The Bottom Line: Low-fat desserts find a niche with sales on the Web
By Darrell Smith, Sacramento Bee
Published: Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 | Page 1D
Click Here to visit the Penny's Low-Fat Desserts webstore on GourmetFoodMall
BAKED GOODS BUSINESS: Penny Pearl's company is taking a virtual bite of the multibillion-dollar baked goods industry...
Her online bakery – Penny's Low Fat Desserts Inc., (pennyslowfatdesserts.com) which offers low-fat, low-calorie cookies and muffins – takes orders online, then ships the sweets to customers nationwide. The Grass Valley businesswoman talked with The Bee about how – and why – she runs a Web-based company.
An online bakery sounds highly unusual. How did you decide to become an Internet-only business?
(I was baking for friends) and started to get questions from people like, 'Do you sell online? I have a sister in New York.' … Early on, it was very difficult to get into stores. I had to contend with brokers and distributors. The stores want you to go through their brokers – that's a lot of time and investment.
How did you get started?
I did a lot of research, a lot of reading, went to a lot of trade shows. Both my husband and myself have marketing and sales experience … and I have a nutrition degree from Rutgers. But my real mentors were my parents. They had a brick-and-mortar business … a camera store. The seed money was a family investment. We had no angel (investor), no VCs (venture capital). I spent as the business grew.
Why the focus on low-fat desserts?
I've always been on a weight loss plan. And I believe in healthy eating. There are so many people (dieting) who have to have their sweets. They want to eat healthy, stay on their diet plan and eat something delicious.
You outsource much of your business. How does that work with a bakery?
(We utilize) Sacramento-based experts, including the commercial bakery, our food scientist, a Web developer and artist, our Internet marketing and PR professionals. Once customers place their orders, the bakery packs and ships their desserts and tracking information is sent to the (customer's) e-mail.
What are the advantages of an online business?
I can really control my travel and my time. There's a lot of flexibility with the Internet because you can create specials, do blogging and find ways to reward customers. One of the greatest challenges for an online bakery is getting the word out … (with) paid advertising on health-related Web sites, an effective Web design with detailed product descriptions and easy ordering and search-engine marketing.