Meet Tbsp Waffle Founder, Rachel Thompson

Imagine a career where you make money from crafting original, unique and delicious things for people to enjoy. The idea of taking something you created and making your living off of it seems almost too good to be true, but is actually something that anyone is capable of. It means owning your own business, and although it’s not unheard of,  it’s a bold aspiration that most parents tell their kids to shy away from. It’s seen as a risky choice, but being your own boss, having the freedom to create your product exactly how you want it, and ultimately building your own dream all make the risk worth it.

I met with Rachel Thompson who started her own business selling delicious Liege waffles around the Minneapolis metro area at Farmer’s Markets and events last summer. Her business  is Tbsp Waffles, and it’s already become a local favorite. She’s a recent University of Minnesota grad already making a name for herself in the area, and ready to get back into markets this summer.

Rachel found the Liege waffle while traveling through Europe, and figured the popular treat could have a home in the Twin Cities. She got the idea to start her own business her senior year of college after she realized the 9-5 routine wasn’t what she wanted from a career. She then decided to take her waffle idea and run with it, and Tbsp Waffles was the result.

Rachel eventually started product testing which meant spending six months in a shared kitchen space creating and changing a base recipe for her custom waffle. She wanted something unique and less sweet, and ultimately found her perfect flavor in a sourdough-like waffle that can be sweetened with different toppings.

She had so many great things to say about creating your own business and helpful advice to those of you who are thinking about it but are unsure where to start. Even if you’ve never thought of starting your own business, the hard work and dedication it takes translates into any career.

Rachel’s advice for starting your own business:

1. Just do it. If it’s really what you want and really supposed to happen, it will.

It sounds too easy, but it’s true. If you put in the effort and grit and have a solid idea, you can run with it. You don’t even have to know exactly what you’re doing all the time, as long as something is happening, you’re doing great.

2. Use your resources and find mentors to shadow.

You won’t be the only person with their own business who understands how challenging it can be. Rachel worked with the sisters behind Rise Bagels and found that to be one of the best experiences.

3. Keep your perspective in check.

Look to successful businesses in your area, and don’t let competition scare you. With anything else in life too, you’ll be a lot less stressed if you change your perspective from seeing something as a competition or a threat to seeing it as something to learn from and get better from instead.

4. Understand logistics.

Being realistic with money and time is key. Don’t start a business on a tight budget, and understand that it’s an investment. It’s important to be mindful of things like the health department for food businesses specifically, and also being mindful of taxes and important finances. Owning your own business is supposed to be fun and rewarding, but you have to be responsible.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Being a small and new business, you find a whole community of other small businesses. Rachel mentioned that being able to connect with other great people was one of her favorite things about this project and her business. People are incredibly supportive, and I think it’s a common trend that most people want to see you succeed. With networking, feedback and sharing a kitchen space, the job’s never boring and there’s always a new person to meet and more to learn.

When you do find someone that is willing to help you or you think you can learn a lot from, don’t be afraid to ask them for advice and feedback over coffee. Constant input is so important and being able to adapt  and learn will only make you and your business more successful.

The absolute best thing about Rachel’s job is hearing people react to her product. She’s heard so many good things about her waffles and have had people coming back for more. It’s been the best thing some people have eaten, and hearing that makes all of the hard work completely worth it.

If you want to try one of Rachel’s delicious waffles, you can find her at the Northeast, Linden Hills and Fulton Farmer’s Markets throughout the summer. Tbsp is a pop-up business, so there’s no store to go to, however the waffles typically involve going to a fun community events which is even better.

You can catch her June 3rd at the Northeast Farmer’s Market close to campus between 9am-1pm! Her full list of Farmer’s markets and events can be found here, just scroll to the bottom of the page. Find a weekend to hit up some farmer’s markets to enjoy some local treats, meet great vendors and support your community!

You can read more about her waffles including stellar reviews here, here, and here!

I mean, look at those waffles.