Baking to success
Joanna Brennan, co-founder of Pump Street Bakery, discusses how she turned her love for both baking and chocolate into a thriving business.
What is the background to the brand?
We are a small, independent family run bakery and chocolate maker. We opened the doors to our bakery in Suffolk, UK, in November 2010.
We have always specialised in sourdough bread and viennoiserie made with the best ingredients, and now that we make our own chocolate from bean-to-bar, we place the same attention to detail in the sourcing and processing of chocolate.
What type of outlets do you sell through and do you plan to expand this?
We sell our bread and pastries in our own shop in Orford, Suffolk, and in a few other local delis and food stores that are within our daily delivery reach. This is because we only wholesale our bread and pastries for sale at their very best, on the day they are baked, just as we sell them at our store.
Our chocolate is available in our shop and our bread throughout Suffolk. We have a wide range of stockists across the UK, Europe, America and Asia. We are continually looking for more like-minded retailers to sell our chocolate to in the UK and abroad.
Who is your target consumer?
Our target customer is anyone who would enjoy eating fresh sourdough bread, pastries and/or craft chocolate. They may have their first foray into bean-to-bar chocolate with one of our bars, or they might be a connoisseur searching out Grenadian single estate dark chocolate for instance.
What are your best sellers and have these changed over the years?
We have seen a great uptake in our bakery series bars. This chocolate series came about as it seemed like the perfect marriage of our two passions, and greater than the sum of its parts.
Our Sourdough and Sea Salt chocolate is crisp and flavourful, just like crusty bread.
How do you promote and market your products?
We try to avoid hard selling. We let the quality of our baking and chocolate speak for itself by word of mouth, and particularly through digital versions such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
These are tools we try to use to engage with existing customers and some potential new ones.
How has the industry changed since you’ve been working in it?
We operate very much within the small sub-section of the industry which is the craft chocolate market. As such we don’t always keep abreast of the wider industry, but we have seen a surge in limited editions and new iterations of old favourites.
Within the last few years, there has been a few new players within craft chocolate in the UK – this is very exciting for us because the more of us there are, the better the interest will be.
Are there any challenges and opportunities you’re seeing at the moment?
As a small business, resources are always our limiting factor. We feel that we have a great range of products, but we are beginning to feel it could be better represented by a wider range of fine food stores across the UK and abroad.
What are your plans for the future and how do you see the company progressing?
We would like to continue baking and making chocolate, and doing so with the best ingredients. For the future of chocolate this means sourcing beans going forward is going to be a key part of keeping our chocolate fresh and interesting.
What is a typical day for you?
My job involves overall management of the bakery and chocolate, as well as marketing and communications. Although I do still cover shifts in the bakery and café from time to time, I am usually in the office.
A typical day for me might involve a check in at the bakery at around 7:30am to make sure that everything has been baked and tastes good. I often get myself a smoothie and a coffee to start the day.
A few meetings with members of the chocolate and pastry teams will take up most of my morning, in between speaking with our accountant and replying to emails. Lunch usually involves a sandwich from the bakery and some social media time.
In the afternoon, I will spend time planning packaging for new projects, and taking photographs for new releases. There is often a chance for us to sit down together as a team to taste new bars we are working on or bars people have acquired on their travels.
Tasting new bars and origins is my favourite part of the job because creating delicious chocolate is what it is all about in the end.