MOUNT VERNON — After graduating from Skagit Valley College’s culinary arts program in 2008, Christine Greenlaw didn’t open a bakery right away.
She spent 10 years decorating cakes, making coffee and working in catering and fine dining to get the skills to run her own shop. She took a dozen business classes at the college, and she scouted out what other bakeries and coffee shops were doing.
In October, the work paid off when she opened Indulge Bakery in Mount Vernon. She said it has exceeded her expectations.
“I think the scariest part is not knowing if customers will come,” Greenlaw said. “The community just loves it.”
Culinary arts staff say Greenlaw is the first program graduate to open a bakery.
Students who graduate from the two-year program earn an associate of applied sciences in culinary arts, and choose either a culinary or bakery and pastry emphasis. The program is accredited through the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation.
Dani Cox, a chef instructor, said the program emphasizes hands-on learning to prepare graduates to work in their fields.
Course requirements include an internship and a sous chef course where students learn management and business skills.
Lyn Highet, the college program’s food services manager, said chefs need passion and the ability to take risks, and an interest in business.
“There’s a certain passion that’s need for that, too,” she said.
Greenlaw said she put together a plan to remodel the bakery’s space, which was formerly a pet grooming business, repurposed old furniture, and hand-painted signs. She manages seven part-time employees, including a culinary arts student.
Her day starts at 6:30 a.m. and she works 60 to 70 hours a week.
“It’s what I love to do,” she said. “Being creative and making people’s day, it doesn’t feel like work.”
She said scones are the top seller, and her favorite thing to make is cookies.
Greenlaw, who grew up in Anacortes, said she wants to add two more locations in Skagit County.
“We’re very proud of her,” said chef instructor Shawnna Poynter.
Indulge Bakery is located at 1501 Parker Way #101 in Mount Vernon.