For the last two years, I have made sourdough bread in my home kitchen and personally cycle delivered it around Cambridge. I started with a few ex-colleagues and friends, but pretty soon, without any marketing whatsoever I was making to order, baking and delivering 70-80 loaves a day, four days a week. There was not much time for sleeping or anything else. Certainly not writing blog posts! It has been way more than a full-time job and that was even with turning work away as I simply could not meet demand. Of course this had its physical cost and eventually in June, I realised I had to stop for a while and properly address the issues of what the next steps of the business might be and how to carry on making and supplying bread to everybody in a more viable way.
Then two days ago I saw premises which I think could make an amazing community bakery. They are in a good position and with a bit of work have lots of potential as a bakery (and eventually a cafe/community space and I have lots of other ideas too….). Suddenly I am faced with the financial realities. It is for sale and I would need to raise perhaps £450,000 for the purchase (and then of course there is the rest but let’s just take it step by step!). To put in an offer within the next week, and for it to be taken seriously, I need to be able to prove that I have access to the funds. I can’t afford to do it on my own. I have a small amount of savings, I can ask banks what they might lend an independent baker. It was the moment to take a deep breath and dare to ask a very big question.
Are there are any Breadonabike customers out there, or anyone you know, who would be interested in having a greater connection to where their bread comes from and investing in this bakery project?
There has been so much demand for the sourdough bread I have been producing, way way more than I can fulfill from home and so I would really love to be able to find a way of providing a consistent local supply of excellent nutritious bread using organic and where possible locally sourced ingredients (and of having a space to teach others about bread and baking). To do this I really need premises from which to run the business.
I desparately want to find some way of making a bakery work but it is very tricky in a place like Cambridge where property is scarce and rents are so expensive. In certain developments there is even a veto on renting out property to independent businesses as you are too great a risk. Therefore attempting to buy premises, seems like a much better bet! Whether this property is the ‘one’ or not, it is focussing my mind on the financial issues. To be able to stand a chance in going for places that come up, I need to have a clear idea of what funds I have and could have access to. At this stage I am on a fairly steep learning curve as I try to find out how it all works!
Please do get in touch as soon as possible with any ideas at all, but obviously at the moment I am particularly interested in:
1. Offers of capital investment in an ethical, local enterprise as loans to the business.
2. Ideas for investment in an ethical, local enterprise as shares in the business.
3. Offers of financial or business advice appropriate to this phase.
The most wonderful and unexpected aspect of baking my bread and cycling so much of it round Cambridge over the last two years has been the people I have met, the friends and community I have found and the support for what I do. The whole process involved in making handmade, slowly fermented bread (and running a business) is hard work but the rewards have totally exceeded any expectations I had. I have found that there is something about good fresh bread which makes people so happy and if I could keep making, baking (and delivering) bread, involving local people and have some positive social impact on the community that would be amazing.
If you want more information about the potential premises or want to discuss anything further please do get in touch.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.