“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu
During the fall of 2009, I attended a week-long leadership workshop in North Carolina. This was a wonderful learning and growth experience, and one I still hold close to me today. The day I arrived, I sat next to a young woman, unknown to me at the time. Our group that week was small – 7 participants. And our time together was also, very much a "getting to know you at a deep level" experience. Good, good stuff.
Back to that young woman, though. Her name…Angie Kenny. A soul-filled person, supporting the growth of a local hotel in neighboring Greensboro. We connected over that week together, and have continued our friendship and support of each other since that time.
A few months after this workshop, Angie shared with me that her real passion was baking. Not only that, she was going to give it a shot – going after her dream (awesome, isn't it!). And that's exactly what she did – and today, nearly two years later, she has a thriving business, Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery, servicing the Greensboro area and the world!
Her motto: Gluten-Free + Vegan + All Love (so, so fitting for this lovely soul!)
Read below as Angie shares a part of this journey toward her true peak.
Angie and Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery
I am a dreamer. I’m also a Gemini, so I like to do a lot of things and dream up a lot of ideas. I like to learn things to help me grow and to just have an experience with life. I’ve moved away from the thought that you “choose one thing to do and do it”, career-wise. I wasn’t conscious about this philosophy until I looked at my job history. I’ve had experience in interior design, farming, filmmaking, serving afternoon tea, assisting a brilliant CEO and now working in a bakery.
This is not a status list; it’s from where I’ve traveled so I value it as a snapshot of my life. I also see the trajectory of my choices. One decision to learn a new skill set (read: overcome fear or reservation) became a stepping stone to the next learning experience. I only had to apply (basically) one thing: my heart.
Most of the “adult” career or job choices I’ve made were led by my heart and not by social pressures or a dollar sign. Sure I wrote down the pros and cons of each move (I am an arduous list maker), weighed options, took a deep breath and took a dive…
My current position in life is no exception. I am a baker. I own Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery, and I started this business from my heart and with a few business skills picked up from my previous – full-time, salaried, with benefits! – job at a very successful hotel and restaurant company.
My heart and my tummy moved me! I had to go gluten-free a few years ago, which is not an easy lifestyle change. I was hungry! I couldn’t find any good cookie to eat and worse, I wasn’t able to eat my grandmother’s most delicious pumpkin cake. I knew that if I was looking for something good to eat, then there were others out there looking for the same thing.
I realized that in helping myself to a good cookie, I could help others. I would help others in opening a bakery business. AND, I wanted to touch everyone, not just those who are gluten-free and vegan.
This became part of Zen Cat’s mission statement: to create great desserts and bakery products that are gluten-free and vegan (did I mention vegan??), that are more healthful and that appeal to everyone. I want to bake with mindfulness, with love. I want love and well-being to be the ingredients, along with organic sugar and fair trade cocoa. You don’t have to be gluten-free or vegan to enjoy Zen Cat Bakery’s Oh Snap! Triple Ginger Cookie…you just have to love a good cookie!
What this experience has brought me thus far: joy, sweat, tears, happiness, fear, surprise, fatigue, discipline, determination, many friendly faces and love. All those things you get when you are following your path of heart.
There are 2 things that keep me going
1 – When I ask myself “Can I do it, can I run a bakery business?” I remember my husband’s reply when I asked him this question early on: “You are doing it”. Present moment lesson for me.
2 – Curiosity. My CEO friend emphasized the act of being curious in life. Ask questions, find answers. This helps in figuring out new recipes, new markets, business strategies, and of course what makes me tick, what makes others tick.
For good measure, there’s a 3rd – My dreams and ideas keep me going: What’s next? How can I grow the bakery? What new healthful creation will people love to eat? And the inevitable: what comes after the bakery, what’s next on my life’s journey?
Angie has recently began selling her delicious baked goods through Etsy, opening the world up to her yummy treats!! (check them out – they are a delight!)
I've tried several of her products, and have JUST received my second batch of brownies (my favorite!!). From the packaging, to the personal note of thanks, to the care and love I know goes into everything she bakes – Angie has created amazing and delicious baked goods that satisfy a gluten-free diet, while not sacrificing taste that some might expect from gluten-free food. I eat these just because they taste great!!