“Be open to opportunities ahead of you. Keep learning, learn something new every day… fear comes from lack of knowledge. You can quench that fear by learning.”Kathleen Merrill
While working as an ICU trauma nurse in Chicago, Kate Merrill felt the constant nagging of another life calling – selling cookies. Without any formal training in baking or business, Kate spent a couple years learning the basics and experimenting. She started out baking in a shared kitchen and selling wholesale and at farmer’s markets, under the label Kate’s Cookies. Her products soon gained traction, but juggling her job, three kids, and growing business, she knew that she needed a longer-term space and plan.
After a lot of soul-searching, and even some encouragement from her alderman, Kate decided to open a brick-and-mortar bakeshop in her local neighborhood of Edgewater. In 2017, Kate left her nursing position, and opened Edge of Sweetness, becoming a full-time small business owner.
In the hospital, Kate knew how to make people feel better through personal interaction, and she wanted to bring that to her community. She directly incorporated her nursing style into her bakeshop, always having a personal touch and treating her customers with compassion.
At the Edge of Sweetness, everything is made from scratch and the quality shines through in the finished products. Kate hopes that by enjoying one of their delicious cinnamon rolls or bagels, customers are able to take a moment to treasure life’s goodness. Especially now, with the many challenges of 2020, Kate finds that taking the time to appreciate the good things in life is so important.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit earlier this year, Kate made the difficult decision to completely shut down operations. She felt strongly about protecting her team and her customers, and she answered the call to return to health care and help fight the virus as a nurse. With the bakeshop’s bills piling up from March and April, Kate applied for several emergency funding opportunities. In receiving the City of Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund loan through Allies for Community Business, Kate was able to get caught up with her bills and keep the business afloat. The emergency funds also helped her work on refocusing the core of the business to meet the challenges of the moment.
For aspiring small business owners, Kate shared a final piece of advice: “Be open to opportunities ahead of you. Keep learning, learn something new every day… fear comes from lack of knowledge. You can quench that fear by learning.”