Wildcraft Bakery – the next phase?
3 years ago, I started a journey that was unexpected and transformative. I decided to move my cake business out of my dining room and open a gluten free bakery on a little industrial estate in Leeds. I did absolutely everything ‘wrong’. I had no money, no business plan and no experience of running a bakery. What I did have though was a vision of something bigger than myself and the drive and determination to make it happen.
Together with Sam, we grew the business as far as we could without a high street presence. Despite being open as long as we have, we still get people come visit us every week who have only just found out about us. Part of the problem is that unless you know we exist and come looking for us, you’d probably drive past our estate every day without even realising we’re there.
So we decided to start looking for a new home. In March 2018, we came across a unit in Meanwood that would be perfect for our needs. We applied for the tenancy but lost out to a larger company with much deeper pockets than ours. 5 months later, the deal had fallen apart and the estate agents asked us if we were still interested and we said ‘Yes’. Despite knowing that, financially at least, we weren’t ready to run 2 premises, we knew we had to take that leap of faith. Unlike 3 years ago when the stakes were much lower, we now have significantly more to lose.
We decided that, to raise the money we needed, we would launch a Kickstarter campaign and ask our fans and customers to support us. We knew that we needed at least £37,000 to get the project off the ground so that is what we asked for. Too late, we realised that there was no way we would be able to raise that much money, but there was nothing we could do. We lost heart and instead of continuing to promote the kickstarter and encouraging people to back us, we stopped talking about it altogether. Because Kickstarter is “all or nothing”, every penny we raised was another penny we wouldn’t get to keep. Failure is something nobody enjoys, and we were embarassed that we’d put ourselves out there and fallen flat on our faces.
But failure is also key to business success. For it is in how we deal with failure that we grow and evolve as a business and as people. So we licked our wounds and did what we do best: picked ourselves up, tried to learn from our experience and figure out our next steps.
Our first challenge was going to be financing. Now that the Kickstarter had failed, we would need to find a new source of funding. So we sold shares in our bakery to someone who believes in our dream as much as we do, and gained a new business partner. He’s a private person and very much wants to remain a silent partner, but what he brings to the table is a wealth of knowledge of how to run a successful business and the willingness to muck in with the rest of us and we feel very lucky to have him in our corner.
The next challenge was budgets. While the money raised by selling shares is enough to get the project off the ground, it leaves us with very little working capital and it forced us to reconsider our plans and scale them back. Instead of jumping in feet first with a restaurant/cafe and all the works, we’ll be starting small.
Initially, it will be a bigger version of what we already have at the bakery shop every Saturday, but in a much nicer location, with somewhere to sit and hot drinks available and with the full array of bakery products available every day instead of just on Saturdays. We will keep doing that until we’ve ironed out all the kinks and built up our savings again, then we will start increasing our range, opening times, and kitchen space. It will take longer to reach our dream of having a teaching space, bakery shop and cafe, but we’ve never been afraid of hard work. We have the patience and determination to go the distance. We hope you will continue to walk alongside us.