• Homer High School sophomore turns entrepreneur
By Naomi Klouda
Homer teenager Emma McNary likes to bake cookies and pies probably a lot more often than her family can eat them.
The love of baking started her on a business plan now in operation as Forget Me Not Sweets. At the age of 16, she is a full-blown entrepreneur whose goods are garnering happy reviews.
“I’ve always liked to bake, and I will bake regardless of who it is for,” she said. “I did a lot of research and decided this is something I can do from home.”
Emma’s mother, Janet McNary, had heard that the Department of Environmental Conservation had changed its regulations in June. The Alaska Food Code now allows producers to make low hazard foods in their home for sale directly to consumers if certain requirements are met.
That was a big hurdle, but one McNary crossed right over. She spent hours on the state website to find out the rules and put together the necessary paperwork. One of the rules is assembling written recipes and ingredient lists for DEC availability in case of an inspection.
“I priced ingredients and recipes for costs also, and figured it could work out,” she said.
To finance the start-up costs, McNary had money from her permanent fund dividend and from a job at the Harbor School of Music. She was able to launch on just a few hundred dollars.
Then she created her own blog, www.forgetmenotsweets.blogspot.com/ that gives information on her business. and she printed out fliers to circulate. On the blog, she gives information about her products, such as Miraculous Mixed Berry Pie – made with a medley of summer berries – and the Perfect Peach Pie. Not just anyone can make pie crust, but McNary’s got it down.
“I taught my two girls how to make pie crust a few years ago, and Emma just started baking a lot, getting into cake decorating and making breads and cup cakes,” her mother said.
On McNary’s blog, she shows pictures of her cooking process and of the goodies. She wrote, “there’s something comforting about a home-baked pie, and in the middle of winter, we can all use something a little home made and good for the soul.”
Forget Me Not Sweets could take off into a career. McNary holds a professional interest in cooking, helped along when she took Hope Casseri’s culinary class at Homer High School. To round it out, she offers vegan and vegetarian options for each product, information learned in another of her research projects.
“Once Emma decides she wants to do something, she is pretty thorough,” her mom said.
At the Edible Arts event on New Years Eve, McNary made a presentation explaining her work, just one of the many ways she is trying to spread the word. Now she is into the public relations side of her endeavor, one that she hopes people will, well – eat it up.
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