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A recipe for (sweet) success

Amie Smith graduated from Northeastern in 1987 with a double major in journalism and speech communication and spent 20 years building a name for herself in corporate marketing and communications. Then she decided to open a bakery. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Amie Smith’s bread-and-butter had always been consulting. She graduated from Northeastern in 1987 with a double major in journalism and speech communication and spent 20 years building a name for herself in corporate marketing and communications.

By any definition, it was a successful career. But in the background was an itch Smith couldn’t seem to scratch—a passion for baking that had burned in her since childhood.

At some point, Smith realized she wanted her bread-and-butter to be actual bread and butter.

Smith and her husband, Jim (who is also a Northeastern graduate—he graduated in 1988 with a degree in industrial engineering, and the two met in college), were living in New York City when the Great Recession of 2008 hit.

“We bake everything from scratch every day,” says Amie Smith, far left. “If we’re making scones, we beat the butter and the sugar and the flour. We’re bringing back the bakery from yesteryear.” Margot da Cunha, right, a baker at Amie Bakery, prepares cake batter from scratch. Photos by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The once-thriving consulting business that Smith created, Wordsmith Ink, slowed down as the stalled economy forced other businesses to cut costs. 

Finding herself with unexpected time on her hands, Smith enrolled in a professional pastry class at the Institute of Culinary Education. She’d taken recreational baking classes there before, and enjoyed them, but wanted a challenge she could really sink her teeth into. 

The course unlocked something within her. 

“Suddenly I rediscovered this passion I’d always had,” Smith says. It reminded her of childhood, growing up in New Jersey, where good, traditional bakeries were always just around the corner. 

Smith’s father was a baker, but quit the profession after she was born because the job required long hours and early days—time he could better spend with his family, Smith says. Still, her father would occasionally bake with her in their kitchen, the two of them elbow-deep in a crock pot (the only thing big enough to hold all the ingredients) full of dough for butter cookies. 

Amie Bakery outgrew the 625-square-foot building where it started and Smith moved the business to its current location on Main Street in Osterville, a village on Cape Cod, where on a late Tuesday morning in early July, the bakery was humming with activity. Photos by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

“The things I made in class [at the Institute of Culinary Education] tasted like things I grew up with; things you just don’t find anymore,” Smith says. They tasted like butter. And lots of it. 

“I loved it more than I ever thought I would,” Smith says of the course. Soon, her baking “took on a life of its own,” she says, and she dreamed of opening up her own bakery one day.

Smith took the job—which was supposed to last six weeks but ended up being a three-year partnership—but never lost sight of her baking dream. While she was writing and doing work for her clients, Smith began drafting the logos for her would-be bakery. She chose fonts, color schemes, and established the overall aesthetic feel for a bakery that didn’t exist yet.

“I always felt that if I built it, they would come,” Smith says. “And they did.” Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The next step was pure chance.

It was April 2014, and Smith was getting the oil changed in her car in Osterville, Massachusetts, a village on Cape Cod. By then, the couple split their time between New York City and Osterville. The mechanic mentioned that a business in town was closing, had she heard? 

Smith’s mind raced. The building would need a lot of work (she’d have to gut it), but it could be a great little bakery. She and her husband talked it over, weighed the risks, and bought the building. 

“I couldn’t die knowing that I didn’t at least try,” Smith says. 

Amie Bakery opened in December 2014. It had a small, dedicated following that grew quickly. 

The bakery was featured in the Cape Cod Times in 2015, and on a local TV news spot in 2016, and since then, Amie has won best bakery in either the Cape Cod Times or Cape Cod Life magazine every year, Smith says. 

“Our business just skyrocketed; I really think we’re fulfilling a need for this community,” Smith says. 

Business soon outgrew the 625-square-foot building and Smith moved the establishment to its current location on Main Street in Osterville, where on a late Tuesday morning in early July, the bakery was humming with activity.

Smith hopped back and forth from the kitchen to the counter, making mini-doughnuts, greeting customers, and offering recommendations to wide-eyed customers.  

In the store, visitors could look through a large window into the kitchen, where they’d see blocks of butter being measured out and egg whites being separated by hand. These efforts, so familiar to home-bakers, aren’t always the norm in commercial bakeries.

“We bake everything from scratch every day,” Smith says. “If we’re making scones, we beat the butter and the sugar and the flour. We’re bringing back the bakery from yesteryear.”

They’re also moving the industry forward. Smith offers culinary classes for the community, held in the Amie Bakery kitchen in a program called “Amie Academie,” and she’s taught classes in Northeastern’s Xhibition Kitchen.

Smith acknowledges that she’s come a long way from sketching out bakery logos in her spare time as a consultant, but with the air of a person who always believed it would work out. 

“I always felt that if I built it, they would come,” she said, invoking the famous line. “And they did.” 

For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu.

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