You spent your 20s working toward building your dream career, but now that you’re in your 30s, what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you’re now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a job, a city, or just a new way of life. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we’re debuting a new series, Second Life. Each week, we’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.
Sarah Jones Garibaldi always knew she wanted to pursue a career in baking and while she did eventually found her own baking company, her career path wasn't as linear as one might expect. Long before launching Miss Jones Baking Co., Garibaldi was studying accounting in college. "I've always wanted to do something in baking, but I could never quite figure out what that would be, so I decided to major in accounting because I thought that would be a good background for me to have to start my own business one day," the entrepreneur explains.
After stints in consulting at PwC and as a finance and supply chain analyst at Apple, Garibaldi couldn't let go of her itch to create a food business. "I realized there wasn't a better-for-you baking brand and decided I would set out to create the first," she tells MyDomaine. It took years for the passionate baker to leave her job and pursue her own company full time, but Garibaldi calls the time it took to get the business up and running "a blessing in disguise."
Ahead, the founder and CEO shares how she launched a company after many long nights and weekends spent fine-tuning her product and business plan, including her biggest lessons learned and the mistakes she made along the way.
Tell us about your first career path.
I’ve always wanted to do something in baking, but I could never quite figure out what that would be. My first job was as a hostess in high school, which gave me some exposure to the restaurant industry. My next job was as a baker in college, which gave me exposure to working in a bakery. Neither felt like it was the right thing for me, so I decided to major in accounting because I thought that would be a good background for me to have to start my own business one day.
I ended up taking a job with PwC out of college working in their M&A advisory group. I started a baking blog on the side as my creative outlet and also hosted weekly bake-offs in the office where I would try to make a copycat version of a local bakery’s signature baked good, and my co-workers would complete to a blind taste test to vote on which was better.
After PwC I took a job with Apple in supply chain strategy, and it was there that I met a co-worker who had started his own food brand in college. He told me more about it, and after a while, I started to think that maybe I could start my own food brand. After spending hours walking the aisles of grocery stores, I realized there wasn’t a better-for-you baking brand and decided I would set out to create the first.
How did you make the transition from working in finance to running your own baking company?
I started working on the concept for Miss Jones Baking Co. in 2011 but didn't quit my job to work on it full-time until early 2015. It took many hours after work at night and on weekends to not only validate the opportunity, but to actually create the products, figure out the manufacturing, and finalize the branding. It ended up being a blessing in disguise that it took me so long to launch the company because I don't think the market was ready for our brand in 2011.
Tell us about your current career path.
I'm the founder and CEO of Miss Jones Baking Co. We're building a generational baking brand focused on using real ingredients to create products that are not only convenient and but also deliver from-scratch taste.
What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers and why?
I would say in previous careers I was too shy and not aggressive enough about making sure I got what I needed from external parties I worked with. Once I started Miss Jones, there was no choice but to always get what I needed, which forced me to build more confidence and feel more comfortable being persistent.
What triggered your need to change this time around?
When you have your own company, you can't take "no" for an answer. You have to figure out how to get a “yes" from everyone you work with day after day. “No" is not an option.
Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
It marries my two passions, which are baking and finance. I love numbers and I love baking. It’s the best possible combination for me.
What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
Big changes are hard. You need to have a strong support system in place to help you tackle the challenges you’re going to face and to push you to keep going when you don’t think you can anymore.
How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
Well, I was pretty cautious about it. As I mentioned, it took me four years from concept to launch, and that was due to me trying to be as confident as possible that our company would be successful. Ultimately I took prototypes of our product to a trade show and received the validation I needed from retail buyers that there was a market for our brand and products.
What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
Getting our recipes and manufacturing right was really difficult at first. It forced me to spend months at our manufacturer during our first year. We lost a fair amount of money working through these issues, but it ultimately made me the most educated person on our product and manufacturing process, which allowed us to eventually find the right solutions and make amazing products.
What do you love most about your current role and why?
I get to work with really awesome people both internally and externally, and I get to delight our customers with awesome products. The people I work with and for are what make this job rewarding.
When you look back and reflect on your previous career, do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decision?
I’m actually really happy with how everything worked out. I tried to be strategic about my career path by choosing opportunities that would give me the skills to start my own business one day, and by continuing to explore my passion for baking in different roles and creative outlets. Those collective experiences gave me what I need to be successful in my current role.
What advice do you have for other women who want to take a leap but fear change?
Do everything you can to help validate that this is the right change for you. Find a mentor who can help you think through a big change, test-drive your new role through an internship or by shadowing someone else, or find another way to really understand what this change would mean for you and your lifestyle.
What is the best piece of career or life advice you've ever received?
Just keep going.
For more inspiring stories from successful women who've made major career changes, tune into MyDomaine's Second Life podcast.