Covid Changed My Life

In 2019 I was questioning whether I could ever own my own bakery, or make it as a baker at all. Then, when the pandemic began in 2020, Covid changed my life forever.

The end of 2019 was a trying time in my life. I had switched careers from working in the psychiatric field to working as a baker for an ice cream company. I began finding my relationship with God during this time, right before my family entered a very hard season of our lives. Things went downhill pretty fast from then, I was questioning everything about my life and entering 2020 thinking, "what could possibly get worse?"

Well, a worldwide pandemic will definitely make things worse. Just as I was questioning if I made the right decision becoming a baker, the company I was working for was one of the first businesses to shut down in Portland, Oregon. Turns out, they were never great with their money, and when the shutdown happened they barely had enough money to give us our last paychecks.

So there I was, in a city-wide quarantine, sitting on my couch in my 600 sqft apartment questioning everything. What started as two weeks "to slow the curve" was pushing a month. By the first extension I was done waiting for the government to decide whether or not I will be able to work again. I asked my parents for a lot of advice during this time, baking to ease my anxious mind and looking for any work I could do. That was when I asked myself, "Why can't I start my bakery now?"

That was when Treats & Chill was born.

pink cupcake with blue liner in blue circle frame on white brick background
The first version of my beloved bakery. It's baby stage.


Starting T & C

Treats & Chill started from my little apartment in Portland. I would post weekly sales and people would claim them for delivery. Back then I was doing bags of cookies, and when they were claimed I would deliver them to people's doors. Contactless delivery became a big thing at that point, which didn't bother me too much. Generally speaking I consider myself an extroverted-introvert. I can be social when I need to be, but contactless delivery was definitely my jam. Beginning this blog is also right up my alley. I enjoy writing out my thoughts and ideas rather than discussing them, only because I am a very visual learner and need to see exactly what I'm trying to work through. From lists on my phone to post-it notes everywhere, I write a lot of things out.

These deliveries continued to grow, even during a huge snowstorm where my dad had to drive me around the city in his truck to help me fulfill my deliveries. Many people loved having allergy friendly treats delivered to their door, and I quickly got the opportunity to join a local farmer's market.

Words could not describe how excited I was. Getting all my paperwork together, designing my booth space, creating a new menu just for the market. It was all incredibly exciting! When I started out, I was so nervous to talk to people. At this point Oregon had been mostly shut down for almost six months, so not a whole lot of us had many social skills left. Much like any other skill, we all needed more practice.

The other vendors around me really took me under my wing, and I found my group of regulars that would hang out and chat with every weekend. A year and a half I worked a day job and ran my business both full time. That equated to roughly 70-80 hours a week. It was tough, and I kept feeling like I was hitting a glass ceiling in Oregon.

When Oregon Stopped Being Home

I'm a fifth generation Oregonian. Growing up, Oregon was gorgeous, inviting, a fun place to live really. The last ten years of my life though I really felt that nagging feeling that Oregon may not be my home anymore. It became abundantly clear during the pandemic.

The stress of the whole situation for the city brought the true colors out of a lot of people. Anger became a common feeling for most. Constant fighting and division festered until riots began breaking out. Blame kept being thrown around and the governor of the state turned neighbor against neighbor rather than fighting for the people. It was a jarring time, seeing people I grew up with become hateful and violent.

My family and I grew closer while many broke apart during all this. We started looking at other places to call home as our hometown had fires and gun violence skyrocket. Between my dad and I, we're the big researchers of the family, and by the time we settled on Tennessee we must've researched close to 30 states. But when we found Tennessee, we knew we had found home.

It took quite a few trips to the state to determine Knoxville was the city for us, and we met my amazing realtor named Jessica. She is such an amazing soul, in our first trip to the city she took us on a tour of everywhere. We must've looked at ten houses that day, from Fountain City all the way down to Maryville. To end the day we found a large sunflower patch along the river that was a local favorite. It was that trip that convinced us this was our new forever home.


Moving Treats & Chill to Knoxville, Tennessee

The process of beginning the search for our new home, to moving to Knoxville, was about a year and a half. Not very long at all, but when you know, you know. Moving my business was an easy choice. In Portland my dream of an allergy friendly bakery was an over-saturated idea. However, in Knoxville there was a barely touched market that gave me room to really dream of where I could take this passion project of mine.

That was how my daydreams of owning a homestead melded with my dream of running a bakery. After lots of research and thought I found a way to do both, in a farm-to-table bakery setting. Garden-to-table may be more accurate though, with the lack of dairy and meat. Chickens would be needed though if I wanted to be as organic as I wished. So eggs would still be involved.

But at this point Treats & Chill was already a brand I had built up and it was succeeding. Building a company from the ground up is a lot of work, stress, and constant worry. So obviously I decided to do it twice. And throw in a YouTube Channel, a Blog, and developing digital products to spice things up even more.

Now, I am by no means tech savvy. Seriously, my car still had radio stations an ex-boyfriend of mine programed in all because of one simple reason. I had no idea how to change them. Learning to build a website, develop a brand, a marketing strategy, a YouTube channel, writing a blog, these were all skills I never knew. If I could go back to my college days I would tell myself to take some marketing and videography courses just for the hell of it. Because now I contemplate fitting in those college courses into my busy adult life just to figure out what the hell I'm doing.

In the end, looking back at how much my life has changed in two years, it's all incredible. I started a business, build it from the ground up, and now I'm doing it again in my forever home. Someday I can only hope this daydream of mine will support my family. If I could, I would call that ice cream company and thank them for all they taught me. Then I would thank them for being one of the first businesses to shut down and leave me unemployed indefinitely. If it wasn't for them I never would've had the courage to start my own business and fight for it as hard as I have.

Covid changed my life. It changed it all for the better.

You can follow along this journey by subscribing to emails, subscribing to my YouTube Channel, or following my business socials. Comment and tell me what you think, or if my story has helped in any way. Until next time.

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