Baking & My Becoming

Hi - happy you're here. I'm Victoria Spofford, owner/founder/baker of Full Glass Baking. To those interested, this lil essay tells (most of) the story of how I got here. I hope it informs, inspires, or empowers you.

First, a little bit about my background: I grew up in a huge Italian family. Lots of food. Lots of family dinners... in fact, everything is centered around the dinner table. Growing up, my Nana held us together in more ways than one: through her kindness, her selflessness, and a lot of the time, through her food. She was unbelievable. From elaborate pasta dishes to chicken cutlets to english muffin pizzas. But, even though she was cooking all the food, the dinner table was centered around the company we kept at it. The dinner was for family after all.

Her husband, Ted (my Papa), was the same way. He was extremely food-motivated, but at the forefront, he was family-focused. He raved over spaghetti, "Don't change the recipe, Rose," he'd say to her. But something I always loved about my grandfather is that he started every meal looking at his family. Before digging in he'd say, "Look. This is MY family," full of pride.

Nana & Papa "jumping" pic -- 2014

The food my Nana made was a way to indulge, sure. But as I grew up, I realized the food she put on the table was a tool. Her food was the background for intergenerational conversations. Her food set the scene for my Papa's stories, my cousin's laughing, my uncle's smiles. I think about how much I love food, I love it a lot (lol.) But I think this love is an association of food with family, an association of food with conversation, an association of food with the love of the people I hold close. To this day, I linger at the dinner table long after dessert is finished, chatting with my family and friends.

been always first in line for cake

When I grew up, it was a common thing for me to to grab a chair, drag it to the kitchen island and cook with my Nana or my Mom. I'd help cook - mix, stir, crack eggs. But baking? We didn't do too much of that. I grew up on brownies boxes and toll house cookie dough. My Mom and Nana are/were amazing cooks, not much of bakers though. Besides my Nana's famous butter-horns during Christmas, she didn't bake too much.

My baking obsession came later.

It was almost my senior year of college, the summer of 2016. I was going to graduate magna cum laude, was captain of my collegiate field hockey team, had a great set of friends, the works. But it was summertime, and I was crying. I had just finished my internship and received a job offer; I should have been thrilled.

I was crying because I was nervous. Nervous for a corporate job I'd been working my whole life to get, and anxious because I didn't know if I actually wanted it. This was a great problem to have, and not a bad thing. Stability. Safety. A Job! But thoughts in my head were like "is that what I'm going to do for the rest of my life?" and as a result, I spiraled, and questioned every decision that led me to sneak into this path of stability. Looking back, I should have been appreciative, grateful, or had some sort of perspective. But at the time, I was 21 and was projecting that if I took this job now, I'd some day wake up in my mid fifties regretting it.

I still had my whole life in front of me, but put this immense pressure on myself. I was anxious about decisions and even more anxious I couldn't make one. Looking back, I think I was scared of my own tendencies. I knew in my heart how safe I liked to play. I was the Queen of Safe - I had always been cautious. Even the relationships I chose were safe, so my heart wouldn't be broken. I realized later though, if you're always playing it safe, there's no room for growth. If you're playing it safe, you're not winning. Because the teams that win, are the teams that overcome adversity.

Summer 2016

The day was emotionally draining, but after I was all done crying, I went to the kitchen and baked the day away. I made scones, gnocchi, breads, and muffins. I ended up feeling better, more clear. I was in "the flow;" I was "in the zone." I was in the meditative state of creating. You know the feeling. Maybe you get it from sports, yoga, painting, basically anything that sparks creativity. You head into a creative state of bliss, and it leaves you feeling absolutely amazing.

In terms of the job, my mom said to me: "nothing's permanent." I agreed and accepted the offer, it was a good opportunity. After that, I went to my senior year of college. I was happy. I baked during the holidays, trying recipes I saw on the internet. The holidays were for family; I channelled my Nana's presence. I baked to make bellies happy, to spread smiles. I made breads, cookies, and cakes. I had new recipes and new joys.

But after I graduated college and started my corporate job, I started anxiety baking again. I joined the corporate world reluctantly. Don't get me wrong, I was thankful for the job. I was thankful for the lifestyle I got to live because of that job. I was thankful for the things I learned about myself, and business, because of that job. I was thankful for the amazing people I got to work with, and learn from, during that job.

I worked hard, but around four months in, I knew it then that I didn't want the career path. Four months in I had a meeting with my manager and she asked if I could see myself being a buyer (the end goal) I shrugged my shoulders, "uh maybe?"

I felt like I was a different person at work than who I was in my heart. I felt like I had to put on a version of myself. I felt as though because I didn't want what everyone else was working toward, I wasn't supposed to be there, disconnected somehow. I now realize everyone puts on a front, a mask, a guise - in some capacity - every single day of their lives. And I later learned, not everyone was so bought into this corporate career path as they seemed to be.

