BABE #116: AMANDA GIBSON,
Recipe Developer @ Good Dough
Amanda has played such a pivotal role in the launching of one of our city's most well-loved, new, local businesses. Because we've had the honor of living around the corner from Good Dough (...and therefore trying a wide variety of their recipes...), we know that Amanda has contributed more time, energy, creativity and brilliant ideas to the artisan doughnut shop's launch than she'll ever admit. Her commitment to her craft and her ambitious spirit inspires us more than she'll probably ever realize, and we're so excited she let us pick her brain regarding all-things doughnuts, baking and cooking. You're an absolute Babe, Amanda!
Hometown: Rensselaer, IN
Current city: Jacksonville, FL
Alma mater: N/A
Very first job: Bagger/cashier at my local grocery store in high school
Hustle: Recipe Development + Marketing @ Good Dough Doughnuts
Babe you admire and why?
The day before I got married, I sat in a room with a lot of wonderful babes who are very near to my heart, and at one point they all said how we met and how long we had known each other. It was a very surreal moment for me to see different points of my life represented in that room; from my mother who knew me first, to my friend from high school, to my “roomfriend” (what I call roommates) in my adult life, to my siblings. To admire different areas and aspects of my life would include different people touching those pieces of my story. So just like that moment, the babes I admire the most are the ones who have come and gone, who are present now, and those I have yet to meet.
Go-to coffee order?
When we first opened the shop, I couldn’t stop drinking the vanilla bean lattes. Then it turned into salted caramel, and now that fall is coming up, I’ve been thinking of butterscotch and pumpkin. So, I guess, whatever seasonal flavor we have on our menu at the time.
Must-have item in your purse?
Nothing. I try to never carry a purse because it turns into a trash bag. I carry a little coin bag that holds my debit card and a few other cards. Or, my husband turns into my purse.
Biggest pet peeve?
I feel like I’m always saying I have a lot of pet peeves, but the one I publicly talk about often is how people will tell me I look tired or ask me to smile, even after I’ve had good rest. Apparently my face always looks tired, and I know I’m not walking around with a fake smile all the time, but I do think it’s rude to ask me to change something about my appearance—or even make note of it out loud.
Tell us about your hustle:
I hustle at Good Dough, an artisan doughnut shop in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville, FL. We change our menu on a monthly basis, so I give a lot of input into our menu items and create and develop all of our recipes. I like to think I lead our kitchen team well—but who knows; ask them. They honestly make it easy to lead; they’re some of my favorite people. I think it really says something that after eight hours with a person, you still want to go out get dinner or a drink with them. I also run our social media accounts and help with the shop's branding and marketing efforts.
What does your typical workday look like?
Does any true babe have a typical workday? Most days I get up at 2:15 a.m. to get to the shop at 3 a.m. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s my favorite shift. The hard part is the getting up part. There’s usually only one or two people in the shop before I arrive for regular opening tasks before we start baking, and then our customers arrive. If time allows, I'll also test out any new recipes. On other days where it’s not 3 a.m. in the shop, I’m at my computer writing down recipes that make sense to our team, writing descriptions for a new menu so everyone on our team is on the same page, and making a new inventory list for each new month.
How did you get involved with Good Dough? What has the journey of working there since Day 1 been like?
The owners, Brittany and Logan Moore, found me on Instagram, and reached out with their vision and who they were looking for in terms of a team. At the time, I had a full-time job and wasn’t really looking to leave, but as a person who loves our local food scene, agreed to sit down and hear their ideas. I loved the idea of an artisan doughnut shop coming to Jacksonville, since it's the first of its kind, but was a little apprehensive. A lot of times, people have dreams but don’t take action. I honestly thought I was sitting down and listening to a dream that I’d be encouraging them to go and do. However, it got real for me when Brittany said they already signed papers for a location and were in the construction process. I wasn’t listening to just a dream, I was listening to action. I went home and talked to my husband and a few of my close friends; how I was kind of honored that someone saw the things I baked for my food journal and posted on Instagram and wanted to meet me. A few days later, I decided to try to bake my first batch of doughnuts. I took them to their house, and they liked them! The recipe has vastly changed since that first round, and obviously I did change my full-time job. Sometimes when you’re in a season of life, you don’t always know the next season of life is about to happen. I’m a firm believer that how you exit one season is how you determine the next. It has been quite an adventure, with a lot of humbling moments. It really means a lot to meet a stranger who enjoys what you work so hard on. It has been hard, but if something you do isn’t hard, then I’m not quite sure you’ll appreciate the success or value from others in the same field.
