Although Lisa doesn’t come from a family of bakers by trade, she had a baking influence in the form of her grandmother when she was a young girl. ‘My grandma baked pretty much every day, but just for the family,’ Lisa says. ‘My mum never did though and I think that’s where my hunger for baking started – my mum doesn’t have a sweet tooth so cake was a real treat whenever I went to my grandma’s.’
But Lisa’s mum did bake with her daughter on her birthdays, when they would indulge in her sumptuous red wine cake. ‘The first thing I ever baked on my own was that red wine cake – I was going to a party and I thought I’d do something a bit boozy. We’ve made it with Bloom Bakers too, and people enjoy it – they’re intrigued by the idea of chocolate cake with red wine in it,’ she says.
Lisa continues the tradition of baking with her daughter, although most of the time she just wants to ‘help’ by licking the bowl – and we can’t say we blame her. Some of Bloom Bakers’ most popular products include their classic jam sandwich biscuits (a recipe passed down to Lisa from her grandmother) and Saskia’s Dutch apple pie – which Lisa admits is her favourite.
But how did two friends make the jump from at-home bakers to baking for a living? ‘Saskia and I worked in the same office but not in the same team,’ explains Lisa. ‘One day we were both in the kitchen and we somehow got talking about sourdough starters – Saskia got so excited that someone else shared that passion for weird baking stuff!
‘We became friends after that and started baking for fun – just for friends and family. This was just over three years ago, Saskia’s second boy was just one and I had just had a baby, but one day she emailed me and said “Lisa, let’s just do this because the time will never be right, and if we don’t do it now we’ll never do it.” I knew she was right.’
Although it was an exceptionally busy time for them both with young children to look after, they began selling their products at farmers’ markets and, with both of their backgrounds in digital marketing, the business began to take off quite quickly online.
Their delicious bakes are very popular among corporate clients now, who make up the bulk of Lisa and Saskia’s orders. ‘But we still love doing the farmers’ markets and events,’ says Lisa. ‘They’re a place where we can actually speak to people and get feedback on our products, and not just be lonely in our kitchens!’
And it turns out that combining a young family and a business was an ideal move for the two bakers. ‘We both say that if we didn’t have children we probably wouldn’t have done it,’ she says. ‘It made us appreciate our time even more and realise we wanted a job that we love and could have while raising children.’
Outside of baking, Lisa has a real passion for travel and languages – but she finds ways to incorporate this into her job. ‘Whenever we go abroad now all we do is hang out around bakeries, taking photos, researching, and trying to replicate the bakes. Food and travel is such a massive thing for me and food helps the memory of your trip live on.’
Obviously Bloom Bakers’ products are inspired by their travel as well their backgrounds. ‘I’m from Germany and Saskia is from the Netherlands, so we’ve always had this Germanic influence over our bakes,’ explains Lisa. ‘But we don’t just limit ourselves to Germany and the Netherlands because then we’d miss out on Danish pastries and Austrian bakes, so we say Northern European-inspired to be more broad.’
But there’s more to a baking business than just baking. ‘Researching and sampling are some of my favourite parts of the job, but also the variety,’ says Lisa. ‘When we set up Bloom Bakers we thought we’d just be baking and selling, but there’s so much more to it than that. We’re really part of the Leeds food scene now – we do workshops, food photography, networking events – we didn’t realise how versatile the job would be and how creative we could get. There are no limits really, we’re forever expanding our product range as a result of us just messing around in the kitchen.’
As their business expands, Lisa and Saskia might have to think about recruiting some other staff, as currently it’s just the two of them holding down the fort. ‘It’s something we’re really excited about but also quite nervous,’ admits Lisa. ‘Bloom Bakers is like our child really, and we feel very passionate and protective over it. I’m sure there are people out there who share that same passion, but it is still going to be a challenge.’
But however big the business becomes, it seems likely that Bloom Bakers will be sticking around in Leeds. ‘What I love about Leeds is how multicultural it is,’ says Lisa. ‘When I came here I never felt like a foreigner as such – I think a lot of people here have their roots in different countries. I’m glad my children will be able to grow up in such a multicultural environment.’
Be sure to check out Bloom Bakers website for more information on their delicious products at www.bloombakers.co.uk