Helen Lockett

For 58-year-old Helen Lockett (pictured right) early retirement has meant a complete career change rather than the chance to slow down. After completing the School of Artisan Food’s Advanced Diploma in Artisan Baking in 2017, Helen joined forces with friend Carla to set up micro-bakery Bakery108 in Bristol.

When Helen retired from her job as a Director of Nursing for the NHS she was looking for a different challenge:

“I was thinking about academic courses, when my daughter said ‘Why don’t you do something fun? What do you love doing?’ She was the inspiration behind me learning more about artisan food. I’d always liked making cakes and when I found the School’s diploma it seemed like a great choice.

“What I loved most about the course was being able to spend every day baking and learning from the best. Being taught by Wayne Caddy, Mickael Jahan and Rosie and Graham Dunton was a real privilege. Their support carries on long after you leave the School. Me and my fellow students have a WhatsApp group and Wayne is always willing to offer advice and answer questions.”

“I’d never made bread or croissants before and when things went right with my baking I got a massive sense of achievement. Seeing the huge pile of loaves we’d baked at the end of the day was a great feeling. The patisserie element of the course just took my skills to another level. The diploma gave me all the core practical skills I needed to work as a baker.”

“When I started the course my daughter’s words were ringing in my ears; I was there to have fun and I didn’t have any expectations about what I’d do next. But even though the work placements were a fantastic experience, I soon realised I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I started to think about setting up a micro-bakery and seeing where that took me.”

“My friend Carla is a keen home baker and cake maker and she’d always been really interested in what I was doing at the School. When I told her about my idea she said she’d like to join me, so together we’ve invested in and created Bakery108. It’s named after our combined ages; I’m 58 and Carla has just turned 50. Carla makes the cakes and I make the bread.”

“We’re running the business from my kitchen, which doesn’t look like my kitchen anymore! Wayne’s advice was whatever space you think you need, double it. It’s true, we’re storing ingredients all over the house.”

Bakery108 makes and delivers delicious artisan cakes, pastries and sourdough bread and baguettes to local people and businesses in the BS6 and BS7 postcodes. As well as a core product list, they are offering their customers different bread and cakes each month:

“We’ve had so much support to get things off the ground. My husband not only put up with me living away during the week while I was studying, now his house is being taken over and he’s our unpaid delivery man! My children are so supportive; they’re my testers. Another friend has given us social media training and we’ve got a business mentor from local food company, Pieminister.”

“It’s full-on, it’s taken over my life, but it’s great to be doing something I love. Bakery108 wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the School. I’ve gone from no experience of baking bread to being able to run my own micro-bakery. The diploma gives you all the skills you need to go out and get started.”

Find out more about Bakery108.

Inspired to set up your own artisan food business? Take a look at our range of food start-up business courses designed to take your business from wishful thinking to commercial reality.