1.What is Harvard Sweet Boutique? Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Harvard Sweet Boutique is an all-natural online and retail gourmet bakery that specializes in handmade cookies, brownies, toffees, truffles and more. We also offer low-carbohydrate, gluten-free, sugar-free and now vegan treats for those with dietary needs.
I started the business in 2007 as an ecommerce shop selling delicious food gift packages to customers across the country. I opened a storefront bakery in Hudson, Massachusetts about four years ago as well. All online purchases are available in individual orders or bulk purchases and include customized packaging with a selection of themed boxes, ribbon styles and countless colors to make each gift perfect for every recipient.
2. What inspired you to launch the Harvard Sweet Boutique?
I was previously a software engineer for 10 years and then a program manager for Digital Equipment Corporation, now Hewlett-Packard. I realized after being in the corporate world that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to combine my passion for fresh, high-quality baking, creativity and computer skills into my own business. That’s when I started Harvard Sweet Boutique as an ecommerce site in 2007. I started the business as an ecommerce site so I could reach a national audience and I saw a need for unique gift alternatives.
3. What problem does Harvard Sweet Boutique solve?
We package our treats in whimsical boxes with colorful ribbons that can be shipped right to the recipients’ doorstep (or your doorstep) for an easy gifting solution. You can forget about shopping, baking and shipping. It’s much easier to go to HarvardSweetBoutique.com, pick out a yummy gift and let us ship it anywhere in the U.S. for you. We’re also experts on shipping food and that saves the customer from having to worry about the cookies breaking or truffles melting in the mail. We handle it all for you!
Some people are also very hard to buy gifts for. We solve this problem because everyone likes food, especially sweet treats! You can’t go wrong with buying someone something delicious. Each holiday season we experience more corporate bulk orders because we’re solving the problem companies have when trying to determine what to send their clients. We’re a one-stop shop for all food gifts and we deliver each package in a gorgeous gift box, so it looks and feels personal. You can even add a personal note online to be sent with your packages!
4. What has been your biggest challenge starting Harvard Sweet Boutique and how are you working to overcome it?
Running Harvard Sweet Boutique alone without a business partner has been a challenge and can sometimes be tougher than I imagined. I love being in control and driving the vision for my business at all times, but it would be nice to have assistance sometimes, too. Because of this, mentorship is even more important. I’m overcoming the challenge by recognizing my business has different focus areas and target audiences, and I’ve discovered that reaching out to professionals that are experts in their niche fields’ works best when looking for a mentor. This approach to mentorship works better for me than having a single formal mentor.
5. Give us one word that people might use to describe you?
Passionate. I am very passionate about ensuring each item we make is created with only the finest high quality ingredients. I am also passionate about giving back to my local community and causes close to my heart. Last, but certainly not least, I am passionate about the relationships in my life. My family and friends have supported me and my business from the start and they inspire me to continue doing what I love.
6. What milestone do you hope Harvard Sweet Boutique would have surpassed one year from now?
It will be an exciting year ahead as 2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Harvard Sweet Boutique online shop opening and the 5-year anniversary of opening the Harvard Sweet Boutique storefront bakery in Hudson, Massachusetts! These milestones are huge for me and I’m so excited to celebrate how far we’ve come with our loyal customers. I’m not sure yet how we’ll celebrate this momentous occasion, but we will do something fun and memorable for sure.
7. How has Project Eve helped you and or Harvard Sweet Boutique?
I haven’t worked with them yet!
8. Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or the startup story for Harvard Sweet Boutique?
Businesses in the food and beverage industry should continue changing and updating product lines constantly to align with current market trends. As an example, special dietary items will continue to get more attention, so businesses should be prepared to evolve with trends like these. I continue to add menu items that are gluten-free, sugar-free, low-carb and vegan for this exact purpose! In fact, our gluten-free treats are some of the most popular items sold.
About Sue George:
Sue George is the founder and owner of Harvard Sweet Boutique, an online and retail gourmet bakery featuring all-natural cookies, brownies, toffee and more. Her team makes specialty treat assortments for made-to-order individual and corporate gifts that can be delivered nationwide in a wide selection of beautiful and whimsical packaging. For more information, visit www.harvardsweetboutique.com.
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