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Meet Leslie Haasch of Stress Baking in Hull

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Haasch.

Leslie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My life has always been relatively high-stress, and about six years ago I realized that baking really helped soothed that anxiety-filled beast inside of me. I would find myself baking two dozen cookies in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep, and once they were done (and I’d sampled a few, obviously) I’d be able to get some rest. There’s something about the vigorous whipping of frosting or kneading of dough that helps me channel my stress and anxiety into a constructive (and delicious) place.

I started posting recipes to a blog, mostly just for my family (hi, dad!) and it slowly started to pick up some momentum and turn into an actual traffic-driving site! And then one magical day in 2015, my Jack & Coke Cupcakes were shared by The Chic Site’s Facebook page, and my traffic skyrocketed – and that recipe is still the most viewed and shared recipe on my blog today!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Things have definitely not glided along smoothly, and I’ve hit a bunch of Massachusetts-worthy potholes along the way.

It takes a lot of effort to build and maintain a blog, especially a food blog. You have to constantly come up with new recipe ideas, try to be timely for the season and what’s trending, set up an appealing stage for your food with props, take bagillions of high-quality photos, taste test, fail and start the whole process over again. It can be very frustrating, sometimes to a point that you throw your hands up and say, “I quit!” But because I’m me, “I quit” lasts about all of one day and then I’m back at it again.

An even greater challenge is trying to stand out in a very large pool of other food bloggers on the internet. You need to have a niche and it needs to resonate with people. I believe that the people who follow my blog appreciate good food, easy to follow recipes, and a healthy dose of sarcasm. Sarcasm is basically my second language and one of the ways I deal with stress and tough times.

Personally, I found myself with a host of health problems a few years ago that made it tough to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone continue blogging. I’ve had endometriosis since I was about 11 years old, but it got significantly worse and drastically impacted my day to day life. On top of that, I was also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The two combined lead to weight gain, horrible skin problems, a never ending menstrual cycle with pain akin to pure torture, a sudden development of intolerance for dairy, gluten and sugar, severe problems sleeping, and a laundry list of other issues. It was hard to get myself to work each day, to eat, and to not fall asleep where I stood. The idea of working on the blog seemed completely impossible, until I realized that I could use my “good” days to try developing recipes for people with the same food intolerance issues as I was experiencing. So, since that time, I’ve been trying to work more paleo recipes into the mix, and people seem to really be enjoying them!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Quite honestly, I think what makes Stress Baking special is just that I’m an open book and I don’t try to sugarcoat things (which is funny, since I spend a lot of time literally coating things in sugar). There are a lot of food blogs out there, a lot of bloggers who focus on desserts, and a lot of sites dedicated to paleo diet-friendly recipes – but I feel like I give people a place to find all of those things, along with some laughs. People have written me to let me know they really enjoy the stories I share and the humor that comes along with them because it makes them feel like they’re reading an email from a good friend. And really, we could all use some more friends!

What were you like growing up?
Oh, man… growing up, I was a tomboy who loved basketball and hockey, but also a band nerd who played clarinet in the marching band. I loved music and animals, and hated people who were fake. Baking at Christmastime was always something I looked forward to, and I always dreaded summer heat. I’ve always longed to live near the ocean and spot seals in my spare time.

That all still rings true today! In fact, I just bought a house on the south shore with ocean views, and I take the boat to work in Boston each day. I think the only real difference between me growing up and me now is that I’ve learned I can wear clothes other than NBA jerseys and Keds.

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