Becoming A Baker

Scones, pizzelle, macaroon, biscotti… these are all standard items on the Philo Collective bakery menu that you’ve come to know and love. As of just a few years ago, I had never even tasted these delicious European-inspired treats, let alone attempted to bake them. Before opening Philo Collective, I felt like I was in a rut in my career and was pursuing an MBA without any plans of ever putting it to good use. Now here we are in 2022, and I’m the co-owner of a certified home bakery and I spend much of my free time in the kitchen. I don’t know what is more surprising to my parents, the fact that I own a bakery or that I am constantly doing dishes (which was my most avoided chore growing up!)

When I look back at the events over the past few years that lead me to this place in business it all seems quite serendipitous. However, as a person of faith, I can see how God was constantly at work in my life in ways I didn’t understand and could have never imagined.

If you’re new around here, my name is Emily and I am the (often behind the scenes) co-owner of Philo Collective. My best friend and business partner, Lo, was the creative mastermind behind the inception of Philo Collective and is the star baker of this operation. She has traveled to many of the European countries and tasted the authentic treats that inspired our menu and has developed and refined each of our recipes. I’ve gladly done a lot of taste testing along the way!

When I first joined forces with Lo, we didn’t know exactly what my role in the business would be. All I knew is that I enjoyed being part of the late-night strategy sessions and had a desire to help make this big dream happen! Over time, we realized that my skills lent themselves to handling our finances, doing much of the business paperwork, and planning our social media content. However, as baking picked up for our first year at the Kankakee Farmers’ Market, slowly but surely some of my time and attention shifted to the kitchen.

While Lo was mastering our recipes, you could typically find me helping measure out ingredients and washing dishes. We quickly realized that 20 hours of baking was not realistic for one person to tackle on a weekly basis (on top of a full-time and part-time job) so with LOTS of supervision, I began learning a few of our recipes. Lo started me out on the simplest recipes and watched my every move to help me learn all the proper techniques. When I finally flew solo on couple of our recipes, I still managed to mess up some steps at first. (What exactly does “fluffy” look like in biscotti batter?!? I’m still not quite sure when to quit beating…)  

In the past few years, I’ve gone from feeling lost in my career and unclear about the future to starting an MBA program just because I could, and then unexpectedly opening a business with my best friend having no clue how I fit into the plan. Now I am a partner in a growing business where I can confidently make things like macaroons, pizzelle, biscotti, and scones all on my own. It has been a journey of taking risks and learning to dream and I’ve found out that you should never underestimate yourself. So let yourself dream! I don’t know where you’ll go or what you’ll become, but if it’s anything like my journey of becoming a baker, I can assure you that it’s bound to be unexpectedly sweet.

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