In 2013, Stephanie LaCroix and her husband, Roland, purchased a former fire station from the City of Waterville and began renovations. It was Stephanie’s dream to own and operate a bakery.
Three years later, she attended a New Ventures Maine Business Basics class and then applied and was accepted into the Venturing Forth business planning course.
Stephanie says, “I knew I needed help with becoming an entrepreneur. Venturing Forth was a very helpful experience—I learned a lot and received encouragement and support from my classmates, facilitator and guest speakers. Working with New Ventures Maine convinced me that this idea of mine was a real possibility!”
Her plan was to open a small retail bakery in the community and do some small part to re-vitalize the local economy. “I wanted to create a business that made people feel valued, acknowledged, and respected—a true neighborhood cornerstone,” she says.
Engine 5 Bakehouse opened in June of 2018. “We have been warmly received by area residents, and I feel that my regular customers really appreciate what I am doing. We have a great reputation for quality baked goods and excellent customer service.”
Stephanie says her biggest challenge has been balancing her personal life with the business. “The pandemic actually helped me in this regard, because closing for a while forced me to take a break and re-assess.” She closed the bakery for six weeks at the end of March, 2020. When she reopened, she established a new schedule that continues to works better for the business and for her.
The pandemic has made it impossible to follow through on her plans for growth. However, Stephanie is looking forward to expanding offerings in the future, including a return to decorating classes that were very popular and utilized her 2,000-square-foot kitchen and huge baking table.
Stephanie received a New Ventures Maine Marketing Mini-Grant in 2020 to help with promotional costs for the bakery. She adds, “My greatest joy so far is the satisfaction and pride I feel in creating this business and slowly building it.”
Applications are currently open for the NVME Marketing Mini-Grant program. Apply by May 6, 2022!