A passion for yeast cookery led Jill Smith to start up a brand new Plymouth business – baking and supplying speciality breads.
Her bread-making hobby, which started 30 years ago when her four children were little, has risen into a fully-fledged small company, The Bread Smith, with the help of the Business Link service for Devon and Cornwall.
Jill arrived in Plymouth two years ago after a high profile jet setting career as a speech recognition technologist. “But being on and off planes all the time and travelling all over the world did not fit in well with living in the south west with its very limited international links,” she recalled.
Looking for a new challenge after refurbishing her Mannamead house and garden, she was initially dismayed at the lack of job variety and the area’s low wages.
“Quality of life in this part of the world is often wrongly presented as some sort of justification for poor pay but that holds us all back,” she declared. “No-one should have to accept low wages because of quality of life.”
On a recent spur of the moment in a Yelverton delicatessen she asked if they were interested in selling speciality breads. “They were - so I came home and made some,” she said.
Using the double ovens in her new 40ft kitchen extension, she also bakes for the Endsleigh Garden Centre, near Ivybridge, and is hoping to expand into supplying local restaurants. Working part time, she currently produces around 100 additive-free wholemeal and white breads by hand each week – baking in the evening for delivery first thing the following morning.
The favourite proved to be sun dried tomato and home-grown basil, followed by olive and basil, roasted onion with home-grown sage, and roasted pepper with garlic - as well as sweet breads such as apricot and walnut.
Other specialities include bun “rings” featuring 19 little buns of bread with a choice of flavours from garlic butter to raisin and cinnamon and – especially for children’s parties – bread dinosaurs and dragons with coloured “scales.”
Jill contacted Business Link for start-up advice as there was a concern that the business might take off quickly and more equipment and staff might be needed. Specific advice on food labelling requirements was provided and she was connected with a start-up specialist – Enterprise Plymouth Ltd.
“The support has been fantastic,” she said. “I’ve been put in touch with all the relevant people and the future for the business looks bright.”