When Danielle Poux decided to leave her high-paying human relations job for a bakery startup in 2010, she knew it should land in downtown D.C.
Unfortunately, the banks didn’t agree. She couldn’t get a loan as a first-time business owner, and so she downsized the dream to an 800-square-foot space in Tysons Galleria, scraping together the cash from family and friends to open her first shop.
Seven years later, she’s making good on that District address: Poux is set to open a bakery at 1130 Connecticut Ave. NW that’s triple the size of her original store. The goal is to open in October.
With the help of a silent investor — she also declined to disclose the amount — she started looking for space in D.C. a little more than a year ago. She hopes to capitalize on all the office buildings in the K Street and Connecticut Avenue neighborhoods; 25 percent of her Tysons sales come from corporate orders.
She’ll also serve coffee and tweak menu items to cater more to breakfasts for the morning rush — think her famous blueberry buckle or bread pudding turned into a grab-and-go-friendly muffin.
The D.C. space — and larger mixers and other equipment she plans to buy — will also allow more efficiency for large orders. Right now, if bakers at Danielle’s are prepping 80 cakes for the holidays, for example, they’re only able to bake two at a time.
She declined to provide the cost of the buildout, which is being done by Potomac Construction. But she does expect the new location to serve as a commissary of sorts, since the Connecticut Avenue bakery will also have more refrigeration. Eventually, Poux hopes to begin wholesaling.
“T he Virginia store has been great, but it’s way too small, and we’ve outgrown it,” she said. “I can’t wait to be able to bake without just 6 inches between me and the next baker.”
She also expects to boost her sales. Danielle’s Desserts did about $720,000 in sales last year and has averaged 12 percent annual sales growth since the company opened. It’s much more than Poux imagined during that first, grinding year, when she says, at one point, she didn’t know if the business would make it through the next two weeks.
She hopes the new location will expand that brand awareness in the District proper. “We haven’t had as much as I would like within the area from publications where the focus is really on D.C. That’s an area where I’d love to expand,” she said.
Danielle’s Desserts will have plenty of competition, as bakeries have been on the rise in the District of late: New-ish additions include RareSweets and MilkBar in CityCenterDC, Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw and the French-tinged Boulangerie Christophe and Laduree in Georgetown. There have been casualties as well: The cupcake-centric Crumbs and Cakelove bakeries have both closed in recent years. But with a menu of everything from cookies and pies to bundts and cake truffles, Danielle’s Desserts is on stronger footing.
Eventually, Poux hopes the D.C. shop will allow her to retire and, perhaps, leave the business to her daughter, Nicole, who has a background in business.
“It feels right. I’m a little bit nervous, like I was nervous opening the first shop,” she said. “But I think we’re ready.”