Magnolia Bakery’s CEO Says Her 1-Hour Walk To Work Every Day In NYC Helps Fuel Her Creativity For The next Viral Recipe

Fortune Well February 18, 2024

Lifestyle

Magnolia Bakery’s CEO Says Her 1-Hour Walk To Work Every Day In NYC Helps Fuel Her Creativity For The next Viral Recipe

Nestled on a cobblestone corner in Manhattan’s West Village sits a world-famous bakery that has tantalized the taste buds of locals and tourists alike since its inception in 1996. Now, with 10 locations across the U.S. and almost 30 stores internationally, Magnolia Bakery continues to be a mainstay for satisfying sweet cravings. 

Guiding the evolution of Magnolia’s ever-expanding menu is the visionary 66-year-old chief executive officer, Bobbie Lloyd, also known as the self-proclaimed “Chief Baking Officer” (CBO). 

“I made up the title,” Lloyd told Fortune

Lloyd has held various leadership roles during her impressive 18-year tenure with the company. As the architect behind many of Magnolia’s confections, Lloyd has introduced signature delights such as the strawberry buttercream chocolate-covered brownie bite and the salted caramel banana pudding, and even coined the “Carrie Cupcake,” a homage to the iconic character from HBO’s Sex and the City.

Her test kitchen, conveniently located across from her office, is a space where Lloyd experiments with different variations of pudding flavors, cupcake textures, and buttercreams. Being immersed in a world of sweets has given Lloyd a balanced perspective on eating  desserts. 

“I look at sweets as an indulgence,” she said. “I don’t eat them every single day, but close to it.” 

Lloyd acknowledges that her cookies, cakes, and puddings might not be the epitome of “healthy,” but she insists Magnolia is committed to excluding artificial additives from its products, and promises that each bite is “baked from scratch.”

The executive’s pursuit of balance extends beyond sweet treats: “I always take care of my health,” she told Fortune. “Whether it’s walking, running, yoga, mental health, meditating, stretching, I’ve done it my entire life.”

 
From 100th Street to 54th 

Lloyd’s secret to relaxing before heading into the office? “I walk to work almost every day,” Lloyd said. 

The CEO told Fortune she walks approximately three miles from her Upper West Side apartment to her Midtown office every workday. This one-hour trek serves as a personal ritual, established during the pandemic. Despite the challenging times, Lloyd remained committed to her routine. 

“I actually did go to my office every day,” she said. “I was the only one there.”

For Lloyd, this morning walk was essential for clearing her mind and finding relaxation. It was also an opportunity for her to witness the city’s dynamic response to the pandemic. Each day she embarked on a different path, observing the ebb and flow of businesses—some closing their doors, while others resiliently reopened. To this day, Lloyd continues to walk different streets, often finding herself cutting through Central Park, Columbus Circle, and Broadway. 

The three-mile walk is a natural fit for Lloyd, who is a lifelong runner. “I always talk about running as being my form of meditation. Lloyd said. “Other people may not say that about running, but for me, it’s about resetting the brain.”

Depending on the season, Lloyd tries to run “two or three times a week.” In the winter, she prefers to exercise by walking Manhattan’s flat roads, as it offers a lower-intensity workout option. These morning strolls set the tone for Lloyd’s 12-hour workdays, and she gave Fortune an exclusive peek into her daily routine. 

 
Walk, work, cook

6:00 a.m.: On weekdays, the executive wakes up, and does a 15- to 30-minute yoga routine in her New York City apartment. Lloyd always makes sure to start her day with a glass of water before drinking any caffeine. 

“I’ve been told my entire life that it helps to clear your brain and set your body for the day,” she said. 

8:00 a.m.: Lloyd rolls into the office between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., depending on her walking route for the day. She prefers to arrive before her team to review emails and establish a solid foundation for the upcoming day. Once at the office, Lloyd will start “with a big cup of coffee.” 

9:00 a.m.: Lloyd’s mornings are packed with four to eight meetings per day. But she emphasizes that these meetings are essential for fostering creativity and development.

“I think it’s a lot more fun to actually be developmental and creative when you’re in a room across the table from each other,” she said. 

On the days where few employees are in the office, Lloyd uses the alone time to carve out plans for the next three to five years, and look over the budget. 

12:00 p.m.: During the afternoons, Lloyd focuses on one-on-one meetings with staff members. However, she switches to the Chief Baking Officer role when she enters the test kitchen to work on new recipes. 

“The Chief Baking Officer hat is really project based, so it won’t be that often,” Lloyd explained.

This role involves working on upcoming products three to six months in advance, often collaborating with her team to taste and evaluate new flavors. 

8:00 p.m: Lloyd’s workdays can extend up to 12 hours. 

“It’s a long day,” Lloyd said. “But I absolutely love what I do.” 

She wraps up by the day by reviewing her work, checking emails, and setting the stage for the next day. 

After work, Lloyd typically walks halfway home before stopping for dinner with friends, going to the gym, getting a massage, attending charity events, or simply unwinding and practicing self-care.

On the weekends, Lloyd retreats to her house upstate to unwind with her husband. Surrounded by the tranquility, she tends to her 15-acre property and finds relaxation by working in her garden. There, she focuses on growing fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, and cabbage to include in her meals. 

But whether she’s in the city or upstate in the mountains, Lloyd stays devoted to her true passion of culinary arts. 

“I love spending my day in the kitchen cooking. That is a form of relaxation for me.”


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