Small Business Profile: Devon Loftus, Owner of Moon Cycle Bakery - Chatham, NJ
Hi Devon! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background?
I have a BA in English with a focus on journalism and creative writing. A couple of years after college, I attended FIDM in San Francisco for Product Development, mainly in fashion, but the skills I learned while working in both the writing and design industry is what lead to the successful launch of Moon Cycle Bakery.
What started your interest in baking?
When I was a kid, I used to bake breads with my Grandma and Great-Grandma, particularly brown bread. It was a family recipe from her ancestors in Canada and we all got to reap the rewards. It takes a lot of time and care to make so we would spend hours kneading it, turning it and of course, eating it. To this day, the smell of yeast brings me back to that moment and I feel as though I'm there with her again.
On my dad's side, I would bake with my Grandma. She's from Italy, so we'd make all things pizza, breads and cookies. I was always intrigued by the way in which she danced around the kitchen as she cooked, knowing instinctively what was next in the process and never touching a measuring cup. As I grew up, I started baking with my Mom, as well, making more sweet treats like Charlotte O'Chocolate Cake (also known Chocolate Charlotte Cake), another recipe passed down from my Great-Grandma. I felt connected to these powerful female figures in my life every time we pulled out the spatula and heated the oven and it's that same feeling I get when I bake to this day. The feeling where excitement and creative spirit meets focus and dedication.
How did Moon Cycle Bakery begin? What is the concept and how does it work?
My friends decided to throw me a "West Coast" bachelorette night. It was the coming together of people from all walks of life, ideals, styles, laughs but all had one thing in common: they believed in supporting + loving one another. This night was no exception. Near the end of the night, my now husband, Brian, met everyone with a homemade cake decked out in chocolate ganache. The crew devoured it stopping only to smile and share the cake with fellow bartenders and servers — one of those surreal moments where we're reminded how transportive food and good company really are.
After the cake was gone, one of our friends walked over and thanked us for the cake. "I just needed to tell you that this is one of the best cakes I've ever eaten," she said, "And I'm not sure if it's because I'm about to get my period, but I almost cried." I sat next to her friend later that night and told her not to worry. "We'll be sure to bring you a slice of this cake every month." What started as a heart-centered gesture has become a company built out of the idea that people deserve to feel heard, seen and gifted during a time of the month that ain't always pretty.
A space to shed the stigma + talk about periods as naturally as they occur in our bodies. A community where we can cultivate the belief that it's possible and important to satisfy our cravings and nourish our bodies — that we don't have to give up one for the other. In order to lead with integrity, we decided to team up with experts, bloggers + women alike to create Moon Cycle Bakery the way it deserved — with wholeheartedness, love + healthy alternatives that satisfied (and soothed) cravings.
There are a couple of ways you can order. Firstly, you can sign in as a Guest and order any quantity of treats to be delivered 1-2 weeks from your order date. The other option is to sign up for a monthly, 6-month or annual subscription that allows you to create a MCB profile, choose your package (2 or 3 treats/month), change your package or treat option every month, skip a month and track your shipments with your period so that your box arrives within the week of your period.
What led you to start a business around women, food, and our cycles?
When I worked in the fashion industry, I found myself chronically stressed and utterly depleted. I was like a walking shell and eventually started to have physical side effects, one time in particular landed me in the E.R. on morphine and in the worst pain I’ve ever felt. Aside from that time, it was little things like waking up with my heart racing, constant irritability, fatigue, etc. I decided to take responsibility for my health, holistically, and slowly began to gain awareness around the connection between the mind and body.
Previous to this, I had experienced my own hormonal imbalances ranging from challenging side effects from HBC, ruptured ovarian cysts and heavy cramping. All of this came together one day while sitting at my desk at work. I looked around me and saw so many fellow women feeling just as exhausted, frustrated and stuck as I felt and I knew in that moment, I needed to help women step back into their empowerment through a holistic approach. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this, but I knew I was. As the law of attraction states, you don’t need to know the “how”. Then one night, the idea for Moon Cycle Bakery chose me and the rest is history.
What went into the creation of your baked goods? How did you test recipes and find ingredients that help the female system?
Because I don’t have a background in nutrition, and integrity is a key value of mine, I chose to work with nutritionists to create our treats. I first worked with Katie Lemons, which was a total and complete blessing, and she helped create our first three treats. She researched which ingredients would help support the body during the menstrual cycle and which ingredients taste GOOD — we both agreed that it was just as important for these treats to nourish our souls as well as our bodies. From there, she made magic. Since our initial launch, I’ve continued to work with nutritionists and industry experts to create the treats we know and love today.
What are some foods you think we should be incorporating more into our lives?
That’s a question I don’t have a direct answer for. I’m a HUGE believer that everyone’s body is different and that a one-size-fits-all mentality is dangerous. In my personal health experiences, I’ve found what works best for ME through blood tests, talking with doctors, elimination diets, trial and error and listening to my body. I highly suggest others take the time to talk with their bodies whether that’s by eating mindfully and cuing into how you feel after you eat or getting your blood taken to test hormone levels, micro and macro nutrients, and whatever else makes sense based on YOUR body.
