Making Rochester a Little Sweeter. Meet Jennifer Johnson of Misfit Doughnuts

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Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My name is Jennifer Johnson and I am the owner of Misfit Doughnuts and Treats, an all vegan doughnut shop located in the upper Monroe Ave neighborhood. I moved to Rochester in 2010 and have loved living here since.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
When I was a child I wanted to be an artist or a photographer.

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How did you get started? What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?
I moved to Rochester to go to RIT to get my degree in Photography. While I was attending RIT I was planning on moving to a bigger city to pursue food photography full time. Something happened while I was attending RIT I slowly fell in love with Rochester. The more I explored the city, the more I discovered the more I wanted to live here. When I graduated I went to work as a full time photo assistant. I worked for just about every professional photographer here in Rochester. I was still only working part time and needed to supplement my income, I became a part time baker at a local restaurant. I had always loved baking doing with it my grandmother when I was growing up. When I went vegan I veganized all of her recipes. For a while I was a part time baker and a part time photo assistant. Eventually, I just started baking full time, started my own business and took the leap. I never had formal training and the only other restaurant I worked in before was in a country club when I was a teenager.

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In moments of self-doubt, hardships or failure, how do you build yourself back up?
Some of the challenges I faced when starting up are challenges that all business owners face such as funding, finding a place to work, finding good staff, and realizing that everyday you will have challenges that range from miniscule to monumental. 

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What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
In moments of self doubt and hardships I always try to maintain a positive attitude. I am so grateful for everything that has happened in my life even the most enduring experiences. Difficult experiences are part of everyone's life and it's not what happens to you but how you choose to respond to them. When I realized that my desire to overcome my fears and hardships was greater than the fears and adversities I succeeded.

The best advice I can offer someone starting out is have a very strong, clear and concise vision, realize you can't do it all and accommodate everyone's else vision, Seek out other successful  business owners and talk to them. Don't be afraid to ask a 1000 questions and do research. Start out small and build a strong foundation. Realize that time is valuable and don't overextend yourself.

I wished that someone had told me to delegate sooner. When I first started out I was trying to do everything myself and I almost burnt out. When I started Misfit I made the conscious decision to delegate tasks away from that would allow me to focus more on the stuff that really mattered.

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Lettering by Anna Vos of Owl Post Lettering

What inspires you?
Everything inspires me. Music, art, photography, food, people, books, places and events. I am an extremely visual person and I am always trying to observe everything around me. I will see two color combinations and be inspired by that. Hanging out with my friends but also spending time alone to recharge my battery. 

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What is your favorite part of what you do?
There are so many positive aspects of what I do but my favorite part is the freedom of being my own boss. The creative freedom it allows me. I love creating new desserts. I love talking with my customers and getting positive responses from them. I love that food that I create can be enjoyed.  

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What do you find most challenging?
The most challenging part of my job is just managing my own expectations of time and criticism. I am extremely hard on myself and I it is a daily struggle to be content with myself.

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Name some local creatives that you really admire.
I am inspired by all the locals who are contributing here in Rochester. I like to think of Rochester as a quilt and each of us is patch in that quilt adding to the beauty and diversity. The whole is more beautiful than the parts. I know so many people that own small business here is Rochester or or involved with making the community better and I am so grateful to be a part of this. 

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