Meet the baker!
Meet Laura, the talented Homemade Brownie Company owner and baker. Laura founded the company in 2016 after deciding she wanted to turn her hobby into a business. She loves baking all sorts of sweet treats but it was her delicious, gluten-free brownies that always got the highest praise...
When did you first start baking?
I always enjoyed baking with my mum as a child, so when I had my own two boys I started baking for them. At first I got them involved too, but I soon decided the destruction just wasn't worth it! I’d regularly bake cakes, brownies and biscuits for them and everything I made always went down pretty well!
When did you realise brownies were your forte?
I always baked and decorated the boys’ birthday cakes and later, celebration cakes for family and friends. By word of mouth, I started getting orders from others, but my perfectionist nature meant I was spending too much time on each cake. That’s when I started to think about basing my business on brownies instead – trying to perfect a select range of products I was passionate about, rather than trying to achieve the impossible of perfecting a different cake every day!
Everyone who tasted my brownies seemed to love them and people were always surprised to discover they were gluten-free. Often, gluten-free baked goods aren’t as nice or have a different texture, but no one can tell that mine are gluten-free, which is a huge compliment!
After having my second son, I became gluten intolerant myself, so I had always focused on gluten-free products. Being able to cater for those with gluten intolerance got me thinking about other food groups and that was when I decided to come up with the perfect vegan brownie recipe too.
What made you take the leap into setting up your own business?
After I had my children I wanted to work part time so that I could do the school run every morning and afternoon. I got a job working in a pub kitchen, which I really enjoyed, but I wanted more variety day-to-day. As outside interest in my baking grew, I started to wonder if it might be something I could turn into a business, whilst still working flexibly. So I decided to take the leap! In the early days I worked school hours and it was just me doing all the baking, packaging and taking the boxes to the Post Office every day.
Last year when lockdown was announced, demand increased (as it did for many online businesses) and we had to make some changes to keep up! My husband Adam worked away a lot, but he decided to take the plunge and joined me to manage the business full time.
We’re a great team; I do all the baking and Adam takes care of everything else - from enquiries and orders, to managing the website and doing the accounts. We’ve recently taken on two part-time members of staff; a second baker to help me in the kitchen and a lady who takes care of packaging all the brownies up each day.
What are the most rewarding and challenging parts?
I love getting positive feedback from customers and hearing how much they enjoyed my brownies, or how much their loved one enjoyed receiving them. I’ve had many lovely messages over the years and it makes all the hard work worthwhile. It’s also very rewarding to see the business grow and I’m excited to see where the coming months and years will take us.
The most challenging part is that you never know from one day to the next how busy you’re going to be so it’s hard to plan. Orders can come in last-minute and things can change in an instant - a crystal ball would be nice!
You’re making the move from home to professional kitchen - how are you feeling about the change?
Very excited and a teeny bit nervous - it’s a very big step! It was definitely time though, as over the past year the business has taken over our house! It’ll be nice to get our home space back and also to be able to ‘come home’ from work each day. The unit is sizable so it will be great to have the additional space to enable us to spread out and take the next step in growing the business. There’s a huge custom-designed kitchen space for me and my staff, plenty of storage space for ingredients and a dedicated office for Adam, so I’m sure it’ll be smiles all round on moving day and beyond!
What are your plans for the future of the Homemade Brownie Company?
Once we’ve settled into the new premises we have lots of ideas in the pipeline for increasing our capacity and creating new products. We’d love to take on more staff and grow the business further. We’re also hoping to be signed off by Coeliac UK this year, which is quite an accolade so we’re very excited about that. Watch this space!