By Jon Olinto, Co-Founder
She goes by "Sister" because she's a nun.
Every Wednesday morning, Sister Nancy has been nice enough to let us use the school cafeteria she runs to test our recipes. (NO, I'd never have fathomed the possibility that I'd be rolling out bagels next to a nun at 5:30 a.m. But, YES, Sister Nancy is the best nun I could've ever asked for as a snarky, early morning baking partner.)
It's not normal. But, it's a pretty awesome quirk that'll always be a part of our business' origin story.
Let me clarify. Sister Nancy doesn't work for One Mighty Mill, nor is she helping us with product development (outside of being a loyal taste-tester). Nancy manages the "commercial" kitchen where we've been renting space for our testing. And by "commercial", I really mean a local High School cafeteria. It's a school that's just a couple of blocks from my apartment and the one where I'm volunteering to teach a class on entrepreneurship to a great group of kids from Boston's underserved neighborhoods. Since it's all about applied learning (i.e. education through experiences), the cafeteria is a key part of the curriculum. The kids see us working in their environment and have a tangible connection to the products, process and people. In a very real way, it exposes them to the start-up stage of a new business.
The whole thing isn't just good for the students. It's pretty ideal for me. The cafeteria is a 3-minute walk from my house, it's spacious with all the equipment we need, and it's filled with kids who we enlist for real-time taste-testing and feedback.
On top of all that, we get to work with Sister Nancy every week. At 78 years old, she is the definition of vivacious. It's still dark and cold outside when we see each other before dawn on Wednesdays. But, every single morning, Sister Nancy fills that kitchen with warmth, enthusiasm, and heart (and hilarious stories of growing up in Southie). She serves breakfast and lunch to more than 400 kids. And in some subliminal way, she serves One Mighty Mill positive energy and goodness. It's the kind of stuff that can only help us think good thoughts and keep us faithfully believing in the dream.