best of 2019

ANOTHER YEAR!

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I’m maybe more proud of this year than practically any other. After my business partner in Commissary! dropped out in late November 2018, I spent 90% of 2019 understanding aspects of the businesses I’d never focused on before. Instead of developing flavors, menus, and dishes and training worker bees, I focused on finances and big picture planning. I’ve emerged from a year where I pushed out of my comfort zone (cooking, making) and learned difficult new skills the businesses needed. This year I got serious about taking care of my crew + our fiscal health in truly sustainable ways for the long term and it feels so good. I’ve learned so much. As a result, I’m currently knee-deep in planning some big expansion plans for these small businesses. It’s exciting and scary and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re also currently in the process of becoming a Certified Woman-Owned Business, which has been a wild experience. Lots happening, all of it fun and overwhelming, just like I like it.

Aaaaand I wrote a book. I’m so proud of it, too! It was a glorious experience.

A few goals for 2020 I’m working on:

  • more affordable shipping options for chocolates
  • completely phasing out plastic
  • more beautiful packaging for chocolates
  • an increased chocolate wholesale program
  • an expanded menu at commissary
  • expanded hours at commissary
  • a no-waste grab-and-go takeaway expansion at commissary
  • increased quality control all around, as always, as ever

Onward to crew highlights!

xoxoxo

Lagusta

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  • CONFECTIONERY

AMANDA

Another amazing year @ Confectionery! Even with all the insanity going on outside of the shop in the real world, I get to escape it when I’m here. I’ve had so many highlights this year! Thank you to two of the best bosses anyone can ever have, thanks to my  coworkers who handmake everything everyday, and thanks to our amazing customers, local, first timers and travelers. Oh and to the neighbor pups! 

MARESAS BUTTER

foil wrapped vulvas

English cream eggs

Raviolis

Lemon polenta cake (I’m salivating) 

Strawberry Ice cream bars (imy summa freezer)

Passion fruit white chocolate macarons

Anatomical bleeping hearts 

Cookie tins 

RAINBOW SLABS really?

Earl grey bars

and Skulls!

The list goes on, and on. 

I won’t forget my first independent holiday shift- I killed it! Visiting Maresa’s brand new bakery, wowzie; bragging to everyone that Lagusta wrote a book! Pst, and now a podcast… shhhh! Attending my first Woodstock Sanctuary Gala, and lighting the Menorah for the first time. 

Cheers to another year of love, growth and friendship! 

 

VERONICA

Another year flew by in our sweet little east village sugartown!   

We had some great press this year (Gothamist ~and~ the Daily News) and all the new customers who discovered us from these articles, right around Valentines Day, was such a fun thing to witness. One of the best things ever, this year/decade/life, was this snarky comment left on the Gothamist article: “That whole store looks like a 9 year old girl’s diary.” Amazing. 
 
Also amazing: the passionfruit white chocolate macarons, the fleeting chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches from LL (plus the limited edition yuzu white chocolate ice cream bar! did you get one?), our cute mini freezer for all the frozen summer stuff, the absinthe black currant macarons, Lagusta’s always-hilarious signboards, the awe-inspiring beauty of the flower tablets (blows my mind every time), the beauty of it all, really. 
 
Maresa’s cherry blossom macaron. I mean, COME ON!
 
 
Also, getting to hang out in the shop talking about food all day and talking to our incredible customers. I ❤ you all. And shout out to all the neighborhood four-legged friends too! MJ, Jack, Sweet Potato, the two (separate) bulldogs that are both named Tater Tot (!!!), Gravy, Junior, etc. ❤ ❤ ❤  

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COMMISSARY

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KARA

about eight months ago standing in my backyard one day i knew suddenly that it was time to take lagusta up on that job offer at commissary! hawks had been flying over me in droves for months–lore says that hawks are message-bringers–and once realized, the message was so obvious! it was time to align my work life with my personal values, to do something right by myself professionally. after my interview i found so many pennies heads side up, more than probability should allow under normal circumstances but hey, comm creates anything but normal circumstances. ahhh, what a pleasure to work in a place where i can breeze right in and say hi to all my regular custies and coworkers because i love them, where i am respected for my essential self that feels unlimited and pure right up until the last second of each shift–i just love it! i never stop getting struck by it all!
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DANY

I joined the Commissary! crew a little late in the game in the middle of October, but these two & a half months have felt like the biggest part of my year. My start was entwined with changes abound and it’s without a doubt one of the best. The people I’ve met & worked with at Commissary! have provided an environment of love and support I can’t even begin to express the proper gratitude for. Navigating food world, learning all of the different chocolates, and discovering the magic of cambros are just a few of the lessons I carry with me into 2020. Comm has given me a sense of pride and fulfillment in my work and saying that I’m happy here would just not cut it.

