How 4 Chefs and Bakers Started Businesses on Instagram


  • Pandemic furloughs left many cooks, bakers, and restaurant staff uncertain of their subsequent transfer.
  • With social media and newfound time to make use of it, these creatives began their very own companies.
  • They scaled by taking orders through DMs, promoting pop-ups, and getting featured by native papers.
  • See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

The yr 2020 does not sometimes convey the phrase “opportunity” to thoughts. But for the homeowners of 4 small companies within the Bay Area, the pandemic served as a much-needed likelihood to decelerate and pursue their very own long-anticipated endeavors. 

“I think the pandemic accelerated a lot of necessary change,” Michael Barrett, founder and proprietor of Bicycle Pies in Oakland, instructed Insider.

After leaving the restaurant trade, both by selection or because of furloughs, these entrepreneurs all began their new ventures with an surprising ally: Instagram.

Edith’s Pie went from baking 15 pies per week to 50 per week

two men sitting at a blue table and chairs

Mike Raskin and Jeff Wright.

Edith’s Pie


Mike Raskin, previously a sous chef and lead line prepare dinner in Chicago, left the restaurant trade voluntarily simply earlier than the pandemic began because of poisonous working circumstances.

For Raskin, staying inside throughout quarantine served as an incredible alternative to honor his mom, Edith, by baking pies out of his dwelling in East Oakland. To tout his new passion, he created an Instagram account: Edith’s Pie.

A put up shared by Edith’s Pie (@edithspieoakland)

Raskin mentioned Instagram was the very best place to start out Edith’s Pie as a result of he might simply put up his new menus that modified from week to week.

The account started with simply 30 followers, all of whom had been beforehand following Raskin’s skilled web page.

“Soon word started to spread,” he mentioned, by way of strategies similar to word-of-mouth, strategic Instagram promoting, and a vital blog-post point out. Eventually, he went from baking 15 to 20 pies per week to 50 per week, all out of his dwelling kitchen.

Jeff Wright, additionally a former restaurant worker, heard about Edith’s Pie by way of the grapevine and determined to put an order for a raspberry-lemonade icebox pie by messaging Raskin by way of Edith’s Pie’s Instagram account. When he pulled as much as Raskin’s quiet avenue, he was stunned to see automobiles lining the block. “I’d never seen anything like it before,” Wright mentioned.

Wright occurred to be within the technique of serving to different small companies with crucial licensing and provided that very same service to Raskin, who gratefully accepted. The two turned enterprise companions, finally transferring Edith’s Pie to a kitchen house on 14th St. in Oakland.

Raskin and Wright, who had been each let down by the customarily problematic tradition of the restaurant trade, are trying ahead to main by instance as Edith’s Pie continues to develop. “If we’re going to create a business in the new wave of hospitality, we need to show people what hospitality can be,” Wright mentioned. 

L.H. Bakeshop is seeking to develop to brick-and-mortar after efficiently rising on-line

women in an apron holding baked goods outside

Lyndsay Hope Pullem.

L.H. Bakeshop


Lyndsay Hope Pullem, previously a pastry chef at One Market Restaurant alongside the San Francisco Embarcadero, was within the restaurant trade for 25 years earlier than getting furloughed at first of the pandemic.

A few months later, Pullem began L.H. Bakeshop, a small cottage bakery that solely sells vegan baked items. 

A put up shared by L. H. Bakeshop (@lhbakeshop)

“I’ve always wanted to start my own business, but working so hard in the restaurant industry, I never thought it was attainable,” Pullem mentioned.

By beginning up L.H. Bakeshop, Pullem mentioned that she feels “100% good” about the way in which her enterprise aligns along with her ethics.

“The restaurant industry is very meat-centric, and I always felt like I was being complicit to Big Ag by working with meat,” she mentioned. Now, Pullem’s vegan creations not solely do not adjust to manufacturing facility farming however assist to point out prospects that there is a strategy to take pleasure in pastries with out using meat and dairy.

Additionally, 10% of L.H. Bakeshop’s gross sales go to animal sanctuaries across the Bay Area.

As for Instagram, Pullem mentioned that she appreciated its “broad reach,” which helped her begin from nothing to changing into a enterprise seeking to transfer to a brick-and-mortar location within the close to future.

The app’s options, together with the flexibility to tag companies, reshare tales, and share the situation of pop-ups as they’re occurring, helped L.H. Bakeshop develop into identified regionally.

“If your product is good, your following will grow,” Pullem mentioned, “so long as you are consistent, reliable, friendly, and have a quality product to offer.”

Arepas En Bici grew to 15 deliveries a day after the proprietor was featured in an article

a chef taking photos of his food in an industrial kitchen

Victor Aguilera.

Arepas En Bici


A former kitchen supervisor at The Brixton in San Francisco, Victor Aguilera discovered himself laid off with out unemployment advantages at first of the pandemic. 

Originally from Venezuela, Aguilera began an Instagram account for his arepas, a consolation meals he’d been making his whole life. “Think about a pita bread that’s soft on the inside and fresh on the outside. And you can fill it with whatever you want,” Aguilera mentioned. “I started out with three customers at first, very slow.”

A put up shared by Victor Aguilera (@arepasenbici)

However, in April of final yr, an SF Eater article, which was drawn to Aguilera for his capability to pivot and distinctive sort of delicacies, modified every thing.

“I woke up and had so many texts and DM’s on my phone. After that, I started doing 15 deliveries a day,” Aguilera mentioned. 

Now, Aguilera is in the midst of searching for a everlasting location for his enterprise and employs associates and former restaurant coworkers to assist him out just a few days per week.

Bicycle Pies leveraged DM’s to achieve its prospects

pies sitting on a wooden ledge with a license plate

The Bicycle Pies supply window.

Bicycle Pies


A former workers member of eating places together with Che Fico, Haven, and Plum Bar, Barrett created an Instagram account for what began as a enjoyable aspect undertaking, Bicycle Pies, after being furloughed from a front-of-house place final March. 

A put up shared by Bicycle Pies (@bicyclepies)

When Bicycle Pies first began, prospects would ship Barrett their order by way of Instagram, and would then come to select up their pie by way of the opening within the aspect of the fence surrounding Barrett’s Oakland dwelling that served as a kind of “delivery window.”

Since then, Bicycle Pies has blown up and serves as Barrett’s full-time job.

To efficiently market his enterprise by way of Instagram, Barrett tries to maintain his content material thematically constant and be sure occasions, similar to pop-ups or collaborations, are featured on Bicycle Pies’ account.

However, Barrett describes himself as “pretty shy, Internet-wise,” and that for others in the same place to him, he would suggest “Instagram giveaways, partnerships, or advertising” to extend an account’s following.

“For me, food is comfort and a coping mechanism,” Barrett mentioned.

When requested if he’d return to a restaurant job if provided one proper now, Barrett mentioned that he would not, as creating and working Bicycle Pies has “allowed him to live a more healthy lifestyle.” Working for himself, he added, has allowed his hobbies, relationships, and creativity to flourish in a manner that wasn’t attainable when he was within the restaurant trade.

Operating Bicycle Pies “makes me feel like I’m not just a business,” Barrett mentioned.



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