bit of formalized training, Daymara spent a week with Sixteen Bricks, learning the ins and outs of the bakery business.
“I was quite aware of my weaknesses,” Daymara said. “I’ve never worked in a restaurant. To minimize the risk, I surrounded myself with people with knowledge.”
Along with the Dolly Parton quote, Daymara also uses an Eleanor Roosevelt quote as a source of inspiration: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
“It’s about using your mind, but also following your heart,” Daymara added. “I had a vision without experience. Every time I start thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ I think about that quote.”
Thus, the Rockin’ Baker Academy was born.
The bakery has two arms: a benefit corporation (a for-profit business driven more by a mission than profit) and a non-profit arm which trains “cadets.”
Daymara partnered with the local university to allow students in the culinary program to earn credit hours working with her, and she also works with local groups like Good Will to provide internships to people who are economically challenged. It’s a nine-month program, allowing those who come through to learn valuable life and job skills, so they can eventually get better jobs to support themselves.
“There is an opportunity for organizational businesses to take a more proactive role to be change-makers in their community. In the end, we all live in the community and have to make it better…We have a big social mission of helping other people.”
“The biggest roadblock was to overcome the fear,” Daymara explained. “I have to confess I was uncomfortable. Anne [Chambers] was one of those people that really encouraged me to make the jump. She said, ‘It’s going to be hard but you’re going to be fine!’ and she was right!”
Daymara Baker exemplifies the idea that one person, one vision, can make such an impact on the world, and we could not be more excited for her and all involved with the academy.
The Rockin’ Baker Academy is currently undergoing the last few renovations, and is set to open at the end of September.