How did you get to where you are today?
Honeybuns has been my only 'proper grown up' job. I studied in London and Oxford but have always enjoyed baking. I baked in my student digs and even had regular customers in Oxford as well as a holiday job working in a patisserie. While in Oxford I also started a project to set up a coffee shop for Blackwell Publishing. Then, ten to 11 years ago, I set up Honeybuns.
Tell us a bit about Honeybuns
Honeybuns makes cakes, flapjacks, and shortbread, and a number of gluten-free and wheat-free cakes, and is based in Sherborne, Dorset. When Honeybuns was set up the idea of selling gluten and wheat-free cakes was pretty wacky. I'd inherited a clutch of recipes from my Gran and Mum, both of whom had travelled extensively in the south of France and Italy. The recipes were very heavy on non-wheat flour and customers were saying how great the cakes were because of this. I focused on that niche while also making sure that we did not put ourselves in a box. We always flag the importance of local sourcing, low food miles and premium ingredients that are utterly traceable. We are currently listed in Dorset branches of Waitrose, nationwide in John Lewis Partnership coffee shops, First Great Western and GNER train services, Fresh & Wild and a number of independents and music festivals. We are also currently waiting to get the go-ahead from Waitrose for nationwide coverage on its patisserie counters.
What's it like working with Waitrose?
We have been working with Waitrose for four years as part of its locally produced small producer scheme, where it works with local producers to give them listings in local stores in a designated radius. They are different from our normal customers and you have to listen carefully to what they want you to do. We have made our packaging smaller for them and changed our barcoding.
What are you currently working on?
A summer baking course, which has been booked up very quickly. We have also just built a product development kitchen and are working on new products. In 2007 we are planning to launch a gluten-free line. It's topped with a super-food gratin, but I can't say more than that! I'm also working on our annual thankyou party for customers and friends called the Bee Hop. It's in its fourth year and has grown from a party into a mini music festival.