We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Layshock and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
That moment when you find yourself considering whether you should keep going or whether you should give up is overwhelming. Add in a dash of anxiety and a heavy splash of imposter syndrome, and you’re really in for a doozy of what ifs. When I’ve been at that crossroad, I take a step back and consider what brought me there. Is it coming from a place of rationality or a place of fear? The answer has always been the latter over the last few years running Voyager Bakeshop. From thinking I couldn’t compete with the “real” pastry chefs as a self-taught baker, to creeping feelings that I wasn’t worthy of my accomplishments, to every other trepidation in between, I’ve been there. I choose to keep going, because regardless of those worries I still wake up each morning ready to hit the kitchen and whip up something that will make someone’s day even better than before. In my experience, passion and intent always overrules that unease. So, when it comes to giving up or going on, reflect on where that question is rooted. If you find that your heart is still in it and it’s just the fear holding you back, kick it to the curb and keep moving forward!
What should our readers know about your business?
I started Voyager Bakeshop with no expectations of how it would actually unfold. I was leaving the teaching profession after seven years, and I was hoping I could turn a passion into a career. It wasn’t easy to step out of my comfort zone and start putting myself out there in order to try to make connections in the community. Thankfully, people saw something in me and gave me a chance, then those opportunities led to others until I had built up a reputation and created long-lasting relationships. The journey over the last few years has taught me that you really can’t depend on yourself to be successful. You need others to support you, challenge you, and even talk you off the ledge at times. In the age of social media, it’s so tempting to fall into the rabbit hole of comparison and competition, but it’s crucial to make friends in your own field. You most likely aren’t the first to do something, so instead of trying to beat others to it, just take pride in being unique in your take.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When I travel, my top priorities are coffee, food, and drinks. If I were to show someone around the greater Phoenix area, I’d use those categories to guide our plans for some killer days. If we were seeking coffee, I’d hope to track down Early Bird PHX for a lavender latte or another equally amazing specialty. If they weren’t serving that day, I’d head to downtown Mesa to visit Kimhak at Pair Cupworks; he’s a master of his craft and you can’t go wrong with anything be it coffee, sparkling, or tea. We’d have to make a trip to Peixoto Coffee Roasters, Mythical Coffee, and Dark Hall Coffee at some point too, so we’d probably end up happily over caffeinated. Favorite eats that are a must-have for visitors are Worth Takeaway for sandwiches that are part messy, part masterpiece, Dilla Libre for all the unique twists on quesadillas, FnB for a real showstopper of a meal, and Cotton & Copper for unique regional food and the most mind-blowing pie. Each evening would have to end with drinks. For a historical Phoenix dive vibe, we’d pop in to HB Hanratty’s. If we’re looking for a curated experience, we’d head to Bitter and Twisted, Undertow, or Highball. Time between all the gluttonous activity would be spent vintage shopping in the Melrose district, soaking in the southwestern beauty at the Desert Botanical Garden, or taking a trip to one of the great museums along Central like the Heard or PHX Art.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without a doubt, there would be no Voyager Bakeshop without the ones who lift me up and support me. That includes my family who still “ooh and aww” over every pastry I make, my friends who I can always count on to keep pushing me ahead with a firm hand, and of course, the clients who give me the absolute stupidest grin with each order. I would be nowhere without wonderful people in the community willing to give me a chance to get in the door in the first place such as Michela from Early Bird PHX, Tony from Snoh Ice Shavery, Julia from Peixoto Coffee Roasters, Lauren from Local Nomad, and Georganne from Frances. I cannot imagine this journey without the support of them and so many others, and I’m forever grateful of the opportunities I’ve been given.