While Subramanian enjoyed legal work, she still recognized it was unsustainable in the long run. "MoFo [Morrison & Foerster] was a great law firm and I really enjoyed tech transactions." But, she says, "It took its toll on me. It wasn't so much the hours; it was mostly the complete lack of control over my life."
Subramanian didn't know what she would do next. "My first instinct was to look for a tech company idea. I had been a technologist. My husband was a venture capitalist. But at the same time, [my business partner] David, his wife, my husband, and I, had for the last year or so, been playing with bagels. We spent a lot of Saturdays and Sundays baking, tweaking, playing with bagels, trying to pass David's dream childhood bagel test. Right around the time I quit Big Law, we had reached a point with our recipe that we were really, really happy with. Every time we shared our bagels, people wanted us to sell them. So you know, I had this great project and idea sitting on my lap."
Subramanian's bagel business, Schmendricks, shares commercial kitchen space with several other local food entrepreneurs in San Francisco's Mission District. The meticulousness that earned her an open invitation to return to her firm if she ever wanted to -- a rarity in the legal world -- apparently separates the wheat from the chaff in the bagel business, too. It also helps explain how Schmendricks can charge $3 for a bagel and still struggle to meet demand.
Though she now has some control over her schedule, it still requires waking up at 4 a.m. to bake bagels and not finishing until 7 or 8 at night. But, says Subramanian, "I'm the happiest I've ever been." Noting the reactions she gets at Schmendrick's weekly pop-up bagel operation, she adds, "People love food in a way that they never love attorneys."