At the time, I was baking a lot. I would commute home an hour from my job to an apartment in Boston, and bake recipes I found during my lunch break that day. I tried new recipes, experimented recipes of my own, and I altered recipes for healthier options. I loved it. I began to bake so much I had "cookie dough on tap"in my freezer, and would travel around Southie with baked goods in hand to deliver to family and friends. Hell, I even tried to bribe Southie bouncers with my cookies to cut the line at bars (which worked, for the most part!)

Looking back, I realized that before baking -- for 20 years --I had sports as an outlet. But when I graduated, I didn't have sports anymore. I still worked out, sure, but during my running/yoga routine I still found myself thinking. I pondered my to-do lists, my anxieties, who I 'should' be, and what I 'should' be doing. I didn't know it then, but I started baking as a replacement for field hockey, as a creative break from the day. And I realized that learning the art of baking became my therapy in many ways.

I started baking to fill a creative void, to ease stress, but I continued baking because I fell in love with it. I fell in love with baking for the ones I loved. I fell in love with recipe books, famous bakers - Christina Tosi, Ina Garden, Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan - I fell in love with the complex history of baking. I'd be hungover on a Sunday researching how whoopie pies were invented. So I made a baking instagram account - @fullglasslivin - to share with my friends and family.

Time passed. I kept baking. I kept my corporate job; I got a promotion. On my commutes, I started listening to How I Built This, a podcast about entrepreneurs and how they started their companies. I'd listen to Guy Raz interview Ben and Jerry (Ben and Jerry's), or Gary Erickson (Cliff Bar), or Emily Weiss (Glossier), or Lara Merriken (Larabar), or Kathleen King (Tate's), or Roxanne Quimby (Burt's Bees). I would listen to their stories and get chills all the way to my bones. I would listen to their stories and consider quitting my job that day, then and there. I would listen to this podcast, and get a feeling.

This feeling was a raw energy, and kind of hard to explain. But I'm going to try. For anyone who knows David Goggins, they know him as the toughest man alive. He has quite literally run on broken legs; his mental strength is insane. He is afraid of one thing though: not living up to his potential. He says he fears making it to the pearly gates in Heaven, at the end of the line, and God looking at him in disappointment. God, only disappointed because David could have been more, disappointed, because David was capable of more. Goggins is afraid of regret, afraid of missed opportunity. This fear pushes him to new limits and new heights, every. single. day. This is similar to what I was feeling. I felt like I wasn't living to my potential. This feeling wasn't feeling of regret, it was a firey feeling of desire, of "I can do anything so what's stopping me?" I knew I was capable of more. And I knew the person I was giving to this 9-5 every day was so much less than the person I wanted to be.

But, for 3 years, I stayed at my corporate job, slowly going into a slump, slowly becoming more and more stagnant, going through the motions of my job, of life. What I was afraid of back in the summer of 2016 was happening. I was falling into stability, falling into the safe zone. I wasn't trying to get to the next level anymore. Safe. I felt so disconnected from any creative process. Safe. But I stayed. I stayed because it was a good company, with good benefits. It was a good job.

At that point, I was making enough money -- nothing crazy -- but enough. My job wasn't hard anymore. I stopped growing. To my friends and family, I talked about having my "someday" but never really acted. I saved money and dreamed, but no moves were made. Then, something miserably wonderful happened. The world went into a damn pandemic.

COVID was heartbreaking for our entire world. Many lives were lost. I don't want to sugar coat the reality of the complete devastation for our world, our country, and the grief many families faced. For me, COVID was a huge reality check. I'm privileged to be able to say that. COVID gave me a chance to slow down. It gave me the time to get quiet. Get quiet with my soul - with my body - with my goals. It gave me a chance to open my eyes to the opportunity on this universe. I lived life FAST. But working from home, alone, with not much to do at all, it gave me a chance to read, listen to podcasts, walk, breathe, meditate. I finally listened to MYSELF, not societal expectations that kept me doing the things that didn't serve me.

Banana Bread smiles

First order of business was a March Madness baking bracket. I saw the devastation that many kids faced in America; kids were starving because they were out of school, and therefore didn't have school lunches to eat. So in about 3 weeks, I raised some money for No Kid Hungry (about 13,500 meals) by baking 12 different desserts and posting a March Madness style baking bracket on Instagram. Over 140 people bought in and participated, others just donated instead. I had friends and family judge the bracket (safely of course.) It was hilarious, fun, for a good cause, and it made me realize the power of the world we live in now - the power of the internet, the opportunities present out there. Plus, for the first time in a while, it felt like I lifted my head up from the tunnel vision of everyday life.

