With 2017 now here, I am also "here." At our new flagship store. Every day, I have the pleasure of opening and closing the front gate at 144 W. 19th Street. What a great feeling. It took me by surprise how significant it is for the bakery to have a home base.
Only open a month and already people are walking in, sharing so many Protein Bakery memories. 18 years' worth of moments I'm finally getting to hear first-hand. Like this one:
"I remember you back in '99, just getting started. When you'd walk in to teach class, I was always hoping to see you carrying those two big bakery bags. I knew, if I could make it through the next 50 minutes, there'd be this sweet reward."
These days, whatever any of us are shopping for, it seems more natural to search for it online. To touch a screen rather than take a walk. The more digital your presence, the better. So why, after 18 years, did I decide to transform the bakery into a brick and mortar store on a street in NYC? It's not like proteinbakery.com hasn't introduced me to thousands of incredibly loyal retail customers and wholesale clients. It's not like shipping orders nationwide hasn't been satisfying for this small business owner (me). But the truth is, I've always dreamed of having "a home" for the bakery. I've grappled with this question over the years. Now? Soon? Never?
Here we are again, that time of the year when summer and fall co-exist. Where my fading suntan meets cooler air and falling leaves. Living 3000 miles away from my hometown, it's always a little tough when the seasons change. It inevitably reminds me the holidays are coming and that I'm far from family in the Bay Area. Hopefully I'll visit them for Thanksgiving or maybe around Christmas, but it all depends on what New York has up her sleeve. Because this never-sleeping city is where my roots are firmly planted now. The energy here suits me; I don't want to live anywhere else. And that ain't bad.
I love summer! I love riding my bike around the city. I love hearing music coming from a rooftop party, mixed by a DJ with a great groove. I love how New York empties out and you can actually... get a table! I love the extra (very precious) space. I love feeling the sun on my back while I shop at the Union Square Greenmarket.
Back in 1996, nobody cared what was trending, the phrase "phone booth" was still in play and so were the quarters needed to operate it. New York City was a melting pot on full-boil—a hot bed of art and creativity. My "shiny key." I traveled from San Francisco with nothing but hopes, dreams and the money I had from selling my car. Luckily, my best friend since high school lived here and I was able to stay with him. This would mark the beginning of my true adult life.
I love my life. I love when it snows in New York City. I love a perfectly tied bow on top of a gift tin. I love texts from my family. I love the way my dog Elphaba looks at me every morning. I love the way my other dog, Salty Pretzel snuggles close to me all night long. I love when the bakery is empty and there's a full stack of orders waiting to go out. I love good lighting. I love when a warm rain washes all the snow away. I love giving my seat to somebody on the subway. I love when people pick up litter. I love a walk down the Westside Highway with both of my dogs. I love laughing so hard my face hurts. I love designing a new T-shirt. I love that spiced-up kick in my Ginger Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I love signing a check to pay people that make my visions at work come true. I love believing in hope. I love seeing Idina Menzel on Broadway.
Someone I recently met at a dinner party stopped me while I was telling him what I do for a living and said, "How do you do so much and have that much energy?" I replied that I have a great team of people that help me out and I have wonderful role models that inspire me, like Madonna. She’s a Rebel Heart.
Anyone who knows me knows that Madonna is as likely to come up in conversation as whey protein is. And after experiencing her Rebel Heart Tour, she has re-energized my creative spirit. She truly is a rebel in the business world, answering to no one but herself. She will not be pigeon-holed. She will not let anyone else define her limits....