Discover the inspiring story of an East London bakery that not only satisfies the tastebuds, but is transforming the lives of women from vulnerable backgrounds too...
Q When and why did you first set up Luminary Bakery?
Luminary Bakery was first set up as two needs were recognised in East London – one was the need for a wholesale bakery and the other was to provide employment opportunities for women from vulnerable backgrounds, providing training as well.
Q Where did the distinctive name come from?
The idea of the moon was to bring light into dark places and the definition of Luminary is a person who inspires. We want to encourage that and inspire women to reach their potential... reach for the moon!
Q What is the ultimate aim of the bakery?
Our vision is to see women provided with opportunities to leave their vulnerable situations and be released into a positive future.
Q Why a bakery?
We started a bakery because we could see, through research, it was a viable business idea, but we also found baking can be therapeutic and relaxing. It’s amazing to bake together with people and it can really build community.
Q What kind of a response have you had?
We have had an amazing response! So many people have had encouraging and kind words, offered their help, time and support! We wouldn’t have got to where we are so quickly if it wasn’t for our wonderful staff and volunteers.
Q How do you teach the bakery skills?
We run a 6 month training course, which teaches life skills, finances, business, etc, but the women spend time in the kitchen with our bakers each week, learning new skills. Each session will be focussed on a different aspect of baking and builds on their knowledge slowly. On the last session they get to design, create and bake their own recipe, which is then showcased (and of course eaten!) at their graduation ceremony.
Q Can you tell us about the bakery itself?
We are a small wholesale bakery, slowly growing. We bake a variety of things for different clients, including Lady Dinah’s Cat Cafe and TOMS Cafe. We also make some bespoke bakes for some of our clients, including cat shaped bread rolls – you can guess who they are for! The majority of our bakes are sweet, but we do also do savoury. Most days our bakers work shifts, including early mornings. We also make seasonal cakes which are ‘limited edition’ and appear for a short time only – for Halloween/bonfire night we did smoked toffee apple cakes, which were amazing and we are working on our Christmas special! We love to get creative and brainstorm together. We all work very hard, but also do have fun in the kitchen together – most days will feature a few dance moves and singing with a wooden spoon!
Q What happens when a student finishes the course?
Once they finish the course, they graduate and have an accredited qualification along with other certificates. We always have a wonderful graduation ceremony! Then they can apply for our apprenticeship places or we help and support them to find employment elsewhere – we have ever-expanding connections with other businesses. We stay in contact with all our graduates and keep the community going – we are having a lunch with everyone for Christmas soon.
Q How do people get involved?
We are always looking for new volunteers, people who are willing to donate their time and skills. They can contact us via our website.
Q The bakery makes wedding cakes too?
We occasionally cater for celebrations and events. Sometimes this is larger cakes and sometimes small canapes. The bakers love these when they come up, because it’s a chance to be even more creative and do some one-off bakes!
Q What’s next for you?
We are very excited to be moving into our new premises before Christmas. This will have a cafe and we will be able to have more women on the training course, complete more orders, bake on a larger scale, open a cafe, run classes for the public and so on! It’s a really exciting time of growth and development.
Find out more by visiting the website at www.luminarybakery.com