After that wrapped up, I consumed books, podcasts, and courses from incredible people, hoping that through osmosis or something, I'd become more incredible too. I listened to Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations, I listened to more How I Built This by Guy Raz; I watched a few documentaries on Dolly Parton and one on Michelle Obama. I read Untamed by Glennon Doyle - twice - I read The Tipping Point and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I read The Book of Joy and You Are A Badass, by Jen Sincero, again. I chose a poem every morning by Mrs. Maya Angelou, and let her words start my day. I read Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and started to listen to the podcast she created during the pandemic, Unlocking Us. I listened to Rich Roll interview various extraordinary people doing unbelievable things. I took a Yale class on happiness, and another Yale class on psychology and ethics. I read Alicia Key's memoir, More Myself. I read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt in 2 days. Do you know how long that book is? I really didn't work those days, at all. I read Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I listened to Can't Hurt Me, by David Goggins. I walked every morning and every evening, and I meditated for sometimes hours a day.

I learned so much and opened my mind to each one of these creatives. But at some point, I was done reading and listening to all these other people do incredible things. When your mind is consuming so much, you almost become a broken record of other people's pursuits and ideas. I was walking with my mom on the beach one day, telling her stories about David Goggins. (There was a span of time I was quite obsessed with him.) Then it hit me -- I was talking about all of these other people's goals and dreams, and distracting myself from my path. "what about my goals?" I thought. I always considered a baking company, so I decided then and there I'd finally give it a shot. So, I made a plan. I decided it was finally time to quit my corporate job. It felt right to move on. By the end of June I'd decided I was going to take a solo vacation for a week in my Nana's Hull house, nailing down all the details of starting a baking business. I created an LLC (and figured out what it was), spent hours on the phone with the IRS, I found a commercial kitchen near my home-town, I had some introductory meetings touring the facility. I even sold ice cream cookie sandwiches on the beach, and had interviews for baking positions.

It wasn't like I was all confident though. Back of my head was like: "you're thinking about quitting your stable job in a pandemic when so many people are losing their jobs.. are you kidding Tor???" "who the hell do you think you are?" "you're not even a professionally trained baker..?" " and what if you fail?" "what the f are you doing?" A part of me even felt guilty.

Then, I quit. I had dreamed of putting my 2 weeks notice for so long - years. I finally did it. In those next 2 weeks, I moved out of the city, back to my parents house, and became a CEO.

These last few months weren't all roses and lollipops though. I've made a lot of mistakes. I am learning every day. I am still working through it all -- learning to run a business, while staying true to my values, while working through my own human thoughts. Thoughts that doubt my abilities or pressure myself for perfection. I'm human, but still learning to accept that. I accomplished a lot in the past few months, and am so proud, excited, and optimistic of my present and future. I'm just getting started, and I don't just mean with baking. I mean with life.

A few caveats: I want you to know that a corporate job isn't a 'bad' thing. That's not what I'm trying to say here. And I didn't note the company because I respect the hell out of the company I worked for and respect that hell out of everyone I worked with. The job you have is wonderful thing. It's giving you money to survive in this world, to do the things you love, to provide for yourself and others. My job was a wonderful thing that I wasn't happy doing anymore. And for me, I was willing to take a few steps backward financially for a moment in time, to take a few steps forward mentally, emotionally, and creatively. I also hope you know, I'm not saying quit your job and start something immediately. This process was a long time coming. I thought about quitting for years. I saved money for years. COVID wasn't the impetus that started it, COVID only helped remove my fear of failure, and allowed me gain more perspective and tap into what I truly wanted. That made all the difference.

Now, I am the owner/founder/baker at a cookie company that aims to spread joy. I am the marketing manager, creative director, HR representative, plus, I mop the floors and take out the trash. I waitress on the weekends. I live with my parents, and try to unload the dishwasher as much as possible to show my appreciation for them. I take care of my family, and laugh with my sister at the breakfast table. I write poetry in my free time. I live simple and try to become better each day.

I am excited to see what avenues this leads me to. I can't wait to see what I'll learn. I can't wait to see who I'll grow into. I'm also happy continuing to live in the now. These are my thoughts, my story, and where this baking journey has led me up until this moment. And to be completely honest, this is just the beginning for me. The start of my business, the continuation of my growth, and a part of my becoming.

So... everyone asks: why baking?

Because of the way it makes me feel.

Because it's generational.

Because it's part of my story.

Because it builds community.

Because it inspires human connection.

Because it calms the mind.

Because it promotes my personal growth.

Because it spreads joy.

But I don't need a reason to do something I want to do -- other than my pure desire to just do the damn thing. Neither do you.

This is just the beginning.

More to come.

Full Glass Baking

Merrimac, MA  |  Amesbury, MA

we're a local baking business!

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