Doron Greenblatt Petersan and Kirsten Rosenberg are serious about their commitment to a vegan lifestyle. But it is their lighthearted approach to marketing their egg- and dairy-free bakery products that has made Sticky Fingers Bakery the talk of the nation’s capital.
|Sticky Fingers’ cinnamon buns are popular with even the bakery’s non-vegan customers.|
“You’ll love our buns,” said the headline on the e-mail Rosenberg sent to an irreverent team of Washington, D.C. morning radio personalities. T-shirts proclaim “We’ve got the best buns in town.”
The bakery’s logo, with its cute, yet crafty-looking raccoon clutching a big sticky bun and the tag line “vegan sweets so irresistible...you can’t keep your paws off ‘em,” is becoming a familiar sight on everything from colorful coffee cup sleeves to baby bibs to the uniforms worn by riders in a local bicycle race (Sticky Fingers provided bakery products and coffee in exchange for logo placement). And, The Food Network has featured the bakery on several of its most popular programs.
Clearly, familiarity has bred results since Sticky Fingers’ sales have tripled since last year. Recently the bakery doubled in size, with a move to a new 1,600-sq.-ft. facility with café seating.
While being an award-winning vegan bakery is an integral part of Sticky Fingers’ identity, Petersan and Rosenberg always believed in the mainstream appeal of their bakery products.
“From the time we opened five years ago, we had an incredible amount of support from the vegan community, and we continue to maintain very close ties to those key customers,” Rosenberg explains. “But we knew our products were good enough to go up against even the best mainstream bakeries.”
Getting non-vegans to accept the possibility that chocolate cake, cinnamon buns and cheesecake made without eggs or any dairy products could be as rich in flavor and texture as their traditional counterparts presented a challenge.
Through a Web site, point-of-sale materials and advertising, the partners reach out to consumers with various health concerns, including food allergies, such as egg- and lactose-intolerance, that might otherwise inhibit eating most bakery products. Although they never position their sweets as “health food,” Petersan and Rosenberg do emphasize the fact that the bakery’s products are cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. Recognizing the prevalence of nut and wheat allergies among consumers, they also offer a number of products that are free of both.
Sticky Fingers is breaking geographical boundaries, too, with its Web site. Rosenberg has carefully selected key words, such as vegan bakery, lactose-free sticky buns and mail order cinnamon buns to ensure computer search engines give the site prominent positioning in online searches.
“Now our customer base is made up of about half vegans and half non-vegans, mostly D.C. area locals, but a growing number of people from all over the country,” Rosenberg says. “But one thing that all of our customers have in common is that they’re foodies.”