Wednesday, 14 March 2012

'Works For Me' - with Hollyblue Bakery Founder

'Works for Me' is a series of interviews with people who are managing to make money out of the things they love doing.

Graphic Design by Debs Ford
Used with Permission

I met Jamie Wade, owner of Hollyblue Bakery, at a party on New Year's Eve and was instantly interested in her business. I invited her out for a coffee and plied her with questions, wanting to access the mind of that most fascinating of species: the entrepeneur.

Not that she would necessarily characterise herself in that way. During our chat Jamie sketched out the evolution of her online bakery with a blend of self-depreciating confidence. She comes across as someone who is enjoying putting her passions to good use, but at the same time is aware of the fact that her business venture is taking her out on a limb.

Paul O'Connor - Used with Permission

"Overall people have been really encouraging," she says. "I didn't tell many people at first - there's always the fear that people will turn around and say 'who do you think you are?'. And it's more personal when it's your own business - you're sometimes wary of sharing what you do, because if people reject the idea it can feel like they're rejecting you." Thankfully, the combination of a good idea, the right skills-set and her obvious enthusiasm has meant negative reactions are few and far between. 

Paul O'Connor - Used with Permission

Hollyblue Bakery has its beginnings in the sponges Jamie used to send her Mum in the post. Despite being protectively packaged in decorative tins, they would often be "mushed" on arrival. "My housemate was sent a box of brownies from his girlfriend and I realised they were perfect for posting." Her subsequent research revealed a handful of UK companies offering brownie deliveries, often as part of the business model of an organic or farm shop. "I just felt that sense of 'I can do that'." And so she did.

Paul O'Connor - Used with Permission
Tapping into the revival in favour of unique presents and all things handmade, Hollyblue Bakery provides a gift-giving service. Jamie's brownies are ordered and sold online through Etsy, arriving beautifully boxed and wrapped in tissue paper. Having teamed up with friend and graphic designer Debs Ford, she is overcoming her discomfort regarding self-promotion and slowly learning to handout her butterfly-adorned business cards. "Hollyblue is a type of butterfly. I looked up wildflower names at first, but the ones I liked were taken. But actually butterflies are more fitting for me - I've always liked them."

It's that sense of following her likes and interests that is most encouraging to witness, and the experience of it is exhilarating for Jamie: "It keeps me sane. I have a 9 to 5 job that I'm not particularly passionate about, so it's great to also be doing something I love and to do it with a purpose." 

Paul O'Connor - Used with Permission
Fitting in baking around work takes organisation, with orders being checked in the morning, batter mixed in her lunch break and baking and and boxing taking place in the evening ready for posting the next morning. "Because these are gift boxes, they're often for specific dates. Christmas was intense!" 

Paul O'Connor - Used with Permission
There are also those ancillary issues to get used to: tax returns, food hygiene inspections, accounting. "In a previous job as a pub manager I was involved in some of those things to a certain extent so I think back to that, as well as learning as I go."

And the future? "My current full-time job is coming to an end in April, so I have a few options. I don't like doing things by halves so it would be great to devote more time to this. But you've got to be sensible about these kinds of things... In the longer term I'd love to run a larger scale coffee house, so it's all good practice."

With her mix of sensible optimism, vision and proactivity, whatever unfolds for Jamie after April is bound to be both exciting and inspiring. 

To order brownies from Hollyblue Bakery's Etsy store click here
Follow the bakery's progress at:

Photography by Paul O'Connor 

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