Remember when Jamie Oliver made his humble offerings to society by offering apprenticeships to underprivileged young people, and built a chain of restaurants on the side to fund it all? This June, just another plain Jane will open her entrepreneurial doors to the public – with the same view in mind…
A new social enterprise bakery, the first of its kind in Central Worthing, West Sussex, is set to open this June. Its owner is hoping it will stick out like a sore – and popular – thumb amongst the maturing conglomerate of commercial standard businesses in the area.
The premises currently looks like a grenade exploded yesterday and the authorities have cleaned up the safety hazards, leaving only the rubble behind. The owner plans to build an open plan breakfast bar against the front window and add a fully working professional kitchen fitted with a ring of stainless steel worktops at the back of the shop.
“I’ve applied for lots and lots of grants and been turned down lots and lots of times.”
Founder of Baked Lauren Roffey, 29, from Worthing, received mentoring and some finance from national and local support networks across England, namely her local Chamber of Commerce, the Community Development Foundation and UnLtd. The latter also awarded her a Spark Award that she is using to set up a peer-to-peer social enterprise support network in Worthing.
Its been a rocky road, though, as funding bodies have often rejected her: “I’ve applied for lots and lots of grants and been turned down lots and lots of times, but you can’t let it get to you, you have to keep on going, for every 19 rejections they’ll be one acceptance,” says entrepreneur Roffey.
Doctor of Research Turned Baker
Prior to Baked, self–taught pastry chef Lauren was a Doctoral Researcher in Environmental Social Science at the University of East Anglia, where she looked into how powerful businesses are able to control the policymaking process to serve their own ends.
She confesses to procrastinating during her days as a researcher by playing around with different recipes, meaning most of the culinary training that she will be passing on will be from what she has picked up in the kitchen over the years.
Baked will be an alternative to post-16 education for young people, where hands on experience will be the core provider of key learning skills – the polar opposite to the academic route.
“The majority of things I have learned could have easily been taught through a programme like Baked,” says culinary degree student and blogger Rochelle Hutchinson, 20, from East London.
“Going to university is expensive, currently the things that we are learning can be taught in the kitchen where you can also gain experience, and isn’t worth going into debt for.
“If I knew about the course content [degree], I wouldn’t have signed up and would much rather get experience or teach myself,” Hutchinson is studying for a degree at Westminister University; hoping to work in an establishment similar to Baked after she graduates.
Baked, soon to be on Rowlands Road, will run a training scheme for young people aged between 16-24, the group suffering with the highest rates of unemployment in the UK, which is currently standing on a steep 25%.
The £23,000 enterprise will also act as a community hub aimed at young people. Roffey will run regular sets of CV and employment clubs, and provide planned and ‘fun’ work experience placements for 15 year olds as well as apprenticeships, all by the end of year one in business.
“By being a social enterprise and registering as a community interested company, I’m committed to that model of doing business. Its means you’re driven by your social mission, and you have to have at least 50% of your profits going back into that,” says Roffey.
100% of her profits will be pumped back into the business to help fund the creation of the community hub and train employers, so she has to sell a lot of coffee and cake.
The owner is not only putting gooey lava centers in cakes but also flipping the business model on its head and “putting something different in the middle.”
“The whole social enterprise aspect can be grey, because you’re not a charity and you’re not a business. And a lot of people find that a struggle to conceptualise in their heads,” she says.
Expect a muffin range to massage your gustatory cells for breakfast and Lauren’s flagship salted peanut butter cookie amongst tons of homemade marshmallows.
But the menu will change with the season’s tide, so its best to visit the bakery this June if freshly picked strawberries laying on a bed of pastry cream happens to be your thing.