This week, we’re catching up with Natascha Pearl-Mansman! If you’ve been lucky enough to make it to a Darling Doughnuts Pop-Up, you’re sure to recognize her (and you’re sure to be addicted to those sweet treats!). Read on to find out what downtown department store her Dad’s family owned, her go-to spot for breakfast with her husband, and what’s next for Darling Doughnuts!
Tell us about yourself!
Hello! My name is Natascha Pearl-Mansman. I’m an artist, wife, stay-at-home mama, and owner of Darling Doughnuts Artisan Doughnut Pop-Up Shop.
On Life in Glens Falls
I grew up in Glens Falls and have lived here most of my life. Upon graduating from high school I felt like I needed to get out, move to a big city and see the world. I lived in Boston for almost five years, and even spent a summer semester in China! I didn’t truly appreciate all that Glens Falls has to offer until I left, and moved back home in 2010. My biggest complaint about big city life - it never got dark enough at night to see the stars! Glens Falls has all the perks of city life with a small-town feel, and in just a few minutes drive you can be in nature. Within a few hours drive you can be in Montreal, Boston, or New York City, but we have world-class attractions right here in our own backyard.
Both my parents have spent most of their lives in Glens Falls as well, and we have a lot of family that lives in the area. My Dad’s family owned Pearl’s Department Stores which was in business from the 1920s through the 1980s, and they had a warehouse in the old WO building on Maple St. He collects historical architectural details, and I grew up in a house built in 1832 over by the Bay St Cemetery - it even still has thumb latch doors! Apparently the land the cemetery sits on used to be the fields of the person who built our house, and the surrounding homes were built for his children. I love seeing the preservation of our historical architecture around the city - I’m especially excited to see the restoration of that tiny home over on Culvert St!
My husband and I rent a duplex apartment close to Downtown in Glens Falls with our daughter and our two cats. We’re in walking distance to shops, restaurants, schools, and parks, so I think we’re pretty well situated! Plus, my brother-in-law and his wife live upstairs so we couldn’t ask for better neighbors. My commercial kitchen space is only a few blocks away - at least I don’t have very far to travel when I’m pulling all-nighters making doughnuts!
Some Glens Falls Favorites
My favorite thing about Glens Falls is all the events and activities we have throughout the year - from the LARAC and Zonta Festivals in the summer, to the Balloon Festival in the Fall, ice skating on Crandall Pond in winter, and Thursday Markets at the Shirt Factory starting up again in spring - there’s always something to do. We’re lucky to have a thriving arts community, and places like the Hyde Museum, the World Awareness Children’s Museum, the CR Wood Theater, and the Crandall Public Library to enjoy. I love seeing all the small businesses opening up and thriving downtown, it’s really come a long way since I was a kid.
A Perfect Glens Falls Day
On days when I’m not working, I love to take my daughter out for a brunch date downtown, usually Rock Hill Bakehouse Cafe (now the Exchange Cafe) for soup and sandwiches (and a cookie, of course!), or Samantha’s Cafe - their bananas foster oatmeal is so yummy! Then after a nap, we’ll pack up the stroller and take a walk to Crandall Park or down the bike trail - and stop at Cooper’s Cave for ice cream (I love their ‘baby’ cone - it’s the perfect size for a little one!).
On the occasion that my husband and I are both off on the same day, we like to go out to Poopie’s Diner for breakfast (love their homefries and the Villa Bread toast!). Admittedly between owning my own business and being a mom, and my husband’s work and his band (Joe Mansman and the Midnight Revival Band) we don’t get many opportunities for date nights - but when we do I love to go out for margaritas at Raul’s, have dinner at Aroy Dee (I either order the chirashi sushi or drunken noodles) or Downtown City Tavern (sunnyside up egg on a pizza, yes please!), and catch some live music somewhere.
On the Past
I still remember that epic snowstorm, I think it was ‘93 or ‘94 - we got almost 4 feet of snow and everything was shut down for the day. People were cross-country skiing down the road, and we had enough snow that we built an igloo in our back yard. I think it was that same year on my sister’s birthday that we caught a rare glimpse of the northern lights! A lot of people complain about the cold in upstate NY, but I love the changing of the seasons. When I’ve brought friends from around the country (and around the world) to this area they’re always blown away by how beautiful it is here!
…and On the Future
I would love to be able to open a brick-and-mortar location for Darling Doughnuts at some point! I started my business after my daughter Clementine was born. My goal was to earn enough money working nights and weekends to make my monthly student loan payments so that we could afford for me to stay home with her. I’ve always baked for fun - I make awesome bagels, pretzels, and even fully-laminated croissants and pan au chocolat, but it was my husband Joey who finally convinced me to get over my fear of the deep fryer and try making doughnuts. I knew right away that I was on to something! Our area has a ton of great cider donuts (we even had some in lieu of cake at our wedding!), but is lacking in the kind of flavorful yeast-raised doughnuts that you can find in the big cities. Sometimes I wish I had chosen to make something less time and labor-intensive (they take 10-12 hours to make depending on the batch size), but the response has been incredible. I’ve sold nearly 5,000 doughnuts in my first year in business, and have had the opportunity to work with many great local businesses and organizations. I rent a shared commercial kitchen space in town, but have reached the point where the demand has exceeded my current production capabilities, so I’ll be keeping my eyes out for a brick-and-mortar storefront in the future!
Starting May 16th you can find me at Thursday Markets at the Shirt Factory nearly every week til mid September! It’s great to see a building from Glens Falls’s industrial age reimagined as a space for artists and artisans to showcase their wares - and the food truck corrals are fun for the whole family!