Wired Women: Maura Duggan4:10 PM
Wired Women profiles successful women with ties to Boston who are pursuing their passions. These women serve as an inspiration not only to myself, but to women and girls everywhere who are eager to make waves in their field. This month's Wired Woman is Maura Duggan, President of Fancypants Baking Co. I was introduced to Maura's cookies years ago and they are my all-time favorite cookies. (You know this if you follow along with me on Snapchat). Crunchy, delicious, wholesome; I've been known to snack on them at breakfast. Read more about Maura below...
Style Wire: You're a smartypants in addition to running Fancypants-- your degree is in neuroscience and education. How did that switch come about?
Maura Duggan: Before I started Fancypants, I worked for several years with students who were deaf-blind at the Perkins School for the Blind (Watertown, MA). The job made a big impact on me, and years later after graduate school, I found myself thinking about ways that I could spend more time helping people with disabilities. The idea of baking popped into my head. I started thinking about whether I could actually make a living by combining baking and working with people with disabilities. It’s taken a long time, but today, one of the things I’m most proud of is that we employ adults with disabilities to help us package cookies.
SW: Did you always have an interest in baking? What sparked it?
MD: Yes, I’ve always loved baking! Growing up, my grandmother lived across the street and she was always making something delicious – most often cookies, but also fresh pies and gooey brownies. My mother also bakes; birthdays are not complete without one of her cakes! So, although I sort of stumbled upon baking as a career, it’s also been part of my life.
SW: You've worked hard to get Fancypants Cookies into grocery stores around the country; what has been the most challenging part of this journey?
MD: It’s definitely been a huge challenge! I think the hardest part is learning how to set up, and now running a manufacturing facility every day – I’ve had to learn how to do everything from recipe development, to scaling recipes, to making sales pitches, to hiring employees and paying bills – all at once!
SW: What's the biggest lesson you've learned running your own business?
MD: Trust your gut. There’s no one way to run a successful business. It’s important to watch what other people are doing and listen to ideas, but at the end of the day, make decisions that feel right for you.
SW: What does a typical work day look like for you?
MD: There really isn’t a typical work day for me. I love to squeeze in a workout early in the morning and get in to the office by 7am. I always drink (gulp?) several cups of coffee as I check email. Usually I check in with our operations director and department managers to see what we’re baking and decorating for the day. Then, I usually have meetings from 9am on. On any one day I could be meeting with our team about improving manufacturing practices or another team to talk about packaging design. There’s always something new happening and the days fly by. I also travel quite a bit for meetings and trade shows so I might be planning parts of those trips, too. When I’m at the office, though, I try to leave around 4 or 5pm – I race home and throw on my sneakers and head to the playground with my 2 boys (ages 3 and 6).
SW: What do you think makes Crunch cookies stand out? What's your favorite flavor/why?
MD: What I love about our Crunch cookies is that they taste completely homemade – and yet still have only 100 calories per serving! We use ingredients that anyone can find at their local store like cage free eggs and King Arthur flour so they’re really a guilt free snack. My favorite is our classic chocolate chip. There’s just something about the having a bit of chocolate, but not overly sweet, that gets me every time. Being a parent it makes me proud to know that we make a delicious treat, that is both school safe and made using ingredients that I’m happy to feed my own children.
SW: How do you stay motivated when you are your own boss?
MD: Complacency is a silent killer and my awesome team at Fancypants reminds me of that every day. Their constant drive, enthusiasm, and ideas for the future are all I need to keep me motivated and my head in the game.
SW: When you're not working what do you like to do in your free time?
MD: I’m training for a Sprint Triathlon this fall – so these days you could usually find me doing laps in a pool!
SW: Nothing pairs better with cookies than coffee, what's your favorite coffeeshop and how do you take your coffee?
MD: I love El Recreo in West Roxbury. The owners are a husband-and-wife team who actually source the coffee beans from their family coffee bean farm in Nicarugua. The taste is unreal! They are the friendliest people, and I love supporting small business. I’m a no frills coffee drinker – just black.
SW: What's the best piece of advice you can offer to fellow female entrepreneurs?
MD: Believe in yourself. If you have an idea that you think can work, go for it! When I studied neuroscience 20 years ago, there were not a lot of females in the field but I loved everything about it and wanted to be part of it. The same thing goes for entrepreneurship, if you have an idea that you love – do it and don’t let anything get in the way.
Follow along with Maura and her adventures with Fancypants Baking on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!