How This Bakery Owner Balances Personal, Work and Creative Time

Angela Garbacz, Owner & Head Pastry Chef of Goldenrod Pastries

Angela Garbacz, Owner & Head Pastry Chef of Goldenrod Pastries

Welcome to My Weekly Routine, mad-lib style interviews with in-the-trenches women entrepreneurs who share how they balance self-care, business-building and general life on-goings during the week, to give you ideas for max-productivity and balance for your weeks too.


Preparing food for people is a powerful way to create connection. And that’s what owner and head pastry chef, Angela Garbacz, is doing at her Lincoln, Nebraska bakery, Goldenrod Pastries.

In the three years since it opened, Goldenrod Pastries has become known not only for its inclusive sweets--gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan treats are their most common and most requested--but also an an anchor gathering space in the community.

And while the all-women run brick-and-mortar location is most easily accessible to folks in the nearby areas of Lincoln in The Great Plane, Garbacz is spreading her progressive ideals and vision nationally, with initiatives like Empower Through Flour.

Goldenrod Pastries started out as a side hustle for a year in Garbacz’s home kitchen, and after a four-month bakery build out, launched to the community with a 1,000 RSVP opening event guest list in spring 2015 and Garbacz has been growing the business since.

But the act of running the day-to-day operations, managing a full-team and continuing to iterate on the creative side of things is an art form in-of-itself. Below Garbacz gives us a glimpse into how she balances personal life, work life and creative time, in any given week.

To prepare for the week I….

...make food! Knowing that I have meals and snacks to nourish myself during the day at the bakery is always a huge relief. I make sure my reusable containers are clean, organized, and ready to fill for the week. It gives me a sense of calm and reminds me, subconsciously, that I am taking care of myself and that I am worthy of that care.

The key to my productivity during the week is...

...making lists! I am a true baker and make my daily lists on parchment paper with permanent marker. I get so much more done if I have the physical act of taking that lid off of the marker and crossing something out on that parchment paper. Because space is at a premium in my small store, I end up working just outside our open kitchen. It’s really easy for me to get distracted by my team and our customers because, you know, I’m a chef! If I can be in the kitchen or talking to my guests, that’s where I want to be! My lists help to keep me focused.

I never get any day started without...

...listening to something that really energizes me. Usually this is some late-‘90s lady pop-punk, like No Doubt or anything from the “Clueless” soundtrack. Those power voices and the fast rhythms get my heart pumping, make me want to jump around, and give me a really strong sense of self and power. Today I listened to “Ray of Light” by Madonna as loud as I could. Oh, and coffee. I definitely need coffee.

Garbacz preparing dough in the bakery kitchen.

Garbacz preparing dough in the bakery kitchen.

The biggest unsustainable habit that I had to change to be more productive was...

...working seven days per week. I felt a lot of guilt for not working every single day of the week. As entrepreneurs, I think we are easily influenced by people who are “hustling” every day. With the pressures of social media, it’s easy for people to constantly make us feel like we should be working every second of every day. I put this pressure and guilt on myself. I also thought it was my responsibility to my team to work nonstop. I wanted to be inspiring to them, but to also show them how invested I was in the success of the business, and apparently that meant working every single day. But by showing up to the bakery every day, I actually became much less productive. It wasn’t until I had an employee tell me I really needed to take a break that I stepped back a little. I realized I had been waiting for some kind of command or permission from my team. I have been taking one day completely off for a couple of weeks now, and I have really seen my productivity skyrocket. The answer is not nonstop work, my friends!!!

My weekly self-care non-negotiable is...

...Pilates. Exercise has always been important to my mental health, and finding Pilates has been the most productive form of exercise for my body and mind. I never cancel my Pilates sessions. It’s a time to slow day, breathe, focus on my physical balance and individual muscles. I’ve never latched on to traditional breathing meditations, so Pilates is that for me.

Inside Goldenrod Pastries bakery on a sunny day.

Inside Goldenrod Pastries bakery on a sunny day.

What I do to help me relax...

...I come home and start chopping onions and garlic. Even if I don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner, I pull out a pot or pan, start a burner, and begin chopping. It’s incredibly soothing for me. When I’m in the kitchen, I stop thinking about my problems or nagging questions. By the time I’m done chopping, the pan is hot, I add some oil, drop in the onions, and immediately hear that satisfying sizzle.

What I do to jog my inspiration...

...When I’m halfway through an idea or confused on how to present something, I’ll call my mom and just start talking. I explain what I’m working on, my perspective on the matter, and will launch into whatever half- or fully-formed ideas I have. She is a brilliant academic, feminist, journalist, and human. She will respect my perspective and will either tell me she likes where I’m going, or will start respectfully critiquing me and propose other views. We have come up with some great ideas together. I find it really helpful to just start talking and telling someone what I’m thinking, whether it’s an idea I already like, or one I don’t know how to approach. Find a person you can call, or send a message to - tell them what you’re working on, why you’re stuck, and be ready to listen to their perspective and thoughts. It’s usually pretty inspiring to hear other perspectives and can inspire you to think bigger!

A signature style flower-clad cake by  Goldenrod Pastries on Instagram.

A signature style flower-clad cake by Goldenrod Pastries on Instagram.

My tip for balancing work and personal time...

...I am not an expert on balancing work and personal time, but I am a student. What I’ve decided is that my work and my personal time are both important. I spent five years focusing on my work, sacrificing friendships, family time, and taking care of myself and my health. No one thing is worth sacrificing those forever. I am in the process now of redefining my life, rebuilding old friendships and creating new ones, and standing my ground on my personal time.