Bloom Bakers specializes in beautiful, personalized heart-printed cookies. It was launched by friends Saskia Roskam and Lisa Shepherd in 2016 with just £500 and just 3 months after they decided to ‘just do it’. They built the business despite the fact that they had very young children, or maybe because of them!
Today they ship their cookies to order across the UK and bake for well-known brands such as Fendi, Amazon, Harvey Nichols, NatWest and many more.
Them branded and personalized cookies cater to companies looking for the finishing (sweet) touch for their corporate events, mailing lists, customer gifts, etc.
Why did you start your own business?
Initially, we started our personalized cookie business because we missed the taste of home (Germany and the Netherlands) and because we loved baking. As new moms, we have also been looking for a better work-life balance. Add to that the fact that deep down we are both adventurous. Before children, we lived a very colorful life. Starting a business created the same adventure in our minds.
how did you start?
We’ve been meeting to bake and talk about selling our baked goods at local farmers’ markets for years. But life always seemed to get in the way, and we had children…
We started the business as a home bakery, initially only selling to local markets in Leeds. However, our professional background in digital marketing soon allowed us to sell online and promote our brand through our website and social media channels.
We are still working from home as this is the best way to avoid wasting time with the kids. We have many friends and relatives who help us when we’re stressed, but we still bake all our cookies ourselves and by hand.
What were you doing before you started your business, and how has this experience helped your enterprise?
Lisa worked in sales and digital marketing while Saskia worked in journalism and digital marketing before founding Bloom Bakers. Digital marketing is an incredibly important skill these days. Understanding how to work online really made a huge difference to us as a business. I would say that 90% of our clients come to us through our website.
How does family fit in with business?
We are wives of husbands, and each has two children. So yes, sometimes it gets a little tricky. But working from home means we can be flexible to work with children. We don’t rely on extracurricular clubs, we can spend time with our kids. But we also bake a lot in the evenings, after the kids go to bed. We couldn’t have done this without our partners looking after the kids when we visit markets or weekend events.
What are your values and what role do they play in the business?
We are both very similar in many ways. When we first started, we quickly noticed that our experiences and outlook on life are very similar. And it helped a lot brand building. There was a feeling that we both treated the brand in about the same way. We wanted it to be kind, thoughtful, simple and clean. We hope we succeeded.
We align our values very well and that makes running this business a lot easier. From the very beginning we said we wanted to be honest and authentic. Both in how we communicate with the outside world and with each other.
We strive to minimize our environmental impact (which is why we use recycled packaging and compostable bags). And do not complicate, rejoice in the little things, spread the good.
What are the high points?
After almost 4 years in business, the culmination is that the foundation is done. The foundation of Bloom Bakers is laid. It took a lot of hard work. But now we can build on it.
Seeing what we have built with just a £500 injection of money and amassing our own wealth is very rewarding!
And we have to be honest, baking for some of the aforementioned reputable brands is very, very exciting.
Balance between parenting and business life. Sometimes we feel like we’re not good at either role, and it’s a constant balancing act that can fuel guilt.
Fulfilling corporate orders for thousands of cookies can also be challenging. The first major order we placed for over 1,000 cookies was a blind order. We came up with a biscuit recipe for a world famous spice brand. But they wanted 8000. We swallowed but said yes. And although we had never done this before, we knew that by saying yes, we should do it. Don’t ask us how we did it, but we did. It’s hard when you’re in it, but when it’s done, the feeling of accomplishment is brilliant.
Money – if you needed funding for a startup or growth, where did you get it from and how was the process?
As mentioned above, we have invested around £500 in the business. With this we paid for our first market sales. Cookie bags, cake boxes, ingredients, tools, domain registration etc. We went to thrift stores to find props for our first market.
For the first 2 years we didn’t get paid from the business and we both worked 4 days a week. Examples like this demonstrate that you have to love what you do or 2 years will seem like a very long time.
Marketing – tell us about a marketing tactic that really works well for your business? What are your main sales channels?
Our main sales channel is our website, which we have developed, hosted and updated ourselves. We both have experience in digital marketing and understand what it takes to be successful online.
A lot of engagement also comes from Instagram. While we also have Facebook and Twitter profiles, there are far fewer clients coming in for us from those channels.
Technology – how does technology fit into the business?
I must immediately think of our printers here. We currently have three. Conventional, edible ink printer and 3D printer. We really benefit from having all these printers and it’s also a great way to keep challenging ourselves.
What are your future plans or goals?
We want to become the leading provider of branded biscuits in England, ideally attracting regular customers such as boutique hotels or businesses that need a regular supply of biscuits. We want to continue to grow and succeed in balancing family life and being business owners.
Three things you learned?
When it comes to a business partner, in our case, 1+1 does not equal 2, but equals 3+. What you can achieve and the comfort that comes with being able to discuss ideas with another person is priceless. This process can be very lonely, and it’s so nice to have someone by your side who understands what reality is.
Just building a business is not enough to get clients/customers. You must continue to come to the table with fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Because nothing will happen in your own business unless you do it yourself! Especially in the first three years. So much inoculation and love needs to be put into it to keep it going.
What is your best advice?
Do what you love and you will succeed. Start building your business with the skill set you already have. Use them. Draw strength from them, because the beginning is difficult. From there, learn the basics of everything vital to running a business, and then outsource it when your business can afford it.