It’s time for another small business interview, and today I’m chatting to Caroline Walsh from Archipelago Bakery. The bakery is based on Edinburgh’s Dundas Street, and serves up some of the most delicious homemade organic artisan bread, cakes and pastry treats in the city.
I caught up with Caroline to find out what makes her tick, what she loves about running her own bakery, and the difficulties of being self-employed.
Why do you do what you do?
Well, I love what I do. I love baking bread and cakes and cooking.
I got fed up of eating disgusting bread whenever I went to cafes and restaurants, and saw that the terrible quality of bread sold in supermarkets (which is full of ingredients you can’t pronounce, full of preservatives and additives) was making people feel ill after eating it, which should not be the case if it is a properly made loaf of bread.
I also wanted to offer good quality vegetarian and veggie food as I was always disappointed when I ate out. I have a passion for cake making and, after working with a number of people, realised that not everyone can make cakes and so I saw a gap in the market.
I wanted to be able to sell bread that people talked about and came back for more. I wanted to use organic flour and not compromise on ingredients at any point.
What are you most proud of?
That I am still going 4.5 years later. So many businesses that started at the same time as me no longer exist either due to going bust or giving up.
What keeps you up at night?
Paperwork, recipes, ideas, washing clothes and hanging up clean washing, emails, customer requests via text message and all the other usual worries that a small business has to endure.
What was the best business decision you ever made?
Setting up my own business.
And the worst?
There haven’t been any ‘worst’ decisions. All things happen for a reason and the only things that made life difficult were things out of my control.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?
Do your own thing and don’t compromise. Or my own advice which is ‘just keep going’!
How do you attract new clients or customers?
Mainly by using social media and word of mouth.
What do you enjoy most about your marketing?
I don’t do any marketing as such! I am the marketing so I guess that’s what I enjoy – chatting to my customers, telling them about my products, producing new breads and cakes. Offering them new things to keep them enticed like all my low-sugar jams and chutneys and my ice creams. I love my customers and wouldn’t still be here without them.
How do you relax?
I don’t. I am always working. Even when I am not in the bakery I am still working – making jam, making ice cream, shopping, doing the paperwork. Sadly, everything I do is work-related.
What is your favourite brand?
I don’t really have a favourite brand.
What’s something you dream of doing?
I am doing it! But apart from that I would love to do some more travelling and have a bit more time for activities such as gardening and calligraphy. I would love to do more calligraphy on a professional basis.
Just keep on doing what I am doing and then eventually open and run a bread school so I can pass on the knowledge I have gained over the years.