Baked goods offer change of pace

Olympia honey baker: From transcription to baking, owner meets needs

rboone@theolympian.comJune 17, 2012 

When the going gets tough, the tough bake bread.

At least that’s business owner Julie Robinson’s approach, taking a lifelong passion and turning it into a wholesale bakery called Olympia Honey Baker after her other business, a medical transcription business called Olympia Transcription Service, entered a different phase.

She continues to run that business, but it’s not the business it once was.

Robinson, 57, who has worked in medical transcription for 36 years — 32 of those years with OTS — can recall the day when she was watching an episode of “Star Trek” and one of the characters spoke into a computer and the computer produced a word-for-word account of what the speaker had said. Robinson scoffed at the time, thinking, “That won’t happen in my lifetime.”

Well, the rapidly changing world of technology has a way of surprising us.

Due to the rise in electronic medical records and dictation software, there is less need for her transcription services. She once employed 12 people to transcribe medical records, but now that has fallen to two part-time employees plus herself. Two years ago, she saw the writing on the wall and then one day, while sipping her coffee and reading the newspaper, a line of dialogue in a Pickles comic strip got her attention.

“If it is to be, it’s up to me,” Robinson recalled reading.

Next stop: Olympia Honey Baker.

Robinson has spent the past year, with help from her husband, upgrading the kitchen to a commercial kitchen in her office space at 1713 State Ave.

After passing inspection, she opened for business in May. Right now her focus is on selling baked goods wholesale with plans one day to further convert her office space into a retail storefront.

Robinson has been a lifelong cook, following in the steps of her mother, who baked eight loaves of bread a week when she was growing up on New York’s Long Island. Robinson has eight siblings: five sisters and three brothers. She moved to the Olympia area in 1977.

Robinson, who said she has always been health conscious, plans to bake bread, cakes and pies for example, using only honey rather than sugar. Specialties include blueberry pecan pie and a chocolate honey torte.

Her first customer, J. Vee Health Foods and Cafe on Pacific Avenue in Olympia, just ordered another honey spice carrot cake, said Jody Malolua, a longtime employee. It’s the third week of selling the cake and cake No. 3 was recently ordered, she said.

“It’s very good,” Malolua said.

Olympia Honey baker

Owner: Julie Robinson.

Location: 1713 State Ave., Olympia.

Time in business: About one month.

Service: Baked goods, using honey instead of sugar.

Employees: One so far, but is prepared to hire once business ramps up.

Did you know? Robinson also makes canvas hummingbird feeder cozies, which keep feeders warm, and has sold 220 to date.

Online: More about Olympia Honey Baker can be found on its Facebook page.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/bizblog @rolf_boone

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