Thinking Outside the Gift Box!

This holiday season is already filled with such amazing highlights. We created our first digital gift card and launched it with a great offer for our customers on Cyber Monday, making it our most successful ever. Which made me think about all the presents the bakery has gotten throughout the year. We've been opening up sweet surprises. And selfishly, when the bakery does "good", it makes me feel good too. My company is as close to my heart now as it was when I first put the key in the door. We are linked much more deeply than merely paperwork.

Going into 2013, my team at The Protein Bakery had some very lofty goals. 1. To create a fresh-baked product for a niche market that's on-the go. Voila the Mini! (In four delicious flavors, bien sur.) It's now one of our bestsellers. 2. To expand our brand into the UK, the other other coast! And while we don't necessarily know yet what exactly that looks like, the feedback has been whey positive and already the press there has taken notice. 3. To expand the space at the home office, here in NYC. Because we were getting packed as tight as one of our gift boxes. It evolved into a much needed Sweet Spot— our very cool retail show room to not only display all our protein-packed treats but a full-sized space to make all our famous gift boxes. Our customers can choose their treats in comfort, chat with us in comfort, and discover the latest bakery news. All in Sweet 309. Up on the ninth floor, we now have a test kitchen and our corporate office. To have both spaces side by side has been a dream of mine. My mind is known to wander from A to...anything. So I love that I can be in two places at once! Now people can come and experience the vision that I have always had in my mind—upstairs and downstairs. 4. To update our website so that it's user-friendly and an easy, fun experience for our healthy-minded, curious, snack-savvy customers. 5. To maintain an interesting and unique social media voice that encourages people to express themselves. That is really why we have those accounts. I want to hear from my customers! These recipes are nothing without their opinions and complete satisfaction. Their feedback on "adding balance to their life everyday" will always be my number one focus. Because that's why I started this bakery, to take control of my food issues. It shouldn't be the other way around. Spread the health. Make it fun! 6. To earn the respect of my peers for doing what I love. We had an appearance on Bobby Deen's "Not My Mama's Meals" on Cooking Channel. Bobby Deen stopped in to get my opinions on how to bake smart snacks. Two fellow foodies talking shop. What a special opportunity. To be noticed by people in the food industry and see it air on prime time. How weird and wonderful to set my DVR to watch myself in the kitchen with Bobby Deen!

All these events will propel me and therefore my bakery forward. I thrive on things in my life being meaningful, having a purpose. And I hope to always bring that to the bakery. And the bakery experience.

This bakery would be meaningless without the valuable people that help keep it cooking so smoothly. Nancy makes sense of all my ideas and brings my voice to life in words as well as in countless pictures. Jo translates every new sales item we throw at her onto our website and makes it the best experience ever. Siljian and the staff in the Sweet Spot work their hardest to fill every order perfectly. Siljian's management skills are top-notch. He has earned my utmost respect. I surrender that hat to him entirely. Adele is our tireless ambassador in the UK, working her hardest to transform our vision and our best first impression to a whole new world. And most importantly Keyth, my business partner in all things bakery. There aren't enough reigns to hand this man. His broad stroke approach plus his nonstop passion for the company's potential continue to push us in new directions. Not only as a small business but as an expanding business with no concept of size. He has reshaped how we run. He sees what I cannot. And it inspires me to only dream bigger. That is an amazing gift.

As I celebrate my Protein Bakery family, I urge you all to do the same with yours. Whatever that family looks like, celebrate it. No...really, take a moment and celebrate it! Support systems are important. And nothing has shown me that more than my simple idea "hey, let's add protein to a cookie and make it healthier." 14 years later it has brought me more than I could ever imagine. I couldn't get where I am without the help of those who are there for me. Always.

Happy Holidays to everyBODY!

Stephen Charles Lincoln