Ontario college professor leaves job to pursue baking career to deal with anxiety
A Markham college professor who left her job due to the anxiety it was causing her is now pursuing the exact thing that calms her down: baking.
Robyn Verley is behind R.J.'s Sweets 'n Stories (named for herself, Robyn Janelle) committing to the business in October 2020.
"I was unable to separate my home from my professional space. Also since everything slowed down, it was the perfect time for me to explore what I wanted from life and to deal with my anxiety away from teaching," Verley tells blogTO.
"I picked something that I wanted to be great at and enjoyed doing. I thought it was important that if I was going to start a business, it should be something I am interested in because being an entrepreneur is a lonely and challenging road that constantly tests my perseverance."
She added "Stories" as she's also calmed and inspired by reading and writing, often including motivational quotes along with her treats.
"Apart from baking, reading and writing inspired me to take more chances. It gave me an opportunity to see the world in a different way," says Verley.
"These sweets mean more than just a momentary indulgence. I wanted them to inspire people. Make the impossible possible. And make them feel like if you take a chance on yourself, and believe in yourself, you can be the person you’ve always wanted to be."
Verley worked at Canadore College for four years and Oxford College of Arts, Business and Technology for a year, mainly teaching courses based in business communication.
She incorporated in November 2021 with business help from organization Foodpreneur Lab after a year of testing and sharing recipes with friends and family. Verley doesn't have a formal culinary background, but has done lots of home cooking and watched a lot of Food Network.
She mostly deals in cakes and cupcakes in beloved flavours like chocolate, vanilla, red velvet and cookies n' cream, and she specializes in vegan treats, especially at the markets she visits.
Her treats start at just $1 at markets, with cupcakes and bundles of three cookies selling for $4.50. She's sold out at the Stouffville Farmers' Market as well as a market in Toronto organized by Foodpreneur Lab.
"Baking holds a close place in my heart. I'm not exactly sure why I'm fixated on food but developing recipes and challenging myself to get the most flavour out of an ingredient makes me happy," says Verley.
"I love the challenge of coming up with a formula that works. And I love that there is always room for improvement because it has an endless amount of possibilities."
In addition to finding her at markets, you can also order Verley's treats online for pickup or delivery.
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