In this episode, Armando Lacayo explains how he transitioned from financial management to baking and the role of home-based production in opening what Bon Appetit magazine anointed the best new bakery in the country in 2016.
Three decades ago, Armando Lacayo moved to the U.S. from France to study math at American University. After starting on Wall Street and then earning an MBA, he worked for years in finance in Silicon Valley. In his spare time, Armando also dabbled in the kitchen. He had developed a love of good bread from his grandfather, who in turn had worked in his own father’s bakery (Armando’s great grandfather). Baking was a way to connect with home and his childhood traditions.
As a self-described picky Frenchman with a sweet tooth, Armando worked to perfect some of his favorite French baked goods. At the top of the list was croissants. He was fascinated that a treat that started with loose ingredients could come together with such a firm and tasty structure.
Armando started baking his croissants with guidance from a book but then honed his recipe for more than 20 years to come up with the perfect product. Approximately 10-12 years ago, two friends who did not know each other bought him the same book, How to Open a Financially Successful Bakery, within a short period. Perhaps it was a sign that he should start a new bakery. However, the book presented success somewhat deceptively as a fait acocompli. Anyone could do it by following the prescriptions in the book. Armando knew that it would not be so easy. Plus, in contrast to the book’s emphasis on broad, formulaic systems that would supposedly lead to success, Armando knew that the real secret was creating an outstanding product, made with love, and at a reasonable price.
This episode tracks Armando’s journey from corporate finance to small business ownership. He describes important intermediary steps, such as opening a small bakery space within a café and participating in a bread baking program; and the actual bakery opening itself, in which he had to conscript his young nephew, who was on spring break, to work with him at 3:00am and then sit with coffee and croissants at 7:00am to show passersby that the bakery was open for business. Armando also describes his business philosophy, rooted in an “OSD” (objective, systematic, and disciplined) approach, which translated well from corporate finance to small business entrepreneurship. Last, he discusses the importance of customer-oriented staff as an essential key to success.
Armando shares his story as well as recommendations for home-based producers who are at an earlier stage in their journeys.
You can find out more about Armando’s bakery, Arsicault Bakery, at https://arsicault-bakery.com as well as on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/arsicaultbakery)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/arsicault_bakery/).
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