La Momo Maes makes you feel right at home. The mother-daughter owned bakery in Longmont is the epitome of a family business, from their tried-and-true recipes, to their sentimental name. But, Cathy and Michelle are the first to admit that entrepreneurship isn’t a cake walk. They talked with me about their triumphs and trials and gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the bakery business. Read on because you’re in for a treat!
Cathy managed various bakery locations and owned a bakery in Omaha prior to opening La Momo Maes. (She’s coming up on 40 years of baking!) Michelle had a career in finance and a background in marketing and PR. She loved her job but was working too many hours away from home and wanted to spend more time with her children. The mother-daughter team had the perfect mix of skills to start a bakery – Cathy with years of pastry perfecting and Michelle with the business know-how. They decided to take the leap to pursue their passions, and were pleasantly surprised.
Cathy and Michelle were amazed at the overwhelming support they received from the Longmont community when they started the bakery. Michelle says that the city is full of people who want to see small businesses succeed. Organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and City of Longmont helped them every step of the way and that made all the difference for La Momo Maes. Michelle notes that even competing small businesses owners in Longmont are supportive of one another because they recognize that there’s room for everyone. That level of collaboration is unparalleled and something that you won’t likely find in a large city.
Michelle says that as glamorous as it seems, owning a business isn’t a piece of cake, even if it’s a bakery. You don’t just open your doors and have people flock in – word of mouth is critical to success. And you can’t just sit around and look pretty. There’s lots of hard work and long days required to get a small business off the ground. Michelle and Cathy didn’t take out any business loans to start La Momo Maes, meaning that some months, they’re tight on funds. Michelle notes that you’ll likely take a major pay cut initially when you switch from a comfy corporate gig to small business ownership. But the rewards you reap are invaluable.
Prior to owning the bakery, Cathy and Michelle were both avid volunteers. They knew that the bakery would take up the majority of their time, so they had to find another way to give back to their community. From the start, they’ve donated 10% of their earnings to local schools and non-profits. Customers can simply state which organization they’re with, and La Momo Maes will donate that portion of the order to the selected group. This year, the bakery donated 800 cookies to Empty Bowls and they give desserts to other fundraisers, like the Humane Society’s Homeward Bound event.
Michelle believes that if you have a passion, it’s definitely worth pursuing it. But, owning a business takes dedication and you will get out of it what you put into it. She says that there will be ups and downs, but it’s important to remember that you have so many resources available to help you. There are numerous other business owners who have walked in your shoes and “been there and done that.” So, Michelle suggests that you not be afraid to ask others for advice when you need it. People in your community want to see you succeed and will point you in the right direction.
When I asked Michelle if owning a business is worth it, she said, “Had we thought this all out, we probably wouldn’t have done it. But, I wouldn’t change it for the world.” That’s what small business ownership is about – taking the leap when you don’t have all the answers. Despite the challenges, Michelle says she’ll never go back to a standard 9 to 5. She and her mom love learning and growing through this experience and have a new-found appreciation for the vibrant community where they live and work. Make sure to show your support for local businesses by stopping by La Momo Maes and treating yourself to a little piece of heaven.
(P.S. – If you’re a fellow small business owner, stay tuned for an exciting announcement from the Marketing Java team!)