Annette Jacobson and her husband, Mark, launched Twisted Pastries with a twist—unlike most coffee shops, all baked goods are prepared in-house, using natural ingredients. “We offer healthier versions of meals and sweets,” Annette said. Breakfast options include pastries, oatmeal, and fried-egg paninis. At lunch, six different panini sandwiches are served, including meat and vegetarian options.
Annette is the lead baker. She learned baking early in life from her grandmother, who also taught her to love coffee. The Jacobsons opened Twisted Pastries in early 2018. In January 2019, they expanded into an adjacent space, creating a larger kitchen plus office and storage space. Their shop is open 7 days a week, seats 24, and employs a staff of 10.
SBDC leads with good questions
Annette began thinking about starting a coffee shop almost two years before opening Twisted Pastries. “With my children getting more independent, I found I had a lot more spare time,” she said. Plus, she was concerned about her employer downsizing. “I was a big customer at local coffee houses and it brought a lot of enjoyment to my day. I love coffee, I love to bake, and I thought if I had to start a new job, I wanted to work for myself.”
In the early stages of writing a business plan, Annette sought out the Small Business Development Center at UW-Superior, where she worked with center director Andy Donahue. “He was so well-prepared. He led me with the right questions,” she said. Andy observed, “Annette came in wanting to open a coffee shop, but her turning point came when she decided to emphasize the baked goods—she flipped the script, concentrating on a unique style of cupcakes.”
Referrals from Andy helped Annette find a local organic coffee purveyor and other suppliers. He also helped the Jacobsons identify potential funders. They received financing through the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund and the Entrepreneur Fund.
Annette later added event catering, including weddings on both sides of the Wisconsin-Minnesota state line. “Andy was so knowledgeable about selling across borders,” Annette said. “For anything he didn’t know about compliance with state laws, he knew where to point me.”
Marketing begins with the right location
Annette struggled to find the right location for Twisted Pastries before a storefront became available on busy Tower Avenue/WI 35. Andy recalled, “We ran projections on several locations that didn’t work out. She was resilient to work through that.”
For marketing, Twisted Pastries relies on social media: Annette posts every day on Facebook and Instagram. She keeps a member listing in the area Chamber of Commerce/ Visitors Bureau directory. “We get lots of visitors from St. Paul and Minneapolis popping in,” she said.
Accomplishments with the SBDC at UW-Superior:
- Identified sources of funding
- Assisted with purveyor relationships
- Advised on multi-state sales regulatory issues
Owners keep their day jobs
Both partners have chosen to continue working full-time for their employers. “That’s something we don’t see very often,” Andy said. “Kudos to them for hiring and training well enough they can entrust their staff with the day-to-day operations.”
Mark works as “handyman” for Twisted Pastries; Annette bakes during early mornings and serves customers on weekends. She enjoys connecting with her community over a steaming coffee drink or a box of cupcakes to go. “I get to see a lot of people, find out what’s going on in town,” she said.
As Twisted Pastries moves into its second year, Annette is focused on raising awareness of the coffee shop and catering services. Annette said, “My focus is on doing events—giving away samples, letting people know who we are and where we are.”