Agribusiness grad ensuring a sweet future
By Alivia Roberts
Olivia Luse looked forward to the day she would walk across the stage to accept her degree and begin her career in the agriculture industry. But what Luse didn’t anticipate was that she would also pursue a dream and start a second business career.
Earning her bachelor’s degree in agribusiness: agribusiness management in 2014, Luse now works for her family’s business, Luse Seed and Insurance Services, Inc. In April 2014, she also started her own baking business: Backroad Baker.
“I probably shouldn’t admit this,” Luse said, remembering when the idea of starting her baking business occurred to her as she was sitting in class at Purdue, paying more attention to her phone than the professor.
“I stumbled across an Instagram account full of decorated cookies, and thought, ‘If I put enough work into this, I could do this.’”
Luse always had a knack for baking and decorating, so she knew her talents could take her far. She admitted that she didn’t expect her business to become what it is today. She simply wanted to see if she could decorate cookies like the ones she had come across online. While still sitting in the class, she ordered the cookie cutter she had seen on Instagram and went home the following weekend to experiment.
“That was in March 2014 and the first time I was paid for an order was April 2014,” Luse said. “I started an Instagram page to feature my work and the business grew from there!”
Creating decorated cookies from scratch is no walk-in-the-park, but Luse recalled her favorite part of baking and what keeps her motivated.
“I enjoy the process and the creativity behind it,” Luse said. “I’ll be honest, there are some orders I don’t get as excited about. But it’s fun for me when I can put the whole set together and see how the ingredients that started from nothing on my counter have turned into what I’ve created with my hands.”
After earning her degree in 2014, she started a full-time job while continuing the baking business in the evenings, but said she never found passion in her work and felt her calling was elsewhere.
“I decided I needed something different than the normal office job that I had originally sought out,” she said. “I needed a job with a little more flexibility that allowed me to be out and about building relationships with people. I also wanted something closer to home that would allow me a chance to grow my cookie business, because while I was at my desk job, cookies were being pushed to the back burner.”
Ultimately, Luse felt passionate about continuing her cookies and knew she had to make a decision. So, she found herself back home in Lebanon, Indiana, working with her family’s seed and crop insurance business.
“I knew there was always an opportunity for me to come back to the business,” Luse s
aid. “So, I spoke with my parents about it and began selling crop insurance full-time in January 2016.”
Once Luse was exposed to the world of crop insurance, she found she had a genuine interest in helping protect farmers from risk while continuing to grow her cookie business. She was at home, close to her loved ones, and working two jobs that she truly enjoyed.
“I knew I wanted to be able to work with farmers and help farmers, so that’s the most rewarding part of my job,” Luse said. “Crop insurance isn’t the most fun thing to talk about, and many farmers hate having to pay for it, but in a bad year, it can essentially save your farm and family’s well-being, so it’s rewarding to be able to offer that support.”
Luse’s career with Luse Seed and Insurance has given her the flexibility to continue growing her cookie business. Now she can also focus on creating quality cookies for her customers.
Backroad Baker has grown exponentially since Luse’s graduation in 2014, and she still can’t believe that people pay her to do something she is so passionate about. Plus, she said she gets to use her creativity to make people happy, and that’s the end goal in life.
“I love seeing people’s reactions to the cookies,” Luse said. “It’s a blessing to be a part of such big life events for the customers I work with, and I try not to take that for granted. I love that I can make people happy from the gift that God gave me, and I’m blessed to have found my gift at such a young age.”