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Posted on March 25, 2014
Claire Rolland has attended courses at the School - here she talks about her experience of setting-up a new bakery on Anglesey.
I had hoped that by the time this article was due I would have lots of photos of happy customers stood next to baskets of fresh bread but as you will see the journey has only really just begun. Having decided in 2013 to take redundancy and move to Anglesey I was keen to channel my energy into something different and see if there was an opportunity to couple my passion for baking with bringing something positive to the local community. Anglesey has fabulous local produce, cheese, meat, seafood, fruit & veg but there was a lack of a traditional bakery hence the Pumpkin Seed Bakery was born.
I spent the summer of 2013 visiting and working in bakeries to build up experience in the UK and France, that coupled with a couple of excellent courses at The School Artisan Food & The Bertinet Kitchen stood me in good stead to get going. I also started to canvass local opinion as to where people bought bread, what they bought, what they were missing and where the community thought the best location would be. The response was overwhelming, one event where I took a “Tasting Table” for two days yielded over 500 feedback forms completed and 400 email addresses of people wanting to be informed when we opened. There was almost a desperation for a good bakery making real bread, perhaps offering courses and getting involved with community groups and schools, the bread revolution was alive and well in Anglesey and just waiting for someone to get it started.
Everything seemed set but this is where it gets interesting.
Initially it seemed there was a lot of help available, local government grants, help from the bank, help with employing staff, it seemed everything was there in place to help encourage local business but as you can from the pictures it’s not quite that straightforward. We started discussion with both bank and local government bodies in Oct last year and the various grants and loans are just starting to come through. The government grants are great but if you apply you cannot order, reserve or take delivery of anything they will help fund until they approve your application which takes months. I fell foul of this with my oven and mixer, the oven had to come through the shop window so we had a specific time we had to take delivery when the shop work was happening. This was three days before I got approval for the grant, I explained but to no avail, they removed these two very expensive items from my grant! The Banks require more information, guarantees and securities than you would think possible. I haven’t even mentioned 3 Phase Power, we started talking to EON in October last year, the supply is outside the shop but has cost £5,000 to connect and we still don’t have a switch on date!!!!
Having mentioned all of the above the thing that has kept us going and kept us believing is the incredible support we have had from other business on Menai High Street and all the people who stop me or pop into the shop whilst I am cleaning and want to know when we will open, they seem as excited as me and it means a lot.