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By James McCue
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Portrait Project Class
Portrait Project Class

Many of you might have already had the pleasure of either being a part of or seeing the work from CBTF's teen photography classes. The classes are a partnership between CBTF and photographers Annie Levy and Paul White through a grant given to us through Kathy Epstein and the Fred J. Epstein Pediatric Care Foundation.  Our latest adventures have been with "The Portrait Project" in which the teens are taking a deeper look at themselves through exploration of their interests and applying them through photojournalism.  Many of these interests come in the form of potential career fields as well as hobbies.  We've been fortunate to visit and speak with professionals and experts in some of these vocations and recently visited Amy's Bakery which was survivor Nicole's choice as she has an interest in becoming a baker. 

One of the many great components of this class is that our survivors combine and use their talents in ways that complement each other, as is the case with James McCue, aspiring reporter who wrote the following article that captures what we learned at Amy's Bakery!


CHELSEA MARKET – Private company owner Amy Scherber of Amy’s Bakery celebrated her twentieth anniversary of pastry productions this month with her customers, marking an importantly sweet milestone in any business industry, not just for her own career but a personal triumph as well.

Amy’s Bakery located at 75th and Ninth Avenue relies on a personal philosophy, instilled from Amy and shared with her employees, of hands-on community building and a superb set of employees to which Amy proudly and gleefully attributes the success of the bakery when she states, “The most important factor for someone who wants to go into whatever line of work is to go to a place with excellent quality of service not just any store because it is a sample of your desired career.”

Starting out was financially demanding but a sense of calculated risk-taking and ingenuity helped Amy and her business aspirations rise like yeast in the oven of Manhattan, “If you are setting out on your own, with your own money to open the business, don’t gamble everything away”, she says, “start with what you have and build to a solid financial base. I started this idea when I was thirty years old, and it was only two years later until I had enough to make my hopes reality”.

The road to its twentieth anniversary celebration was not a straight, smooth line for Amy’s Bakery and the key for her prolonged success was something even more complicated. Along her journey, mostly at the start of it, there was a large amount of uncertainty and a mixture of three interests proved to be the three basic ingredients for which she still reflects and relies on today, “I began off in a field of marketing, but I always had my first love for cooking. Naturally, baking is a part of cooking, so the three ended up being one and the same, which really worked out well for me.”

Amy was born just outside of Minnesota, but moved to New York to attend its state-named culinary school - a great mixture of two styles of baking rolled into one. This mixture of two worlds becoming one can be seen in nearly all of her pastries, one’s personal tastes aside. But Amy confesses she has two personal favorite pastries which she enjoys baking the first being a chocolate twist and the other a vencilian sprinkled with simply the extraordinary.

Even though there were financial strains at the start, gender and size inequalities also proved to bring out Amy’s creativity, shown through the tools she worked with and made for a unique working environment, “the harshest criticism I received was, ‘You can’t do that sort of work because your hands are too small’, so I made it top priority when hiring my employees to make sure I had equipment that any type of person, big or small, male or female, could be able to use in my bakery”.

The unique recipe of what helps Amy’s business succeed touches every curious taste bud and sends delicious sensations for knowledge seekers who hope to one day start a bakery of their own which will hopefully replicate Amy’s success, a success which relies on the work ethic of Amy’s notably large employee base, “I am glad to say that at this location (Chelsea, but Amy also revealed she has two other locations that are part of her company) I have two hundred people working for me and I couldn’t have realized this dream of opening my bakery and staying open for twenty years, twenty exciting years”.

Through those twenty years of building customer satisfaction, the challenges and hurdles Amy had to overcome were part of the growing pains, not from a business perspective only but a character and philosophical evolutionary process too, “If I was given another opportunity I would still tell myself to go ahead and open you bakery, even in the midst of everything I know now and all the challenges I faced. I would still pursue opening a bakery and the things I mentioned would not prevent me from doing everything the same way again”.

When asked to summarize in a few short words her baking career and the ups and downs of her bakery, challenges included, Amy glowingly and resoundingly responded, “I would say that it has been a great adventure” A great adventure indeed and bon appetit!

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