Do you have a dream collaboration or project?
I love this question and it’s something I want to spend more time dreaming up! My dream project would be to own a cafe where we sell high-quality, healthy foods and meals for everyone and have a part of the menu specifically tailored to different parts of the cycle including the 4 phases (menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal) as well as pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. The idea that women would be supported during each phase when they feel like maybe they aren’t sure what to eat or how to go about cooking it, makes my heart full.
I also love to curate, so the thought of being able to fill a shop with beautiful things made by heart-centered, grounded brands that help others feel good makes me so happy! I’m dreaming up that space and those feelings on a daily basis.
What makes you passionate about what you do?
The people. I love to create and love finding different channels of doing so, which is one reason I love this job so much. But on days where my creativity is zapped or things feel heavy, a customer will come through with an overjoyed testimonial and it completely recharges me. I love creating in a way I know is helping someone else, even if it’s just making them smile because they’re eating chocolate.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with your work?
I think like many entrepreneurs, there are personal challenges and setbacks we come against. Personally, these challenges take the form of self-doubt, fear of the unknown and instability. One thing I love so much about starting my own business is that each day brings something new. With that comes a loss in stability — no consistent paycheck deposited into my account every month, no 9-5 clock in and out, no definite holidays off. And to be honest, I love it! But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes it feels achy and hard.
How I’ve remedied it is by setting my own personal boundaries (all holidays off, shutting down my computer and walking away no later than 7, etc) and shifting my attitude! I may find myself working later than I’d like, but I can take a break midday and spend time with a friend or family member if I want and that freedom is everything. When it comes to self-doubt and the “imposter syndrome”, I’ve found what helps me is a strong community of fellow, like-minded people who help keep you grounded as well as a list of beliefs that you repeat on a daily basis. I joined a group called Thinking Into Results and it’s taught me how to be aware of thoughts I have, if they get me to where I want to go/who I want to be and how to nurture the thoughts that do allow me to step into a more evolved version of myself.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
As women in society, we come up against a myriad of challenges. I believe it’s extremely important to acknowledge that we’re connected in these challenges and to really SEE one another through the lens of compassion, awareness, and genuine support. The community, support, nourishment, wisdom and love for women from women goes back hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years ago and I feel that rooted connection in my belly. In part, it’s why I think having a period is a gift — it’s another element that connects us that only we experience.
Who are some women that inspire you?
My mom is a huge inspiration to me as our my ancestors (my great-grandmas and grandma) and my sister, as well as my friends and really just everyday stories of women following their dreams, raising babies, helping heal the world, helping others in need, using their voice, loving others (and themselves) and deciding that genuinely being themselves is enough.
What is something a woman has told you that you'll never forget?
“See yourself through my eyes.” My mom has told me this when I’m doubting myself or being hard on myself. It reminds me of my true nature and who I am if I unconditionally love myself, just like my mom loves me. It allows me to re-open my heart, analyze a situation instead of judge, have more compassion and be more open and loving to others.
What is something that you're really proud of?
I’m really proud of the person I’ve become and continue to grow into. I’m not perfect, and I’ve learned to love that. I try with my whole heart and I love with every inch of my being. I take risks, trusting life in the process. I know what matters to me and I continue to strive to make that a priority. And I want to make people happy. I want to change the world for the better, even if it’s simply being present in a conversation. Moon Cycle Bakery and my writing is a culmination of all of me and I’m proud of them, as well.
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
To not overthink and to surrender. This has been a lifelong challenge, but as I grow, it takes different forms. Currently in my life, that means saying no to work in order to say yes to life and not giving mental or emotional energy to work while I’m not working. For surrendering, I’m trying to have patience and trust in the process, not the outcome. To let go of how something “needs” to look and instead trust that whatever is needed and desired will be in one form or another. Oh, the possibilities!
What's coming up for Moon Cycle? How do you want to see it evolve?
Moon Cycle Bakery is no longer a little baby. It’s starting to walk and I am SO grateful for the team I’ve built who helps me support this walking toddler. Without them, Moon Cycle Bakery wouldn’t be. I’m headed to Europe to live, eat, laugh, cry, run, play in the snow, and love with my husband until January. I’ll also be meeting with people over there regarding MCB and dreaming up what MCB international would look like.
Our team went to the TEDWomen’s conference at the end of November — a total honor — and heard from some of the most inspirational changemakers out there. We’re also headed to ExpoWest in March and hope to meet lots of our customers in person there. I’d love to see Moon Cycle Bakery continue to reach people from all over and continue to serve them, their bodies and hearts. In the first half of 2019, we’ll be launching a lifestyle course on how to care for yourself during each phase including science backed research, recipes, shopping list, yoga/ways to move your body, astrology wisdom and much more. I think what I most look forward to is continuing to organically and genuinely connect to our customers.