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CHOCOLATE SHOP

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ERICKA

ok so I definitely wrote a long emotional journal entry about how 2019 was the worst year of my adult life and how the chocolate shop was one of the few areas of my life that was sound and comfy. but it was a little mopey and I don’t like that very much so instead i’m going to reflect on the times I felt the happiest at work this year, because of all my wonderful co workers! (In no particular order)

  1. every single time we ordered food. especially when I called karma road from my cell phone and they had to call me back but they just called the chocolate shop directly because they had figured out that we place a giant order nearly every sunday :/ 
  2. when Kate made me a giant baby pink felt silica gel packet. because that’s SO weird and now it’s on my fridge.
  3. dani’s gift to me for secret snowflake this year!! what! it was amazing!
  4. going bowling with everyone to celebrate Alexis! (ps we miss u)
  5. every hug from sam. if you know you know. sam gives the best hugs.
  6. THE MEME PAGE! this was technically started in 2018. But wasn’t that the best? that was so fun y’all are so funny and I already knew that but that page made it so real. 
  7. when deirdre went full aquarius on me and told me that if she could know anything about an alien race she would want to know if they interacted with Fibonacci’s sequence, or if they had a different pattern? 
  8. when lagusta called air pods air buds. like the golden retriever. these things write themselves. 
  9. building a milk cloud with rachel. the results of this sit on the commissary instagram and confused everyone. 
  10. when my mom became our accountant! this is just wholesome. except I was on the phone with her the other day and she hung up on me bc rachel was on the other line </3
  11. teaching mike the thing where someone knuckle bumps you and you say “turkey” and flatten your hand. he was totally blown away. I mean I get it though.
  12. when me and jenn discovered the song association game and probably initiated some of our new work friends into the energy of the shop in a really weird way. nothing says icebreaker like you have ten seconds to sing a song that says sponge in it.
  13. the other day I had to leave the shop because a yorkie came in and shelly didn’t even ask she just hugged me when I started crying. I miss my dog! I love shelly a lot. 
  14. one day vickie bought a blueberry pie and offered to share it so on a summer evening me vickie jenn and lagusta sat outside and ate blueberry pie with strawberry ice cream. xoli was sitting on my lap and it was so nice that day. 
  15. every funny morning meeting quip, every time I felt comfortable expressing something I can’t in any other space, every group hug, or hover hug, every dog (that we definitely don’t allow in the shop don’t worry), and everything else along the way.

despite anything outside of work, I had a really fulfilling, happy, and supportive year working with all of you. I’m so excited for the future of LL and I’m so grateful to be here. 

SAM G

I have worked in the night of the chocolate shop for over a year now, making croissants for the cafe and the city shop. I have cherished every milestone: the slow shift from concentrating-very-hard-still-fucking-up to seamlessly-working-the-dough-while-holding-a-conversation, memorizing the dough recipe and the butter recipe, shaving half an hour off of the total process time by changing just a couple of steps around…it’s all felt special and well-earned. Every night when I open the door to the dark shop, I stop and breathe in the good smells, acknowledge that good people have been doing good work in this space all day, and just feel grateful to be invited. I have two jobs, I work long days and nights, sometimes I am tired and it’s hard to leave my house. But when I get to work, I wake up. Nothing is exhausting, everything is satisfying, and with every task my brain smooths out a little. The dough unfurls, I do the same. I measure, mix, roll and fold, cut and shape, wash, clean, organize. My brain is along for the ride, breaks to make lovely observations, realizations born from total focus. In between carefully timed steps, I scribble thoughts from my clean brain onto scraps of paper— ideas and love thoughts and ways to be better. I walk home, body-tired, mind-kindled. I have done something that I feel is worthwhile. Sometimes the sun is rising and if it’s warm weather maybe a fat robin is walking alongside me, nervous and garbling. I like to be with the world in this way.

MIKE

A full calendar year. Lots of boxes going out to lots of beautiful people and places. Friendships growing stronger. Surprises developing into magical realities. 2019 was quite a year. 2020 will be even better.

