Windsor-native Emily Woodward is no stranger to taking chances.
Just a few years ago, a bad day at work at Barnes Aerospace led her to take the chance of a lifetime. That chance landed her a job working at the bottom of the earth.
Her seasonal position as a dishwasher, baker's assistant and hydroponics greenhouse technician in Antarctica's harsh climate (her time there was spent in temperatures between -40º and -70º) was the result of what Woodward calls "the best decision I ever made in my life."
"I always told my parents that I wanted a job that paid me to travel, and that'e exactly what they did," Woodward explains.
The Windsor High graduate is now hoping she'll be able to say the same thing of her most recent chance of a lifetime: Get Baked, a bakery in the heart of Windsor Center that churns out fresh baked breads and treats from its Central Street oven.
Like her travels to Antarctica, Get Baked is founded on a lifelong ambition for Woodward.
"I love to make bread. I've always loved to make bread, and my parents keep begging me to stop making it at the house because they keep eating it, so this way I can make it and share it with more people," she says.
That love for baking bread was fostered in Woodward's youth.
She vividly recalls baking with her grandmothers as a child; helping them with large tubs of flower en route to making corn muffins.
Her passion was again fostered when she was a student at Sage Park.
"I did Sunrise Restaurant with Ms. Barnett," Woodard recalls. "I used to go in (to school) with my dad - he had to get up and drive me to school at four or five in the morning - and he'd always stay for breakfast. I've always enjoyed baking."
So it was only natural that Woodward jump at the chance to turn her passion into a business. And when the space in the Central Street Antiques building opened up, things seemed to fall into place.
Having known the Selig family (owners of the property) for years, Woodward made a call and requested to take a look at the open space.
"There was a lot of equipment already here, so my initial starting costs were, not super low, but fairly low," she says. "I didn't have to do any renovation, I put new paint up, and I said, 'What's the harm in trying.'"
Since the shop opened Valentine's Day (her late grandmother's birthday), there's been nothing close to harm in trying.
The line to taste her baked goods - which on opening day included Jewish challah, baguettes, ciabatta, chocolate chip cookies and coconut lime cookies - trailed from the cash register to the door on Valentine's Day.
In true small-town fashion, she's also seen support from a number of local businesses, having had her baked goods featured at the Shad Derby Fundraising Kick-Off event, Hot, Rock & Dye's recent boutique opening and served with dinner at the Union Street Tavern.
It's enough early success that it should help quell her fears.
"[Starting up] is really exciting, but at the same time I'm just terrified of failure; always have been," she says.
"My dad always told me nothing is ever a failure. You can always learn something from it, so I just figured it's time for me to try.
"I know a lot of people in town. I grew up here; have been here by whole life… I like this town, and I think [Windsor] Center need something like this."
In addition to fresh baked breads and other treats, Get Baked is serving free-trade, organic coffee from New London's acclaimed Bean & Leaf.
With bread like no other place in town, coffee imported from the coast and a take-a-book, leave-a-book bookshelf, Woodward is most excited about providing a place for people to "come and hang out, and buy local, good quality fresh bread and other baked goods."
"It's just a change of pace from shopping at the grocery store and big-box places," she says. "And I can't wait to meet more people from around town as they come through."