On the hunt for a new career path, former corporate media attorney Helene Godin noticed that the gluten-free foods section in her supermarket was expanding. She saw a business opportunity.
One year after leaving her job in 2010, she opened By the Way Bakery in Hastings-on-Hudson. It specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free, and kosher treats, everything from chocolate layer cakes to challah. The business has been so successful, Godin opened a second store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 2014 and just recently launched a third store on the Upper East Side. Godin now employs more than 25 people. Whole Foods also sells her creations in nine local stores.
How did a non-baking lawyer learn to make treats good enough to turn her store in Hastings-on-Hudson into a destination? “I took all of my legal-research skills and applied them to baking and building a business,” she says. That meant experimenting for four months just to find the right flour. She also recruited a head baker, Jeremy McKendry, who had worked for Mario Batali.
The fact that the baked goods are gluten-free “has to be an afterthought,” Godin says, as in, “Oh, by the way, that cookie you had is gluten-free.” Apparently, many baked-goods lovers, including those without dietary restrictions, agree with her. “Westchester is more of an untapped market than many people realize,” she says.