An interview with Algerine and Eric Carriere of Cookie Jar Baking in Belleville’s Downtown District.
Briefly describe your business.
Cookie Jar Baking is a boutique bakery that specializes in creating stunning cakes, treats, and desserts for weddings, birthdays, and events. We’re on a mission to bring tasty European-inspired treats to Belleville, Quinte West, and the surrounding areas, and now with our new storefront at 159 Front St. in Belleville, it’s easier than ever to try our treats for yourself.
What brought you to the region?
We moved from Toronto to Belleville in 2018. What brought us here? Honestly, we wanted a family-friendly city to raise our young children. We also loved Belleville’s close proximity to provincial parks, and both Toronto and Ottawa. It had the perfect mix of everything. Fast-forward to today and we love it here. Belleville continues to change almost daily as it continues to shape itself as a great city to live in and visit.
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
Being close to Prince Edward County’s vibrant wedding scene is a huge plus. We did over 30 weddings this summer alone. Beyond that, with so many new people moving from Toronto, the GTA, and surrounding areas, there is a real need for more upscale restaurants and bakeries. We’ve heard it time and time again from our customers that they’re happy to have more options for gourmet baked treats.
Add to that the large investments being made by the City of Belleville and business development groups — and it’s clear there’s a lot of focus on developing activities, businesses, and the overall reputation of this region. There’s a lot to like!
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
My background is in the tech industry, so it’s been an interesting learning curve switching from that mindset. A bakery is a physical business with different overhead costs when compared to my SaaS-based business with very little overhead.
Luckily, I’ve taken my lessons learned from tech and adapted them to Cookie Jar. Early on, it’s allowed us to scale and grow by providing the best possible customer experience, both online and in-store.
If you ask my wife, the talent behind all of the baking, it’s coming to terms with those 4 AM starts. A lot of planning, prepping, and hard work goes into baking everything each day.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
Keep your costs as low as possible early on. Prove your concept. Don’t go all-in on an untested idea. Gauge interest with a tester campaign to see if people actually want your product or service.
You also need to learn how to use the technology you need to support your business. There are so many amazing platforms available to businesses in all industries that can streamline all areas of your operations and you don’t need to be “techy” to use them.
But more importantly, accept that you may need to wear many hats early on. You may be required to create/provide your products/services, handle your social media, and get your business off the ground.
How do you like to spend your days off?
We’re big fans of visiting the many provincial parks and hiking trails in the area. Nothing beats the fresh air.
If you could have one word tattooed on you, what would it be?
Eric: “Do It” – I’m a big believer in trying new things, especially if they break us out of our comfort zone.
Algerine: “My kid’s names or family” – My kids and my husband are the loves of my life and my motivation for everything I do.