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MICHAELA

wow, 2019. this year has brought so many changes to my life – the most special being starting this job. after a whirlwind of events, landing here at LL HQ was the best thing to happen to me for so many reasons. meeting all of these amazing people I’m so lucky to call my coworkers is definitely my favorite thing. I’ve never been in such a warm, loving, open space before where I actually look forward to coming into work. spending the days chatting about life, love, politics, intersectionality, what caramels represent us and belting out musical numbers (all while working – busy hands!!) makes me smile. as we go forward into this new decade I’m thankful for starting it by the side of these lovely people I get to call my friends. let this coming year, and all of those to come, continue to bring so much beauty, joy, love, and utter amazingness to everyone.
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JENN

I usually start off every one of these posts with something like “WOW THAT WAS A DOOZIE” but this has been one of the best, most transformative years I’ve had at the shop and in my life! This year brought a lot of new faces and friendships, and for that I’m forever thankful. I always enjoy the buzz and excitement of holiday season, and this year our efficiency was *so close to 100%* that I enjoyed it more than ever. While this was a great year, I have to admit I’m so glad 2017 is finally coming to a close so we can just get on with 2018 already, right? [ed note: this is a joke to me because i can’t seem to remember what year it is. roasted!! — lagusta]

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DEIRDRE

Even though I haven’t worked at the chocolate shop for very long, it feels like a comfortable place for me where I can tie up my apron and get into a rhythm. I like the balance of a supportive work environment and overall kind and excited customers. I like being able to talk about politics and theory and horoscopes and memes and life at work and feel held by the people there. I like challenging myself to pack as many delicate chocolates into a pretty box as quickly as possible. I like that I get to do that in a cozy, friendly shop with people who are kind and trying to do right and letting their human-ness show to allow other people to get just a bit closer to them than it feels like in other spaces sometimes. Thanks for creating a little pocket of the world where that can happen!
KATE

if the year was a playlist it would start with “honey” by robyn and end with the same. in like a lion, out like the same lion, just as soft, just as strong. the only lambs here are us. i’ve written so many year re-caps and they’re mostly all the same: i love this work, i love these people, no one can take that away from me, and there’s the beauty. this world we’ve cobbled together, together, it’s as sweet as we make it, it’s as warm as we want. in 2019 we solved problems, we cooked caramels, we shipped boxes, we held hands. often my cheeks burned red, sometimes frustration, other times elation. that’s how it goes and there are a million points between every start and finish, but if i have to put words to it, i’ll just say: we keep turning sugar into different forms of itself, and we’re not much different. ❤

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SHELLY

wow hi OK 2019 was one of the worst and best years of my life! I graduated college, moved into a beautiful new apartment, broke up with the same person TWICE, and became a manager (amongst tons of other bad and good things). Its funny to think all of this was happening while our little LLverse just kept going and thriving. No matter what I am going through, I always know I can come into work the next day ready for new challenges and a shit ton of laughs (and misandry, never forget the misandry)! I can’t believe I get to go to work with all of my favorite people every single day and for that I am so grateful. Here’s to 2020 being WAY better than 2019 and lets vote Trump out of office!

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C

Written and spoken word has always caused me to stop and stutter under an unknown pressure of being as fruitful and eloquent as I’d like to imagine I am. The need to wrap my feelings neatly in a box with a bow is a feat I’m left wrestling with. My feelings have been bursting at the seams since I’ve started working here! Though I know I was meant to communicate with my drawings I’m going to do my best to say how I feel, here. I hope I can show what I mean, through all my nervous typos that I hopefully have gone through and corrected.
I’ve never felt such a leap of faith as joining the LL crew.
My nerves broke way my trail day. It feels homey yet foreign being spun deeply into a world with its own traditions and language. I didn’t understand but I was excited to learn and every person I interact with more willing to show and to share.
Tradition and skills so lovingly passed on to the next. I’m so grateful to have been taught chocolatier-ing by those who love what they do and want you to love what you’re doing.
How do you say thank you to folks who have change your life? (Pause, I started tearing up)
I’ve never felt like I could be myself, wholeheartedly, in a space until now. I’m not even sure I was accepting my whole self until now. And the be in THIS space! These four teal walls! All these people who like me for me and are here to raise each other up for who we are. It makes my heart burst. (Another pause)
I feel so honored to be here. With you all. Making sweet vegan chocolate confections with my hands. In a space with people that I love. I can’t wait to grow with you all! I feel like when I’m here the energy is contagious, weather we are talking about sustainably, playing what celebrities are your last two brain cells, or just chatting about recipes. I feel so happy to be at home.
Every day and I smell like chocolate. A stray dot or two of chocolate on my face (from cleaning the enrober, I’m sure) but I’m always smiling now. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since September.
To growth? To burning who you thought you were to make way for who you are? To a family I’ve found. To a family that found me! To caramel burns and flinging cocoa butter everywhere but where you wanted it! To Lagusta for making this space feel like a home! To 2020.
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