Good Eats Boutiques
463 Stevens Ave., Portland
Jill DeWitt has known about “good eats” since she was a child. She grew up in New York with a mother who was an accomplished baker and food designer, and, after years in retail and the food industry DeWitt opened her own bakery, Good Eats Boutique in Portland. DeWitt not only offers a variety of sweet stuff, but also encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in other epicureans by selling the goods of 14 independent, certified local bakers, many of whom work from their own homes.
What were your most important needs in getting started?
I feel that I truly needed to be focused on my mission for the store. I created a business plan, after attending SCORE [Service Corps Of Retired Executives, a group that offers mentoring and training workshops for small business owners], which was a tremendous help. Research was crucial. I traveled to many different venues to complete the total “package,” which would represent my format for the store. I found it most helpful to have an outside support person who kept me on track. I met Cindy Edwards at the Career Center in Portland, and she was always there to bounce ideas off of and give an objective opinion. Let me just say knowing yourself well is of the utmost importance.
What was there about your upbringing that gave you the courage to venture out on your? own?
I grew up in New York, where my mom was a pastry designer and an incredible gourmet cook. My dad was also a successful garment distributor, so selling was naturally in my blood. I went away to school at a young age and learned to make decisions for myself. Both my parents had instilled many good words of advice. I also knew that I was quite headstrong and found I was very comfortable communicating my needs. Having my own store was always a dream – I just did not know where and when. After college, I gravitated to several types of employment, which, looking back on it, gave me a lot of my foundation for this business. Every job was an experience that I could take away with me the things I admired and leave behind the rest.
What do you think the advantages and disadvantages are of being a female entrepreneur?
I truly do not think there are any disadvantages. I never really gave it a second thought. If you know yourself well and can capitalize on your strengths, then surround yourself with people who can complete what you do not know, you come out a winner every time. Women in general need to stop thinking that we are at some kind of a “disadvantage.” Business is business, no matter who you are.
What advice would you give an aspiring woman entrepreneur?
The best advice that I have given to others is simply this Truly know your passion – what do you bring to the table that you do the best – and that is what you should follow. When you are doing what makes you the happiest, your work will reflect in the results. People can tell when you love what you do. Everybody told me not to open my own business, the economy is bad, or it will run your life, etc. It only took one person to say, “Yes, you have what it takes.” You need to know that you are truly committed to the ups and downs that every business deals with. This is far more that a 9-to-5 job and you will need to be able to think on your feet, multi-task and change gears at any given time. And I never looked back.