Lynda Stone, CEO, Puffy Muffin
email@example.com | 615.373.2741 | puffymuffin.com
- Tell me a little about your business and what inspired you to start the company.
We had very humble beginnings. I loved to bake – I loved to sew – and we had a big garden. Private school was on the horizon, so I began to sell my rolls to restaurant. I knew restaurants just didn’t have enough time to make their own bread but were concerned with offering the best product available. Literally, I carried my bread around in baskets to F Scotts, Bunganut Pig, Miss Daisy’s – every place I approached wanted them.
Very quickly even my girls and Jack were delivering bread. I was up day and night trying to bake. I hired staff to bake bread in my home so that I could sleep during the day and bake all night…it was maddening. I told Jack that I either needed to get out of business or get the business out of my home. That’s what I did.
I then rented a small space for three years in Huffs Food Town. I started with five tables with a very limited lunch; lots and lots of bread. We then rented another location in the Hill’s Shopping Center. When the Lee space next door became available we were excited to go from 75 seats to 250 seats, and we’ve been there for over 10 years. A year and a half ago we proudly opened our newest location in Cool Springs, which is our largest space. We grew from 75 employees to 150.
- What have been the strengths of operating out of Williamson County?
The relationships we build, we keep. Business is done one person at a time. When I first started, I didn’t know anything about business. My husband had a business administration degree but I had nothing. I had to figure out how to get a business license, permitting, etc. I went down to the courthouse in Franklin to figure all that out. Williamson County took a chance on a young entrepreneur.
The people were open and inviting – they welcomed me into their space and we have, to this day, a wonderful place in the community. I believe this is what I am most proud of as I look back over our years in Williamson County. Williamson County is also committed to excellence, so I am proud to casting my star with them!
- Do you see the entrepreneur culture growing here?
Absolutely, we’re one of the 5 top counties in the country being sought after because of our quality of life and business opportunities. We also have amazing amenities, so why not move here? We have Bridgestone, the amazing Nashville Symphony and Schermerhorn…I’m so proud of Nashville, and that progress has migrated to Williamson County in a big way.
I have to believe a big part of the movement south is because of the united chamber. The level of professionalism that I gain from being a part of the Chamber is exceptional. I’m really excited about what is happening here. If anyone wants to start a business, now is the time. The Chamber will help you.
- How has your company structure changed and how are you planning for the future?
I have an exit strategy – a way for Puffy Muffin to continue into the next generation. My daughters are doing management and leadership training and marketing with Puffy Muffin. It is imperative to have not only an exit strategy but a plan to continue the business on into the future. The way I look at it – we’re a small business, we are not corporate. We’re not in the league where we can just locate wherever we desire.
- Do you have any specific advice for someone starting a business?
I would have believed more in myself. I am the one who had the dream. Why did I allow doubt to steal my joy? I would have believed. I could have saved myself many sleepless nights and this is the most precious advice I would like to pass on to other entrepreneurs.
I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t want to get to the end of my life and think “I’ve done it someone else’s way”. When I was starting I heard plenty about all the reasons it couldn’t work, and why somebody else could do it better. I decided I was going to take the hits, the bad comments, the responsibility I took it because it’s my dream, and that dream doesn’t come without a cost.
This may not be good news for some of your readers, but it is true for me in my 30 years experience. As an entrepreneur, one goes out on that limb and stay on it . . . financially, relationally, and mentally. Anybody that works for a successful business would do well to pay attention to those who have gone before and sacrificed, because they are working for a business that is able to pay them simply because someone went out first and made it happen.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
The thing I’m most proud of in this whole experience is that number one; we are committed to doing business ethically. This is a way to honor the people that work for you as well as those who walk through your doors. Over the years we have had the privilege to conduct many management and leadership trainings, seminars and retreat – an effort to share life lessons with our staff.
Many people that work here are working their first job. We know this is a privilege and take our responsibility to them seriously. We treat these young people like they are our sons or daughters. We help them to learn what it means to work, and treat them with respect. We don’t serve them well if we let them get away with things that are not ethical. Leadership done with excellence is the most sought after goal for the Puffy Muffin.