We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Holland and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amanda, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Of course, in the beginning of starting any business, and having a full-time job, you go into it with a plan and schedule of when you will set aside time for your 9-5, your business and your personal life. When you begin living it, you realize it isn’t as easy as you thought it was. I had a plan and after a few weeks I realized it wasn’t going to work. You must get creative and figure out what’s going to work for you. In the past 2 years Since my business has picked up and working at a school it was difficult at first. I’d work my 9-5 M-F, then come home and work on my orders until late in the evening, and by the weekend I would be exhausted and not have much of a social life. Now, I’ve adjusted to working, opening my business for a few times during the week, making time for family and friends and avoiding the burn out that happens when I don’t make time for myself to rest in between. I’m still working on the perfect balance that I need with my business growing and I’m determined to make it work.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve always been a very artsy person. When I was younger, I loved arts and crafts, I always wanted to go to Hobby Lobby. I learned how to sew, knit, and crochet from my grandmother. I taught myself how cross-stitch, and quill and I always made gifts for family and friends. I’m always on Pinterest for inspiration. It was not easy in the beginning for my business, because I was still learning the craft and trying different recipes. When our house was flooded in 2001 after Tropical Storm Allison, we got our house remodeled , my grandmother added 2 convection ovens to the kitchen, thus having 3 ovens total. When I graduated from college and moved back home, I decided to start baking for fun. I got a lot of feedback on what I could do better and applied it to what I already knew to make my products better. I was severely undercharging and did research and price analysis to make sure I was making a profit. When I first started my business, it was more of basic cakes and cookies and it was just a hobby, and I gave my items away for free. When I started getting requests, that’s when I turned it into a business. I got my business name from the street I live on, Bean Street, and I just added Vanilla in front of it. When people started reaching out to me asking me for the tiered cakes and decorated cookies, in the beginning I turned many orders down. But then I started watching videos and teaching myself how to decorate cakes and cookies. Learning how to do it and seeing my progress has been the most rewarding part because I think in the beginning, I can’t do something, then when I put in the work and effort and see I did it, it makes me more motivated to try more things.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I don’t go out much in Houston, but there are a few places I go when I want to get out for the weekend. I’m very low key and don’t like crowded areas, so many places I go to and very chill and quiet, and I love a good brunch with drinks. A few places I frequent for good food are Snooze, Graces, Commonbond Bakery. I like going to Holman Draft Hall, they have indoor and outdoor seating, and it is pet friendly, which I love, because I have 2 dogs, a Miniature Poodle and a Maltipoo. If I do want to listen to music and don’t mind a light crowd, if I go early enough, ill do Urban Social on a Friday Evening. I like going to Cru Wine Bar for a nice wine or bubbles flight. I’m always on the lookout for new spots in Houston. I try a spot at least one time.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who deserve credit when it comes to the success to my business, and for fear of leaving anyone out, I will say this. First, I would like to shout out my grandmother. She was a caterer, a baker, a beautician. She was extremely talented and passed on her knowledge and skills that allowed me to evolve my business. My family and friends have sowed seeds into my business from the very beginning. I’ve had friends who have given me their personal credit card to go shopping for items I needed for my business when I couldn’t afford it. Leslie Woodard was one of my first friends who believed in my dream and everything I needed, all I had to do was ask and she made it happen. My family and friends who have continually ordered from me and those who have simply reposted something or even told someone I would be perfect for their event, just a little mention goes a long way and I appreciate everyone who has helped me get my business where it is now.

Instagram: @vanillabeanstreetbakery

Facebook: Vanilla Bean Street Bakery

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