I started The Free From Baker in March 2019. I run the business from my home kitchen, just outside Leeds city centre in Armley. Everything I bake is gluten-free. I was diagnosed coeliac 20 years ago when I was 7. It wasn’t the easiest growing up coeliac, 18 years ago there was no such thing as the free from aisle in supermarkets. However, I told myself that I would never let being coeliac stop me doing what I wanted to do, and it has ended up bringing me to this moment, running my own business. My passion for baking started when I was growing up, baking at home with my Granny and Mum (who is also coeliac). Something I now do with my niece and nephews.
Since the age of 14, I have worked on and off in hospitality whilst studying at school and later the University of York. In fact, most of my jobs have been in hospitality working my way up from potwasher to chef at my local village pub, pulling pints and waiting on. After this I went and spent 6 months working as a chef in a seafood restaurant in Sydney, during my year out backpacking around Australia.
My biggest influence, was working at the Artisan Gluten Free Bakery and Café in Newark On Trent, spending 2 years there as baker and then going on to be manager. I learnt so much and it gave me an opportunity to improve my baking skills and experiment with new recipes, as well as how to run a business.
In October 2018, I went on The Great British Bake Off Extra Slice, Episode 8, Danish week. I had the most incredible day of filming in London, meeting Jo Brand and Tom Allen. I made a Danish Kransekake, a 10 ring ground almond based biscuit tower, entirely gluten-free. Each ring was decorated so that it represented a week of the competition. To top off an already great day, I won STAR BAKER!
In March 2019, I moved back to York and launched The Free From Baker. I’d been wanting to run my own business for a while, making all of my favourite gluten-free treats - and getting to be the boss. I started the business alongside working at Tesco, juggling both was a challenge. I initially started off selling on The Shambles market once a month, as well as making cupcakes and celebration cakes
Throughout Summer 2019 I competed in the Youth Market Trader of the Year competition, coming 2nd in the Yorkshire heat, held on Yorkshire Day in York. I made it through to the two day national final in Stratford upon Avon. I didn’t win any prizes, but It was a fantastic experience and I made a brief appearance on the BBC One Show.
In December 2019, I was invited to take part in the gingerbread house episode of Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. I won the episode with my gluten-free gingerbread model of York Minster. My appearance on the show gave me a massive boost in getting my name out, I was featured in several newspapers and the radio.
By March 2020, I had my summer diary filled and was preparing to leave Tesco when Coronavirus came along, and the country went into lockdown. I temporarily closed the business and took on more hours at Tesco. In May, I reopened the business and launched the postal service, starting with Easter boxes. They were a huge hit, over the following 3 months the postal service grew and grew.
In August, I handed my notice in and made The Free From Baker my full time job. It was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made. Looking back now, nearly 6 months later, I don’t know why I was so worried. In August I also moved from York to Leeds, into a house with a much bigger kitchen, making life a lot easier. I’ve continued to expand the postal service and in between national lockdowns, bake a few cakes.
Now onto 2021, I’m not quite sure what the future holds. I’m excited to continue to grow the business, to make new exciting treats and lots more cakes. A huge thank you to everyone that has helped and supported the business over the last two years. Making the business my full time job was one of the best things I’ve ever done!
Feel free to get in touch, I would love to hear from you.