18 Aug Motherhood and an Unplanned Bakery
We chat to Aussie mum and vegan baker Erin, about starting her own baking business and how she juggles all the baking with…all the parenting.
Tell us about Unplanned Bakery – what led you to start your own business?
Unplanned Bakery is the result of my frustrations as a food-loving vegan. I love the ritual of going to a café in the morning and grabbing a coffee and maybe something sweet. However, the options for vegans are slim and often relegated to the raw, fringes of the menus. So I wanted to create delicious, eye-catching baked goods that rival their non-vegan counterparts in the café cabinet.
I’ve always been a creative person, and I had several ideas of what my future might look like once I went back to work after my second child Myles was born. Ideally it would allow me time to look after my two boys, as well as fulfill my need to create and build something I could be proud of.
How do you get all the baking done with your little ones around?
It’s a juggling act between my partner Seb, my parents and I in the lead up to market days. We don’t have any regular childcare for Myles so he usually ‘assists’ me with the market shopping in the lead up. We hope to dedicate more child-free time to the business this year.
Seb works very long hours in his regular job so it’s very busy. Now that we have proven (to ourselves) that there is a viable business in Unplanned Bakery, we are moving toward daycare for Myles (Oli is in year two at school) and bigger and better equipment to streamline our production.
It is absolutely a family business. I could not do any of it without the support and help of my family.
Do you include your children/family in your work, or do you compartmentalise?
There is often a crossover, mainly because food is everything in our home, so I’m often testing a recipe or getting the boys to help me make a juice etc. I need time to bake and answer emails on my own, but anything else that I can do with them, I do. I try not to worry too much about the elusive ‘balance’ word. We can sense when we need time out, but in reality, we are a very small, young business that has big dreams and if one is going to reach the other, then there is going to be hard slog and compromise for a while and that’s OK.
People often say that parenthood changed them. Do you feel that’s true for you?
Maybe ‘shaped’ is a better way to describe it? I was pregnant at 21 and didn’t really know who or what I was at that stage, so it’s fair to say that almost all of my adult life has been me in the ‘mother’ role. I was definitely put on a different path as a result though.
Is being a mum easier/harder/very different than what you thought it would be?
This is a tricky question. I guess everyone always says that it’s the hardest and most rewarding thing you could do and that statement rings true for me as well.
Motherhood is a constant challenge, not because the boys are ‘naughty’ or badly behaved, but more to do with the expectations you set for yourself.
I think if you care deeply for someone or something, you only want the best for them and where children are concerned, that’s a lot to think about and is sometimes unachievable.
Having the freedom to be creative makes me a better parent as it feeds my soul and lifts me up. I like the expression ‘You can’t give from an empty cup’.
Time to myself, meal preparation and winks from Seb help me to parent well too!
How do you balance your business with family time?
Most of what I do is done after the boys have gone to bed, as I need to concentrate. I try to be present as much as I can with the boys and we go to the pool each week and the park almost daily. It does get blurred and that’s OK as well, I think. I like the boys to see that I’m working towards a goal and Oli especially appreciates that I have started something special and care very much about it.
I think it’s important to show children hard work and the rewards that come from it.
Do your children inspire your business?
More than they will ever know. I think it taps back into wanting things to be the best they can be for those you love. Oli and Myles are such beautiful and amazing little people they give so much to me that I want to give whatever I can back.
I want to teach them to reach high and stay true but that failure is OK as well and that it’s necessary in life sometimes. I want them to see that by sticking to your principles and by being authentic, great opportunities will present themselves.
They also adore food, so on a selfish level they inspire me to try new things because I enjoy the gratification of an empty plate.
What do you want to share with other mums who may be trying to combine their lives as business owners and caretakers?
A couple of things I have learnt through the process so far is to focus on your own work, ‘stay in your own lane and you’re sure to win’ or something like that. This reminds me not to look at Instagram and wonder why my cakes don’t look like hers/his/theirs all the time.
Another is not to be too hard on yourself. Your kids are still alive and you’re trying something a little risky – Kudos! Wine also helps!
What drives you in your creative endeavours, and inspires your creativity?
Sometimes I’m so full of inspiration and motivation I feel it physically, like I could burst. I draw inspiration from strong women that are kicking arse in their field and getting shit done.
I am consistently inspired by contemporary Aboriginal art, cook books, a well stocked cake display, a clean kitchen and oh! Magazines are hugely inspiring! I love the printed medium and often smell the pages of a fresh magazine like a crazy woman. It’s my crack! [Us too Erin, us too].
I am driven by a need to create things, whether that’s the perfect cinnamon scroll or a well-written paragraph. With my food, I am driven by the need for choice and compassionate cooking.
Creating a colourful, nourishing meal for my family is the most direct way that I can positively affect their health and happiness.
What are some of the yummy vegan goodies on the menu?
We sell a large range of 100% vegan baked sweets and treats. This includes cinnamon scrolls, double layered chocolate cakes (our digi content creator, Jenna is OBSESSED with these!), apple pies and sweet loaves, as well as cookies, bliss balls and some savoury delights such as ‘sausage’ rolls, lentil pies and pesto scrolls…among other things.
Where can we try your yummy food?
We began selling at the local markets to test the waters and have been overwhelmed by the positive response. We are now stocked in some local cafes in the Blue Mountains, regularly do birthday cakes and have a stall at Blackheath Growers Markets, on the second Sunday of the month. We have big plans for the future.
What do you love most about the local Blue Mountains community?
I adore the shared pride in where we live and appreciation for the stunning environment and land we are lucky enough to live on. I am passionate, as many others here are, about small, local business and supporting local artists, growers and makers. I love that I often smile at Jenny Kee in my local café as well, that’s a day maker right there!
Erin, 29, is a Vegan baker and owner of Unplanned Bakery. She lives in the Blue Mountains, NSW with her partner Seb and two children; Oliver, 7 and Myles, 2. You can find out more about Erin’s yummy goodies via the Unplanned Bakery website and Instagram.