"Happy Birthday To Us!'' We can't believe it's been 10 years of Hungry Monkey Baking adventures! Where does the time go!?
One sunny Saturday morning at 6 AM, 10 years ago to the day, my husband Tom, our good friend, Lauren, and our two-year-old daughter, Lily (Hungry Monkey's namesake), set up a tent at the Northfield Farmers Market. It was actually Lily's second birthday and we had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into!
It was a very exciting time...but also terrifying as we waited for customers to arrive...”Would they like my banana bread?," “Would anyone want to buy it?," “If they don’t, what do I do with everything I had baked?!”....Thankfully, soon after we set-up, our first customers arrived to try our Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Lynno and Mike....I will never forget! They are both great customers (now friends) to this day!
Friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who I had baked for over the years had encouraged me to this very moment - ''you can do it!," ''you should sell your baked goods''!
Well, it's one thing baking for friends & family, but to attempt to sell them felt daunting.
Friends, family, and former colleagues showed up weekly to support us, they helped with setting up our tent, sampling & giving us feedback. Week after week, rain or shine, we were there....kids would come running up to our booth shouting “Hungry Monkey, Hungry Monkey!“… The kids really helped build our little brand, begging their parents to buy it! Judy, likely our number one Farmers Market fan, is still buying for her grandkids today!
Fast track three months later, we started to sell in all Sunset Foods‘ stores on the North Shore of Chicago. It was a dream come true. And 10 years later, we are still in all Sunset Foods' Stores, along with Olivia's Market and delivery through Fresh Picks.
Despite our small successes, the summer of 2010 proved to be the biggest challenge in our lives to date. Two months after we began this adventure, Lily was diagnosed with suspected Mitochondrial Disease alongside some processing and speech disorders. It was definitely a testing time for us all. Today though, we are happy to report, that our sweet girl is quite determined & resilient...she persevered!
After a decade of therapies, she’s a happy, very healthy, smart, and accomplished "tweenager" as she likes to call herself. Despite her speech challenges, and not talking until she was three years old, she now sings as a Soprano 1 in a touring choir, acts in school & community theatre plays, kills it in math, and most importantly, has taught me to never give up...the greatest life lesson of all!
Ten years of business has definitely brought some challenges, but so has life. The message we hope to share is that no matter what your challenges are, no matter what your dreams may be, never give up, because you never know when the foundation you are building is strong enough to support growth.
We are not only celebrating 10 years of The Hungry Monkey Baking Company but also Lily turns 12 years old today! Yup, on our 10th anniversary!
We’ve had some exciting things happen during the pandemic, but additionally, more challenges, especially for a small businesses like ours. As we enter this new chapter of unchartered territory, we want to thank you for being so supportive 10 years ago, 10 months ago, and even 10 minutes ago… Your support has given us the opportunity to give back. For the past 10 years, we’ve given between 10 and 15% of our net revenue back to the community. And just yesterday we were able, along with our local Boy Scout Troop #46, to donate 100 "mini-monkey" banana breads to the front line staff working on the COVID-19 floor at Vista Medical Center in Waukegan, IL, a hospital fighting to save lives. The Boy Scouts wrote an inspirational note to go along with each banana bread.
As we attempt to navigate this whole new chapter, we are so thankful to have you with us on this exciting ride!
Thank you from the entire Hungry Monkey Team (past and present -- myself, Lily, Tom, Lauren, Katie, Diana, Erika, Jenelle, Vincenta, Ulises, Romeo, Brett, Aex and Grace) for joining us on this journey.
We could not have done it without you!