Gretchen Croteau and Emily Heuer ’06 started off as Lewisburg neighbors — exchanging baked goods and friendship even after Croteau, assistant director of advancement, moved across town. In the throes of baking for the holidays in 2015, Heuer dreamily posted on Facebook that she would love to own a bakery someday. Croteau posted a response: “If you’re serious, let’s talk!”
Color, texture and one-of-a-kind taste were what Heuer and Croteau were going for as they developed their recipe — one part of what makes their small business, Salty & Baked, thrive.
“An excellent product, excellent customer service and being community-oriented are the pillars of our business,” says Heuer. “And the Bucknell and Lewisburg communities have been so supportive.”
That support for their entrepreneurial adventure began in early 2016, when the women popped into the Bucknell Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on Market Street. When Business Consultant Reed Byrum opened the door, their dream started to become a reality. “Reed really encouraged us to go after this thing,” says Heuer. “He gave us important tools to get started.”
With family and friends as taste-testers, they baked many pretzels before settling on their signature recipe. With the final recipe in hand, their next step was to find a commercial kitchen at a local church and connect with the College of Management’s Markets, Innovation & Design program. “Our Bucknell interns have been incredible,” says Croteau. “They helped form focus groups to test our products, and now we have a class group working on our website.”
Their first intern, Jenna Lochiatto ’17, says it was rewarding to work with a local startup. “Besides the delicious taste tests, it was exciting to learn how a business first integrates itself within a new market. For Salty & Baked’s proprietors, it was key to understand how their products could best reach customers and quickly gain a following.”
Word-of-mouth has made Heuer and Croteau popular at local venues, such as the Campus Theatre, and events, such as the Milton Beer Fest — and they love hand-delivering care packages to Bucknell students. Recently, they’ve added cookies to their lineup and are working with the SBDC to create a path to opening their first store.