This piece originally appeared on Uncubed.com.
Sarah Jones Garibaldi always wanted baking to be her life. But the path she took to create her organic baking line, Miss Jones, was less-than-straightforward.
Some of the jobs she held along the way were an obvious match. Like when Garibaldi worked at a bakery during college, which was “maybe not quite as glamorous as I thought it would be,” she said.
Others jobs were less aligned with her interests – Garibaldi was also a supply chain financial analyst for Apple (AAPL). “It ended up being a very useful skill since I decided to start a company that makes tangible products,” she said of the experience.
Her position at Brit + Co, the e-commerce and content site for DIY projects, ultimately proved the most relevant. Garibaldi was the food editor and head of operations and commerce, and the company’s tenth employee.
“If you want to start your own company, I would highly recommend working at another startup first,” Garibaldi told us. Working at Brit + Co exposed her to “all of the nuts and bolts of starting and financing a company that most people don’t get to see.”
Garibaldi left Brit + Co in April of 2015, and by the end of the year she had lauched Miss Jones, a line of bake mixes and frostings which debuted in 1,000 stores.
“I started by taking mock products to the Fancy Food Show to gauge buyer response,” she said. “We received a ton of interest and leads from potential retailers, and I used that as a spring board to kick start our distribution.”
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Her startup training has paid off. Miss Jones line of five baking products will expand to 12 by this fall, and those new flavors like sea salt caramel frosting and confetti pop cookies will be available in 3,000 stores by the end of the year. Miss Jones has raised $3 million and is projecting $1 million in sales this year.
One of the most valuable lessons from her time at Brit + Co was the importance of a digital-first strategy, she said. What does digital content have to do with boxed cake mixes? A lot, according to Garibaldi.
Digital “is the crux of how we interact with our customers,” Garibaldi said. “In an ideal world, consumers would discover us online and on social media through our recipe content.”
“I think it can be difficult to differentiate your brand based on product alone – ultimately anyone can copy you,” she said. “Where our brand comes to life is online, where we teach and inspire our customers how to turn our products into something truly creative and delicious that will make them feel accomplished and impress their friends and family.” Miss Jones’ website is chocked full of Pinterest-worthy recipe photos, like her blood orange sour cream donuts, made using Miss Jones Organic Vanilla Cake Mix.
“Millennials (her target customers) want to bake and have a creative outlet away from our computers, but we don’t have the skills or the time that previous generations had,” Garibaldi said.
Through her baking products and digital strategy, “we’re teaching people how to create after work in an hour using shortcuts and hacks.”