Michelle Goldberg & Michele Piedmonte: Co-Founders, FreshBakedNY

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Michelle Goldberg and Michele Piedmonte are Co-Founders of FreshBakedNY.

How did you get into the industry?

I raised a family of four children cooking for them and friends for 30 years, was a sous chef and private chef in The Hamptons and became a certified chocolatier.  On holidays, I would make a special treat. My family and friends constantly urged me to go into business. I also had a wheat intolerance and was a triathlete. I knew there was a way to eat sweet and eat smart. I invented Michelle’s Maccs – crunchy, chewy, chocolate, coconut heaven. Michelle’s Maccs are likened to a coconut macaroon (not macaron) except they do not contain eggs, flour or almond paste. A special baking process binds the basic recipe together and then The Maccs are covered in imported Belgian Chocolates. In 2008, I started Mich’s Maccs. The Maccs constantly sold out in 31 locations throughout Manhattan and The Hamptons. In 2011, while training for a race I was hit by a car. I had to shut the business down. I could not walk. Recovering from 6 surgeries and 4 years of convalescing I formulated the brand FreshBakedNY. I knew I had to bring The Maccs back. FreshBakedNY has two collections: Michelle’s Maccs (now available in 13 unique flavors) and Michelle’s Baked – a curated collection of nostalgic NY pastries. The icing on the cake was when my friend of 30 years Michele, a finance manager joined on as my partner. Michele and I have raised 7 children between us and consider FreshBakedNY to be our 8th collective child. We sell, bake and market fueled by passion, determination and chocolate.

Any emerging industry trends?

The Maccs are gluten – free which has become a trend and still emerges. For some gluten- free is necessary however the simplicity is also a trend. Consumers are looking for simple, fresh & natural ingredients. Also, click and order is taking over brick and mortar. We bake to order and ship. A customer has the ability with the ease of the internet to buy a freshly baked product made for them and receive their item the next day.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

I live in Manhattan and have seen so many stores closing. Our premise that we bake- to-order and ship is cost effective and efficient. The internet gives us the ability to do that. Everything is fresh and nothing sits around or is wasted till the next day. The internet has provided this platform. We ship nationwide and repeatedly get calls from customers across the country thanking us for the ability to order the nostalgic sweet treats that that New York is known for. Our industry is very competitive however, everyone yearns and looks for the next best thing- the next new thing- the next unique thing. We have accomplished that with Michelle’s Maccs. There is a challenge however even with the size of the internet when introducing a new product. Social media provides a wonderful platform as well as the proper SEO, however, that can be quite costly. There are algorithms for everything. Sometimes our complicated world boils down to simplicity of ‘word of mouth’. The opportunities are out there, the challenges are immense and with any business the biggest challenge is to face them and keep going.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I mentioned this in the first paragraph but will elaborate. I have four children, was a triathlete and chef. I knew there was a way to eat sweet and eat smart.  I adore sweet treats myself, however most of them are laden with many ingredients or a replacement of ingredients. We live by, K.I.S.S - Keep It Simply Sweet. Every Michelle Maccs has fresh simple ingredients and real chocolate. Unbeknownst to most, chocolate products are not real chocolate. Some are made from a powder - others made from a chocolate liquor. Hershey’s is a candy bar made from powder and in fact, it is not chocolate! Once I brought The Maccs back I realized that NY is very well know for certain pastries. My partner Michele had moved away from NY, she craved and missed those sweet treats. FreshBakedNY solves that problem! Our vision for FreshBakedNY is to grow and continue to share our nostalgic treats across the country. Europe brought us ‘macarons’ (those little hamburger cookies made from sugar and eggs). We hope to bring Michelle’s Maccs to Europe – There is nothing else like them. We also are seeing that the corporate business for our sweet treats is a very lucrative one

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We are in our second year and have created the foundation of a brand. Slowly but surely, we must be doing something right ie: our social media, PR and SEO that we are getting out there and people find us via the internet. Back to basics - word of mouth is also a key component. Our business is exciting every day. We have a slew of new flavors and recipes that we plan to launch as we continue.  Having a business in Manhattan also provides for many different opportunities such a holiday markets and urban space. We recently developed an additional line of Mini Maccs – bite sized pieces of yum which we plan to launch as a retail item and we are at that entrepreneurial stage where we want to include an investor and a mentor.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

As an internet only company, SEO, Social Media & PR are imperative. We do not have a storefront. SEO can be quite complicated and challenging and it is vital to be on top of it on a daily basis. Some of these partnerships have failed others become a success. It is sometimes just trial and error and th eability to know that if something does not work move on and try again.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The most difficult part of the business was transitioning to bake at a commercial level and perfecting the process and product so that it is consistent and maintained that boutique bakery feel. We accomplished that. The most difficult thing that remains is to be an entrepreneur. It takes a certain personality to keep going to follow a passion and to believe in your concept and product and yourself.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

To get or give our sweet treats. They are all special but Michelle’s Maccs are truly special. Can’t eat just one. Wonderfully addictive.

How do you motivate others?

Bring good energy with you. Most importantly make others laugh. Creating the proper work environment is the key to your own success. To stay positive, to welcome the challenges because the challenges make us grow. To believe that everyone has the opportunity to follow their passion and succeed.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Work hard and be considerate of others and to your own self. To absorb the failures and move on to the next challenge. Believe in yourself. Slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming and that old adage one step at a time is the best and most successful way. These may not be new tips or pieces of information, but many people do not follow them and if they did their path would be a smoother and lucrative one. Once again: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simply Sweet.