by Lisa Cadigan
This spring, we turn to a number of community leaders to explain how the arts intersect with their work. This series leads to the “ABC 50/50” campaign set for April 26-28. Look for exciting details to come regarding Arts Benefit Children (ABC)!
Today’s article is features Marc Jalbert, entrepreneur baker and owner of the Gettysburg Baking Company, which is nestled in the corner of Lincoln Square in Gettysburg.
Adams County residents as well as visitors from near and far are familiar with the Gettysburg Baking Company, its baker/owner Marc Jalbert, and the beautiful and delicious artisan breads and pastries the bakery offers. (If you’re not – go visit and buy a seeded twist!) Jalbert has been a successful small-business owner in Adams County for twenty years. During that time, various incarnations of his bakery/café have seen success thanks to high quality products, impeccable customer service, and beautifully designed, well-managed spaces.
How did Marc Jalbert come to be such a successful entrepreneur and fixture in the Gettysburg restaurant scene? Was he a business major? Did he study hotel and restaurant management as an undergraduate? These are answers one may expect from a successful restaurateur, but Jalbert actually began his career with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Southern Maine.
After teaching art briefly at a private school following graduation, Jalbert realized he “wanted to do his own thing,” so he started freelancing as a graphic designer. Sitting behind a desk all day soon grew tiresome, so he followed his curiosity to learn how to bake – a job that allowed him to be up and about while working with his hands to create an aesthetic and delicious product. “I naively thought baking would be easier than cooking,” Jalbert confesses. But he also feels that his naiveté kept him in the game to keep learning. He took a few classes at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont after working as a self-taught baker for about six years, and moved to Gettysburg in 1995 with the intentions of establishing a bakery business and storefront.
How did his fine arts degree prepare him for running a business? “Every challenge that comes up can be thought of as a design problem,” says Jalbert. “Whether it’s marketing and designing logos and communications materials, setting up a space that is an efficient and user-friendly place to work and visit, or managing a staff, an artist is trained to look at the whole as well as its parts and how they fit together.” Jalbert had the additional benefit of being raised in an entrepreneurial environment – his dad owned a barbershop in Maine. An avid reader, he continues to read and learn as new challenges arise, but he says he uses his fine arts major every day.
“Artists are trained to be mindful and pay attention,” says Jalbert. “As an art student, you are trained to stop and look at things – it’s a more open-ended means of problem solving, which may be more suited to ‘jobs of the future.’ Who ever heard of a webmaster 20 years ago?” Rather than education that strictly trains for a task, Jalbert suggests we consider focusing more on education for creative thinking as jobs that didn’t even exist in the not-so-distant past continue to evolve in our society.
If you visit his shop and pay attention, it’s easy to notice the details of the artist in the space, from the warm and welcoming color scheme, to the use of space; from the accessories carefully chosen to display his wares, to the beautiful details in the shape, texture and color of each loaf and pastry. And don’t forget the taste. Everything is delicious.
As we kick off our Arts Benefit Children (ABC) 50/50 event on April 26 to raise scholarship funds for children to attend arts camps and classes at the ACAC, remember fellow community members like Marc, whose business contributes so much to the quality of life in Adams County. It is largely thanks to art education that Jalbert is able to contribute so much to our community as a small business owner and entrepreneur. Help us continue to foster new generations of creative thinkers and doers by participating in ABC 50/50. Stay tuned for more news on this exciting event.