Occupation: Baker, Business Owner Black Walnut Baker
– I was born in Toronto. My mother was self employed for most of her life, and very much responsible for inspiring me to open my own business. My father is an artist by education, turned computer programmer. We moved to Ottawa/Beacon Hill area when I was 10 because of my father’s change in work.
– I went to Colonel By Secondary School for the IB program. Baked for every bake sale. My friends joked that I’d graduate and become a baker.
– I excelled in art and sciences. I loved horse back riding, and had interests in becoming a pilot. I took flying lessons briefly, but realized I wasn’t fond of physics.
– Graduated in 2005 and intended to pursue sciences. Had aspirations to be either an equine veterinarian or a family practitioner.
– My family moved to a farm in the south end of Ottawa. I bought my first horse and started training horses as a job.
– Completed my bachelors degree in Biology, major in animal physiology, at the University of Ottawa in 2009.
– Applied twice to medical school, but was not accepted.
– Throughout university, I developed interests in architecture, beekeeping and baking more seriously.
– Before continuing with a masters of some sort, I took a year off to pursue some personal interests, like baking, pottery, music, and Inuktitut lessons.
– Though I really didn’t want to go back to school, I felt pressure from everyone else continuing with masters programs.
– I applied for an architecture degree at Waterloo University. Was not accepted, but placed 2nd on the wait list with high hopes.
– I considered being a midwife, but was not keen on the overnight work schedule. Ironic now.
– As an alternative, I also applied and was accepted to a masters program at the University of Winnipeg in apiculture.
– Shortly before I was to move, I met my husband while taking pottery classes, used him as an excuse to stay and decided to pursue my true passion of bread baking.
– Unfortunately, there’s no baking program in Canada specifically designed for bread. I took a 1 week professional bread class in Vermont. I tried to take an apprenticeship there, but was not allowed a work visa because I didn’t have formal training or professional experience.
– I applied for my first real job at a bakery in Ottawa that specialized in bread, in hopes of gaining enough experience to apply again for a US work visa to apprentice at King Arthur Flour.
– I loved my baking job so much that I stayed for 4 years. Meanwhile, I married and moved to Cumberland. With much encouragement from my husband, we started our own weekend baking business at the Cumberland Farmers Market.
– In 2015, with much support from our families, we decided to take the leap and quit our jobs to grow our bakery business.
– Now we live and work in our home in Cumberland and have two young children.
– Baking and running a business are two very different feats. Being your own boss is great, being an employer to others is not so easy, it carries a lot of responsibility. Although I wish I had taken some sort of business management or financial classes in university, we are learning much along the way. Thank goodness for our bookkeeper and accountant.
– Our day does not end at closing. We think about the efficiency of our business all the time. We start baking at 3am, and thankfully are fortunate enough to have a team of employees to help us close the shop, so we are not working 16 hour days anymore. Life is extremely busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.