Silverland Bakery survives, thrives and reaches 40 years
When Athena Uslander arrived to the United States from Iran in the 1970s, she had no fascination in setting up a organization, permit on your own a bakery. She was organizing to get an engineering diploma and get a excellent, stable work.
But the actuality of working for an engineering organization let down her – and the point that she was both of those an immigrant and a girl doing work in the male-dominated industry in the early 1980s didn’t assistance.
“I went to school, and I bought my Master’s Degree in structural engineering, and bought hired by an engineering business to layout bridges, but I quickly identified out I would not be developing Golden Gate [bridges] each and every day, it would be like highway bridges in East St. Louis,” Uslander recalled. “It was not for me. So, just after four years, I decided that was it, I was not likely to be sitting there with a bunch of old white gentlemen – so I quit.”
She obtained a structural engineering license, just in scenario she had to get back in the discipline – but she was established to check out anything else. A friend of hers, Lisa Silverman, was usually bringing brownies to parties, and the two decided to check out to flip it into a company.
Forty many years later on, Silverland Bakery not only expanded considerably outside of brownies, but grew from a 2,000 square foot kitchen area in Elmwood Park to a nation-vast provider. When they have a storefront at 439 Des Plaines Ave. in Forest Park, most of their organization has often come from the wholesale aspect. The pandemic harm Silverland’s prolonged-time earnings streams, but she said they are on their way to recovering – and they are setting up to have a significant 40th anniversary celebration later on this spring.
Cameron Uslander, Athena Uslander’s son and the company’s spokesperson, mentioned the business enterprise commenced with Silverman’s brownie recipe. The two mates named the organization by combining their final names – Silverman and Uslander.
Athena Uslander reported when they were starting the business enterprise, the plan of offering brownies to grocery stores was unheard of, but they assumed there was a market. And she claimed that, at to start with, the notion was a challenging provide, and most of their business came from promoting their merchandise out of the retail outlet. But the moment they started acquiring contracts, they picked up momentum. They acquired a further improve when the Olive Backyard garden restaurant chain begun obtaining their brownies.
“We’ve constantly been kind of a hybrid,” Cameron Uslander explained. “What adjusted was that we went from remaining a excellent chunk of our business enterprise getting retail to it just remaining a compact portion of it. We have been primary wholesale for most of the time we have been in company.”
He mirrored that when the upside of their business is that they don’t have to get worried about branding and internet marketing, it’s also a draw back – due to the fact their products aren’t branded, if a keep stops carrying their products, customers may have no idea who produced them and exactly where else they can find them.
Silverman left the bakery less than a 12 months soon after the opening. Her spouse moved to San Francisco, and, in pre-Internet times, there was no way for her to stay associated. Cameron Uslander explained his mother transformed the bakery’s identify to Athena’s Silverland Bakery – which is what many consumers nonetheless know it as – but “about 10 yrs in the past,” they made a decision to fall the “Athena’s” portion for the reason that they believed a two-term title would work better from a branding point of view.
The bakery promptly outgrew the unique Elmwood Park place. It moved to Oak Park, altering destinations a handful of instances, ahead of settling at the current Forest Park area in 1994. As Silverland grew, its product or service line expanded considerably past brownies, earning cookies, muffins and cakes.
Cameron Uslander explained their varied products traces, and their potential to keep up with healthful ingesting developments, as one of the things powering Silverland’s results. But he said that “first and foremost,” the corporation owed its results to his mother’s perseverance and travel.
“The yr she started the business, she really gave delivery to my more mature sister,” he stated. “She was pretty pushed to operate a organization. And I feel, for her, it could’ve been everything. She could’ve been advertising automobile tires and produced it perform.”
Equally the son and the mother agreed that the pandemic was their hardest challenge nevertheless. Their orders from accommodations, conferences and non-public occasions all but vanished, and with trade demonstrates cancelled, they couldn’t connect to consumers. Their income dropped by 80%.
“If it wasn’t for retail, we would’ve died,” claimed Athena Uslander. “We survived, and now, we’re seeking to insert new accounts.”
Cameron Uslander stated they benefitted from the federal Paycheck Security System loans.
“There were being instances in the initial handful of months of the pandemic, my mom was expressing probably we’d have to begin over, possibly scale points down or sell the enterprise entirely,” he reported.
Due to the fact then, the figures have been recovering.
“We’re not at 100% nevertheless, but we’re on our way,” she explained.
Most not long ago, the bakery confronted an unforeseen setback when a single of its ovens exploded. No person was hurt, but the explosion blew out the home windows – which is why some of them are continue to covered in plywood as Silverland waits for alternative glass to arrive.
Athena Uslander said that, though they prepared a grand 40th anniversary celebration on Jan. 20, when Silverland initially acquired its small business license, they decided to postpone it till the windows are replaced.
She and her son reported that they weren’t much too let down – soon after all, the genuine bakery didn’t open until eventually spring.
“We experienced our grand opening in March, so no problems,” Cameron Uslander reported. “It’s in phase with how our organization commenced 40 a long time ago.”