Cardiff bakery helping young aspiring chefs set for significant expansion.

Ceri Johnston Bower launched Cardiff-based The Early Bird Bakery in 2015. The bakery offers freshly cooked meals and bakes and provides a space for aspiring chefs to kick-start their culinary careers. Having received start-up support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, Ceri is now engaging with a growth adviser for help with her expansion plans and new service offering.

  • start-up support
  • relationship Management assistance with expansion plans and future growth

Introduction to business

Launched in 2015 by Ceri Johnston Bower, The Early Bird Bakery is a Cardiff-based bakery and café, dedicated to helping young aspiring chefs get the training and support they need to start their careers.

The Early Bird Bakery offers freshly made bakes and meals, using the best locally sourced ingredients, as well as speciality coffees, sourced from ethical supply chains and hand roasted in their stone baked ovens, a selection of homemade seasonal cordials, iced teas and juices.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I was working as a pastry chef and baker in London but when the hiraeth of home became too strong, we headed back West. When we first arrived in Cardiff, I was disappointed with the lack of employment opportunities for artisan bakers, so with some encouragement from friends and family, I decided that self-employment was a good route to take.

We opened The Early Bird Bakery and café in 2015 in a little corner of Cathays near Cardiff University. The first few months were a huge learning curve and I don’t think we would have gotten through it without the support from Business Wales. Through a lot of hard work, we gained in popularity and quickly ran out of space to keep up with the demand. In 2019, we found the perfect location just a stone’s throw away for a sister site called Friends in Knead. This will be a workshop bakery able to meet the demand for our lovely bakes while providing the opportunity to go into wholesale trade and baking classes.

What challenges did you face?

My greatest challenge has been trying to manage my time effectively as an owner/operator. It's difficult to get things done when your hands are always stuck in brioche dough! I’ve been spread thin which has stopped us from expanding as quickly as we would have liked. Luckily, I’ve got an amazing team behind me now and it’s all come into place this year. I’ve been able to hand off some operational responsibilities giving me the time to focus on helping the business grow to its full potential.

Business Wales support

Business Wales have been supporting Ceri from the very start of her business journey. She is currently engaging with a Relationship Manager, Kris Hicks, as she needed assistance with the rapid expansion of the bakery and the need to take on another unit.

Having reviewed her business plan and financial forecasts, Kris is working with Ceri to develop a growth strategy and action plan and is advising her on expansion aspects such as going into wholesale and new service offering.

Outcomes

Support from Business Wales has been priceless to us since before we even opened. The resources for small business owners are excellent – with free workshops and mentorship as well as advice on everything from tax to HR, there wasn’t much we weren’t able to receive help on. Kris Hicks, in particular, has been a star with the support he’s given on our next steps and we’re looking forward to working with him again as we expand in 2020.

Plans and ambitions

Friends in Knead opened in November 2019, which we are all extremely excited about. We’re then onto Barry in 2020 with two sites in The Goods Shed development on the Waterfront. Friends in Knead will take centre stage for us there as well as a new project which you’ll just have to watch this space to find out about!

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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