La Momo Maes is a family-owned-and-run bakery in Longmont, and Michelle Brietzke is the daughter in the mother-daughter team. With a marketing background, and with a mom who makes a mean cake, they seem to have it all. Of course, owning a small business presents it’s challenges. We spoke to Brietzke about it all.L
Yellow Scene: Tell us a little about your background. Didn’t you have a career in marketing?
Michelle Brietzke: I went to college for math and statistics, because I really have a numbers mind. I figured out that there were other extra-curricular activities in college that took me away from studying (laughs). So I quickly changed my major to fit my social schedule. So the first seven-and-a-half years of my career were in marketing, advertising and public relations. I always had that love of numbers, and had so much education that I wanted to get back into it. So when I was working for a company that got bought out by Intuit, I was asked to join a finance company in public relations but when they found out that I had a finance and statistical background, they asked me to join them doing that work. That’s how my career shifted. For the next seven years, I was doing finance and accounting up until I left my last job to open the bakery. It’s a very different life.
YS: So why leave all that and start a bakery?
MB: The travel became too much. I was put on a couple of projects that took me away from my family three-five days a week, and I’d had enough. The bosses – I didn’t like the way it worked and the way it felt, and it took me away from my kids. When my mom and I considered moving out here, I said “Let’s just do it. With your background in baking and my background in business, we can do this.” It gives me a chance to be with my kids more, so family was a big motivating factor.
YS: You still work long hours though…
MB: Yeah, we work a lot of hours. When we first started, I thought of volunteering, and doing all this stuff with my kids. That’s not quite the case. I am able to take them to school and pick them up every day, and they get to be at the bakery with us. My oldest daughter is 13, and she’s able to help and learn the business a little bit too. We make it fun. My kids come with me to deliver wedding cakes and we make fun little adventures out of it. If we deliver a cake up in Estes Park, then we might go off on our own after that, hiking or to a new restaurant. It’s fun, but still very busy.
YS: So you have three generations there – what’s it like working with mom?
MB: It’s interesting, working with family. It’s good though, because that’s where it all started. My mom’s mom – we have some of her recipes and that’s where the love of baking comes from. My grandma’s 88 years old and she likes to be in the kitchen with us. When she’s around, there are four generations in there. I have another grandma who passed away but we use some of her recipes too, so it’s always been a family thing.
YS: Can you use your PR and marketing skills with the business?
MB: I do. We don’t have a lot of money, so I do everything I can. I joined the Longmont Chamber, and that’s how we got the word out initially. It helped, being able to write a press release and call up media outlets.
YS: What have been the biggest challenges?
MB: The money. When we started, we took everything from our pockets and bank accounts. We didn’t get small business loans. We decided to do this with what we had. We were crazy, but it’s worked. It’s still a challenge, trying to build that up. I’d like to have another location someday. Just build up to where we can promote effectively.
YS: What are your speciality products?
MB: We specialize in cakes. That’s something that my mom has been doing for forty years. We;’re known for them. They’re light and fluffy, and we make everything fresh. Most of them are family recipes. That sets us apart from other places.
YS: What’s the appeal of Longmont?
MB: It’s just growing, and it’s a great place to have a business right now. Nine years ago, I wanted to get out of this place but I hadn’t really given it a chance and I didn’t know what it had to offer until I owned a business. The community is so supportive of local business, and I’ve never been around a city that wants to see local people succeed like that. I came from the corporate world where nobody wants to share information and everybody wants to keep success private.
La Momo Maes is located at 624 Kimbark St., Longmont; 303-834-8502; longmontbakery.com.