Anabel Lee (she/her) is the owner of and baker behind Frolic & Detour Bakery, a small pop up bakery in San Francisco creating treats that are comfortingly familiar yet playfully unconventional. When baking, Anabel subtly draws on her Chinese-American background, love of sweet snacks (strawberry Pocky and Dunkaroos forever), and experiences working at 20th Century Cafe and OYATSUYA.
1. What are the core values that drive your work?
It sounds so simple, but when someone is holding a box of Frolic & Detour cookies, I want them to feel the same total happiness they felt as a kid eating their favorite foods. I actually think about the Happy Meal a lot — how perfect the name is, its distinct smell, the certainty of how good that little hamburger is going to taste, and the surprise of the toy inside (I really wish I had kept all my mini Beanie Babies!). As I go about baking and thinking about what I want Frolic & Detour to become, I keep in mind the values of happiness, accessibility, and perfecting a small menu that people can rely on.
2. How do you create healthy boundaries between your personal life and work-life?
I admittedly have a hard time with this. There is a scene from The Office where Michael Scott says something like "business is the most personal thing in the world," and while I get that this is a joke, some days it kind of resonates. I'm just getting started, and I often feel like I am the business and the business is me, and that everything is a giant blur and that time is a rubber band. For the record, I was very good at enforcing boundaries between work and personal life at my old office jobs, partly because I didn't care about those jobs. But when you have your own business, a switch flips, and I'm not saying work won't feel like work anymore, just that you'll have a much, much bigger appetite for it.
3. What would you say to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Three things helped me start Frolic & Detour Bakery. First, I did a lot of informational interviews with small business owners. I still do these, and there's a lady in Texas who has a vegan ice cream business who I really want to chat with! People are generally happy to share their experiences, and listening to others' stories about starting new businesses is always educational and inspiring. I also recommend taking a business planning class. I took one in San Francisco with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, and it was unbelievably helpful and made me consider all sorts of aspects of running a small business that I had previously been oblivious to. Lastly, if the business you want to start is a departure from your current work experience, I think it's important to work a couple jobs in the new field you want to start your business in so that you know what you're getting into.
4. What is a new skill or hobby you want to conquer next?
I really want to be good at camping and backpacking, like know how to tie proper knots and when to use them, how to build a small cooking campfire, and how to read a topographic map. My husband Michael introduced me to camping, and it's still a new-ish hobby to me. It's fun to let go of everything for a bit, be surrounded by trees all day, jump into lakes, and look at the stars at night.
5. What does the world need more of?
Hugs, snail mail, and the first three seasons of The Office need to be back on Netflix.