Rockport mom pursues 'The Sweet Life'
Rockport — Residents of the Midcoast region now have a new option for ordering baked goods including breads, preserves and specialty items. Robin Hamann of Rockport launched her business, The Sweet Life, at the beginning of 2013.
"It's been in the works for about six months," said Hamann of her fledgling business. She explained that in addition to obtaining requisite licensing and inspections she also spent the planning phase working on logo design and fine-tuning her menu.
The Sweet Life launched on Facebook Jan. 7 and had about 50 fans within the first week; Hamann said she received multiple orders almost immediately. She said she receives orders through a Facebook application that allows customers to view a menu and make selections, and also through phone calls and private messages on the social media site.
In addition to several types of homemade bread — from country white to anadama — Hamann also offers pies, preserves, muffins, doughnuts and gourmet flavored marshmallows. Prices range from $5 for a loaf of bread to $12 for a 12 ounce jar of handmade hazelnut spread, which she said is a popular item.
Presently, Hamann's provisions are available for home delivery. She said her husband assists with delivering orders to her customers. As the business evolves she said she may participate in local farmers markets as well. The direct delivery service has been successful thus far.
"It makes things simple, you've got to start slow," she said, adding she asks for 24 hours notice for any size order, and she does not have a minimum or maximum.
Hamann is a stay-at-home mother of four children, including an infant. She said she home schools her two middle children and her 7-year-old daughter attends public school. Her husband is a consultant with a business based in their home, and Hamann said baking allows her to work while still performing all of the duties of running a home and mothering her children.
Her homespun approach applies to marketing as well. She said Facebook and word-of-mouth have been very successful. It was a similar spirit of encouragement from friends and family that inspired her to hang out her proverbial shingle as a professional baker.
Hamann, who hails from upstate New York, has a background in early childhood education, and said she has limited experience in the food service industry. Her husband is a native of Waldoboro and the couple moved their family to Maine in 2005.
"Baking has been something I have always enjoyed," she said.
She explained that she received enough comments and requests that going into business made sense.
Most of the ingredients Hamann uses are sourced locally and she said she hopes to localize her sourcing even further by expanding her garden in the spring.
"I hope to get my homestead up and running this summer, I love being self-sufficient," she said.
For now, she acquires ingredients from friends and farmers she has gotten to know.
"It's a wonderful, eclectic mix of bartering and paid service," she said of her relationship with the people that she gets her ingredients from.
Hamann said she hopes her menu and ingredients will stand out in a thriving local foods market. She said small things, like offering sweet potato doughnuts, are what make her business unique.
"I'm fearless in the kitchen and I like a challenge," she said.
She admitted that while she "can do breads with [her] eyes closed" there is a certain "zen" to bread making she really enjoys.
Hamann said she grew up in the inner city and suburbs and appreciates the experience afforded to her children by growing up in the Midcoast. She said she and her husband work to teach their children about the environment, nature and the world through their family and place-based lifestyle.
"I think it's great for my kids," said Hamann.
She said The Sweet Life satisfies her creative side while allowing her to parent her children, which is precisely what inspired the moniker of her business.
"I was thinking of a name, and the goal of being present with my kids, thinking about how that would be such a sweet life, and it stuck," she said.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.