Where does your passion for cooking/baking come from, and what has your culinary training looked like?
I’ve always enjoyed eating and talking about food. Growing up, my mom would always eat something and try to guess all the ingredients in it. I find myself doing that now. There’s a certain way of doing things when you live in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest. I grew up on five acres with two gardens and random farm animals. My mom made a lot of things from scratch from our garden, but I didn’t really cook or bake until I moved out on my own. That’s when I think I started to learn more and pick it up as a hobby. I didn’t think it’d be a job. I didn’t go to school for it; I’m self-taught through lots of messed up dishes and lots of Google.
What is your baking process like?
There are so many life analogies I connect all the time when I’m baking. While I say I love the process, I don’t always love it in every moment, but it’s refining. Just like anything in life, if it’s hard, it’s going to refine you. Specifically in developing recipes for Good Dough, I've learned more about yeast than I ever did before. Yeast taught me a lot about patience: that you can’t always rush the good things in life. Also, you can’t overwork dough, or it will become tough. I’ve had many unhealthy relationships with overworking myself, and while “tough” can be seen differently, I don’t want a tough exterior. Maybe this is too much comparing, but you get to thinking when you’re working with dough in the quiet hour of 3 a.m.
How often do you make time for your own baking, blogging and business pursuits?
Sometimes it’s hard to make yourself a brand. I’ve run two major social media accounts for restaurants in the past five years, and I think I do pretty well with engaging guests, growing numbers and finding beautiful photos, but it’s harder to spotlight yourself. I’d like to do more, but sometimes my couch looks so comfy and my husband is a great cook. I'm working on trying to actively post on my own online food journal once a week.
Similarly, what do you hope for your personal brand in the future?
I hope to journal more. I think this upcoming year I’ll have more opportunities and time to do so. I want to learn new techniques. I’ve been saying for a while now that I want to learn how to make croissants from scratch, but you don’t just whip those up. I think I’d like to work with more of the brands I follow on Instagram. I have a book idea, but outside of writing it, I don’t know next steps. I’ll be researching that.
How would you say being a woman has affected your career?
I honestly haven’t ever felt like I received a disadvantage from being a woman in any of my workplaces. Maybe that’s just my mindset, but I’ve always felt like I’ve spoken up when being treated poorly, or when seeing others being treated poorly. I value the work of everyone I work with, babe or not, and I don’t put them into different categories at work. There was one time, though, when I was telling a male boss about a uncomfortable situation. A woman I had been working with for a week made a comment about my face one day when I came in with makeup on. She told me I looked better with makeup, and that I should wear it all the time. I expressed to him that I was a little hurt, and he made a comment about telling his son how some ladies do need to wear makeup. Again, I don’t ever just sit there with comments like that. I quickly asked him what kind of character he was imparting on his child with thoughts like that. It’s not something that pained me deeply, but it did leave an impression on me. Honestly, I don’t blame my boss for saying those things. At one point, somewhere in his life, someone told him that was a truth. It’s our job, babe or babe supporter, to start calling out or questioning thoughts like that.
What advice would you give to a Babe trying to break into your industry?
Everyone gets here differently. Everyone’s work looks different. Everyone’s break looks different. The most important thing is that if it’s something you desire or want to pursue, start making strides towards it. I can’t handle people who say they want to do something and never do anything about it. I also think finding people who have already gone before you and listening to their stories is beneficial. Not only are you building a network, but you’re gaining knowledge and resources. I have this little embroidery in my dining room that says, “But first, tacos.” I also have this other embroidery that says, “Everyone sucks before they get kind of good at something.” You’re going to fail and things are not going to turn out the way that you expect, but when you look back, you’ll see growth.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
You are not your job. It’s not your identity, and it should never be—no matter how many hours you spend doing it. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the common question we ask children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?” From a young age, we put such a high importance on what our hustle is. I’m trying to make more conscious decisions to ask, "what kind of person do you want to be?" or "what brought you here?" Never discount where you are. Never downplay a job, because while you may not want to do it, it’s someone else’s passion. To discredit one job is to discredit another human.