LIFE IS WHAT YOU BAKE OF IT: INTERVIEW WITH ALICE JEAKINS, FOUNDER OF BEE & BEAR BAKERY
95% With more and more people taking specialised diets seriously, it has become increasingly common to opt for free from foods. Once a niche concept that wasn’t so much about taste, as the only option to ensure that people maintained gut wellness. It has now opened to the mainstream and is enjoying a growing popularity that is showing no signs of slowing down.
When it comes to free from baking, Alice really knows her stuff. Taking inspiration from the quintessentially British flavours that she loves, such as Strawberries & Cream or Raspberry & Dark Chocolate and with that Bee & Bear Bakery was born.
The concept behind this exciting mail order Bakery is simple, good ideas start with great taste.This is closely followed by an emphasis on using locally sourced ingredients and finally ethical packaging that must be at least 95% recyclable.
Alice started out making muffins and selling them at craft markets, but soon realised that there was a gap in the market for perfectly balanced Brownies in a vast range of flavours. Unlike some free from foods, the Brownies from Bee & Bear Bakery have an unforgettable taste that is unparalleled, the flavour is astonishing, and the texture is beautifully moist.
Here we talk to Alice to find out what it takes to make it in the world of baking.
1. Tell me about your background?
It was never my intention to own a bakery, in fact it is so far removed for my original career plan. After studying the History of Art at Edinburgh University, I went on to work at Sotheby’s. I have always been creative, and art was my escape. From there I went into financial PR and worked as a PA to the Vice Chairman of the Brunswick Group. But like most first-time mothers, working in the city took me away from my family, so I knew that something had to give. That is when I came up with the idea for my business. I started by making muffins and selling them at food markets and fairs, selling them through the post was just a natural progression.
2. What inspired you to start Bee & Bear Bakery?
After having children, I wanted to do something for myself. Whilst the corporate world is exciting, being able to be flexible and be at home with my family was a priority. I have always loved baking, so I registered with the council and never looked back.
3. Where did the unusual name originate?
It is named after my children, Bee our daughter and Bear is our nickname for our son Rufus. I loved the idea of incorporating them into the business, after all they are the reason behind it.
4. What is the inspiration behind your recipes?
The main thing is to keep the ingredients as natural as possible. Then it is a case of flavours that I think work well together. It is always exciting seeing how new ideas pan out. Sometimes flavours work, other times they don’t. It really is trial and error.
5. Are there any exciting plans for 2019?
This year, I am moving towards natural occasion cakes. Naked cakes are incredibly popular and that fits in with the ethos of the brand. I have also been toying with some unique ideas to go with events throughout the year, such as themed Afternoon Teas , Father’s Day treats and I always offer Christmas Puddings – but this year there is going to be a twist! Watch this space!
6. Talk me through your average day?
Everyday I wake up at around 5am. I aim to bake three batches of Brownies before the children get up. After that, I take the children to school and then go to the post office to get the orders sent out. On the days that my youngest has nursery, I will have a blitz and bake as much as possible. I try not to encroach too much into the children’s time, as my business must work round them, otherwise there is no point.
7. What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
For me, the biggest challenge is all the other factors of owning a business, such as the marketing, SEO and blogging. When your business is relatively small you cannot necessarily pay someone to do those tasks, so you need to be able to take over all those roles. In the beginning I signed up for a networking group and that proved to be exceptionally helpful as the other members offered invaluable advice. Also, our ethos is to be as natural as possible, that includes packaging, I wanted to ensure that it is recyclable as possible, this proved quite expensive and so I shopped around to stay true to our beliefs.
8. What is your bestselling product?
Raspberry and dark chocolate brownies. They are so popular.
9. Where do you see the business in 10 years’ time?
My absolute dream would be to have my own premises and have someone working for me. Firstly, it would make holidays easier and secondly, for me, it would be great to have someone to bounce ideas off.
10. Describe Bee & Bear in one sentence?
Natural, free from, beautiful brownies.