Are your New Year’s resolutions quickly becoming a thing of the past? Then imagine a bakery that offers such tasty treats as focaccia bread, almond butter granola bars, and root beer coconut floats. Origin Gluten-Free Bakery is an off-the-bandwagon dieter’s dream come true. The only difference is this bakery’s delectable fare is entirely gluten-free.
Marion Neuhauser and Tara Black are not your usual business school graduates. In fact, neither of them graduated from a business school. Black is a cook and Neuhauser, among other jobs, was a WestJet flight attendant. Perhaps this is what has allowed them to break the rules in developing Origin, located in Stadacona Centre.
“We have been friends since high school and a couple of years ago we got talking about starting our own business and a bakery seemed like a pretty good idea. So we headed off to Maui, camped out for two weeks, wrote a business plan, came home, and away we went,” Black says with a laugh.
They planned to run the bakery by themselves for the first six months, but by the second month had to hire staff to handle the growing demand.
“Our products are for everyone but particularly those with celiac disease. As it turns out, five of our nine employees have celiac or their partners do,” says Black. Her partner notes that “while our customers are very aware and knowledgeable about their health, they really appreciate our staff being well-informed about our products.”
They use 16 flours made from non-wheat grains in their bakery products. “Finding local suppliers of gluten-free products is an issue for us,” Black says. Origin sources ingredients from a U.S. supplier, and while their goal is to be fully local and organic, it’s just not achievable at present. Both women see their business as an alternative within a niche market and they want to make the bakery both affordable and accountable.
Before opening the doors, they spent four months testing gluten-free baking recipes. “We had three tests our goods had to pass: taste, texture, and nutrition,” Neuhauser says. So far it has worked. The response has been “delightfully overwhelming,” says Black. Bakery sales have far exceeded initial plan projections, and the partners are writing a new plan projection, but not in Maui — they’re too busy.
Check out the rest of the winners from the 2011 10 to Watch:
Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre | Body Dynamics Headquarters | Cook Culture | Draught WISE Draught Integrity Technicians | Evidents Mobile Dent Repair | Lizard Adventure Travel | Onlyhuman Furniture | Pizzeria Prima Strada | Sterling Financial Accounting Services