Welcome back! This week’s blog post is going to focus on the other half of Cake and Loaf, Josie Rudderham. Finding time in her busy schedule to sit down for an interview, we find out a few things about this intrepid entrepreneur, including the challenges of motherhood and a love of gardening. Enjoy the interview, and if you have any suggestions for future blog posts, feel free to leave a comment or email us- we’d love to hear from you!
What's your role within Cake and Loaf?
I focus more on the savoury baked goods and bread baking. I’ve also taken on the role of Cake and Loaf’s social media mouthpiece.
How would you describe your partnership with Nickey?
We share really complimentary skill sets. Nickey is artistic, has quite developed skills with sugar work and her strengths lie in the realm of refined patisserie. I trained as a chef, and therefore tend to strive for flavour first which, in turn, has helped Nickey. We share similar personalities, and both abide by similar philosophies of going with the flow and taking things one step at a time. I feel that I’m more of a long term planner, whereas Nickey can focus well on short term organization and planning, due to her experience as a bakery manager. Our friendship really flowered after the decision was made to run a business together, which has been a wonderful benefit. With honest, clear goals in mind, we are working really well together towards something we both really want.
What's the best part about opening your own bakery?
I think the idea of contributing a landmark to the community is probably the best part of opening our business. I love the idea of being that neighbourhood bakery. I grew up with one, and I think it's a solid cornerstone of a good community. I also love the idea of building a family business at some point; hopefully one day our children will take the reins and continue on with our vision.
What prompted your gluten-free and local ingredient decisions?
Gluten-free was decided primarily because of my sister and a friend, both of whom had gone gluten-free and couldn't find good products. I'm flavour obsessed, so I saw it as a challenge to make gluten-free products with that in mind. I just couldn’t see why it would be difficult for us to make these products with the best flavours possible. As for local ingredients, it’s something I’ve always lived with, something that started with my family, and has always been a natural way of life for me. Therefore, I wanted to continue that through our business. The more we get into sourcing these ingredients and meeting the families producing them, the more passionate we get about it. We want to support these people because we like them.
How long have you been gardening for? Do you plan on incorporating home grown into the bakery?
I’ve been gardening my whole life; it’s a family thing. To be honest, though, it’s my husban, Luke, who has the real green thumb. I pick the produce and he grows it. We want to try as much as possible to incorporate our own gardening into our products. We have a large urban garden a few houses down from the bakery and we’re planning to incorporate a rooftop garden above the bakery itself.
What's been your biggest challenge so far?
I have to say that balancing family life with business can be really difficult. Making sure you're being fair for everyone is important. It's one thing to make time for your child, but another to make time for your husband, family, friends, etc. It's easy to work a hundred hours a week, so it's important to take a step back and draw the line somewhere.
Tell me about your daughter and the impact she's had on this business.
Lily is 18 months old and already showing a strong interest in gardening and baking, so I have hopes that she will be part of the bakery one day. Like any parent, you think twice about everything you put into your child's body and what they're surrounded by, so it's important for me to know she's eating healthy food and to know where her food is coming from. She helps reinforce the family-oriented aspect of our business. Once you have a child, you look at the world differently, and now I have a better understanding of consequences for my actions because I have to think for her and make sure my choices benefit her life.
What about Hamilton really appeals to you as business owner?
I just love Hamilton- the green spaces, the eclectic atmosphere, its multiculturalism, the burgeoning art scene. There’s a real renaissance happening in Hamilton, due in large part to a dramatic shift from manufacturing to education and health care. Because of that, we’re seeing a real shift towards more cultural activities, more art and more opportunity for a business like ours.
Are there any changes you'd like to see (or make) in your field?
There’s been a big shift towards convenience and frozen foods lately. Bakeries are purchasing pre-prepared dough and reducing labour for higher profit margins. This is something we’d like to see change in the industry and we want to move away from convenience ourselves by showing the public where their food is coming from and why it's important for their health and our economy. We'd also like to see the culinary field appreciated as a trade (including the skill sets involved).
Tell me about the fundraiser you've got coming up. What can people expect?
We’re really excited for this. It’s going to be a fundraiser to help cover the cost for opening the bakery. It’s going to take place on Saturday, March 19th at Fenian Films on Locke St. from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. It will be free admission during the day, and $10 for the evening concert. Daytime festivities will include a bake sale, acoustic live music, face painting, children’s activities and an amateur cake decorating competition. There will be lots of baked goods for sale and we’ll be having a raffle (with local businesses donating prizes). The evening will have more of a concert atmosphere, and will include local bands, alcohol and more food. It’s going to be a great party, 50% of our profits will be going towards a local cancer charity (the Juravinski Cancer Centre), and we encourage everyone to come down and check it out!
An easy final question: What's your favourite Cake and Loaf menu item?
Croissants, hands down. We make them with French style cultured butter, with a whole wheat starter (which gives it a touch of whole wheat flavour). Flaky, buttery and delicious; can't get much better.