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My journey into starting a micro bakery

1 Dec

My journey into starting a micro bakery.

I have neglected to stay in touch

30 Nov

I have neglected to stay in touch.

I have neglected to stay in touch

30 Nov

It feels like I have became obsolete in the world of blogging, makes me think of one of my old professors who used the mantra not publishing means academic ruin. I know people need to know about you, but sometimes life gets in the way.I hope my blog will remedy my absence.

It has been rater hectic since I have last posted and kept in touch. It was very hectic and l feel that I ave been juggling so many balls at one time. On reflection it was good to be busy, sometimes I worried that I am not getting anywhere but ten some magic happens that reminds me that I have a great product and a good presence on the Bread scene in Birmingham. Today, I sold bread at the MAC food market. It was humbling and encouraging to see my old customers welcoming me back after a three month absence, yes the same old me with my odd anxiety that my handmade bread is not perfect, and that my customers wont like it. I still get admonished by my customers about this rather strange dereliction with a perfect looking loaf of bread.

I mentioned an absence of tree months, I cannot believe it has been that long, but a lot happened in tat time, I went to South Africa to perform stand up comedy at the Johannesburg International arts Festival. An opportunity for me to perform in my native tongue, Afrikaans and to perform to my immediate and extended family , was very surreal. Surreal might be a wrong word to use, but it was very liberating. It helped me to address and exorcise some of the demons from my past.

I feel that the shows was a success and i ad fun and people enjoyed my performances and story telling.I will definitely return and do more stand up comedy performances in Johannesburg.

I attended a wedding when I was there too, and enjoyed meeting with all my old friends too.

South Africa is still as strange a country as it was when I left it, except the emphasis of imbalance have shifted to rich and poor, employed and unemployed and social inequalities i shan’t remind you or myself about, it is too distressing and will not lead to any solutions in this post.

I discovered that there are  like in the United Kingdom a North South divide in Johannesburg.

I encouraged people to dig deeper in their  ability and challenged them to start creating their own income and start small businesses.

I baked bread which I sold at a farmers market in Walkerville. e bread was very well received and t sold out. showed the people i wanted to see how to sell something that is needed and create an income. One drawback was that I ended up baking bread for my extended family because I reminded them of my grandfather and his bakery when we were children. I think it was nice to give em back some memories,

I decided that i want to return to South Africa to start a community bakery, community garden and urban farm and develop a performance presence to help address the community I lived in to become empowered and increase the survival capacity.

A community market to sell locally grown and made produce is also part of this plan. Off course the idea of a micro brewery to brew a local beer also seemed appealing.

I have started networking to explore the idea of doing live art and other performances.

I discovered a self taught artist who paints such beautiful modern art images it was sad to discover that he does not even understand his own talent or worth, made me think of myself when I am depressed and not well.

I returned briefly to Birmingham and did my bread comedy performance as part of the Afrovibes Festival that happened in Birmingham. I am good excellent feedback after the show and some exciting opportunity is starting to takes shape from that collaboration.

Tat was not all that happened in my absence. I went to Savannah to attend my daughter’s wedding. She married the lovely Rusty Lawson and he welcomed me very graciously. He is the epitome that the notion of achieving your American dream is not an empty notion. Fine gentleman and son -in -law he is.

I will not bore you with a running commentary about the wedding, however i smile everytime I think about how weddings and funerals brings out the best and the worst  character traits in us. Hang on to this tradition it is their to keep us sane and in touch with ourselves.

I got back to Birmingham to face a host of issues. I am moving into a different direction and I am having to plan again how to build on my success of the last few years.

I am moving into another bakery space. I started  selling traditional South African vetkoek and curries and decided that I must build up this aspect of my business as well.

I decided I need to get myself to drive again and exploit the opportunities that the street food markets will offer me,

Yes i do think I must close my bakery and concentrate on getting a more steady income, but giving up all I learnt, sacrificed and dreamt about in the last five years will be such a waste and almost fatalistic at this stage. Did you ever feel you were on the cusp of something happening?

All in all I have developed a new approach. I have baked and developed new bread recipes and mastered some difficult transitions, and survived, I also had an article written in the Saga Magazine written about me and the baking.That makes me think and believe I am a unique and creative person and enjoy the process of reinventing my life, I still have  skeletons in my cupboards and wolves at my door but….. The insights I have developed  are, that there are too many people who care about me and have contributed to my life to give up now.

I want o salute and say thank you to all of the people who is in my life at this time.

I promise to write soon and tell you ow my stollen baking and Christmas work went, but that will be after Christmas when I recover from the hardwork and the indulgence. ave a wonderful festive season and be kind to yourself, have as much fun and Christmas cheer you can tolerate,

Bye

Albert

Hello, I know it has been a long time.

28 Mar

Hello, I know it has been a long time..

Hello, I know it has been a long time.

28 Mar

Good morning, I am full of the joys of spring, the days are longer, though cold and I must apologise for my rather long absence.Many things happened and I hope reading this , like me writing this will explain the  situation.

I am still baking bread and cannot lie by saying that the micro bakery has not been successful. At times I felt I  must give up and start a new life, but  everytime I knead dough the magic of creating something, waiting to see the finished bread, grips me and tell me not to give up on my dream.

It is not easy, I have to decide to expand the bread baking, with that comes new challenges such as finding resources to expand my operation amongst many things. One reality that hit me hard was , that I may have to create employment for someone else too and suddenly realised that having others depend on me for the employment is not an easy task.

I have been asked many questions about my plans for expansion and did try to answer them as best as I could.One that remained longer was” What is the vision of your business?”

My vision for my business will always be:

to create a job for myself

to sell good bread

to end my own poverty

to share my enthusiasm for change with other people

I can expand on this but it will become too complicated.I guess my plans to expand is another vision too.

On different levels life has been challenging for me too. I have had full blown depression again.

I have met up with my daughter who I have abandoned and after twenty years found a person who was very understanding and accepting all she required was a promise to be loved and know that she is never forgotten.

This meeting took place in America and I can honestly say that I fell in love with the place, Savannah, georgia and can see myself live there quite easily.

New York was magical and a place that I would escape to if I want to loose myself in a sea of anonymous humanity.

I had to continue to perform stand up comedy to keep me sane and give me room to express my feelings. I can say that my comedy has improved and I have developed a comedy show, started to perform it at the Birmingham Comedy Festival and it is a work in progress. A delightful work in progress I daresay.

I have become an ambassador for Edith Cavell Nurses Trust and is working on a fundraising campaign for the Trust and I am enjoying it very much.

I still make a lot of friends as I go along, that is human.

I get much support from other people too.

I have been featured in newspaper articles, been interviewed for local television, appeared on the food programme on Radio 4 and all this has helped me to understand why I am enjoying this journey so much.

My thoughts are that I would like to package my journey in life, into  a neat package that I can share with people who are facing life changing situation and that may need help to negotiate a different course in their life.

What excites me the most is an opportunity to perform  comedy in Eldorado Park , Johannesburg a place where I grew  and that is so much part of the fabric of my life.

I must go, but I promise to keep you informed about my bread, and comedy and life in general . Goodbye till next time. Albert

 

Hello it is snowing again

11 Feb

Hello it is snowing again.

Hello it is snowing again

11 Feb

Good morning Birmingham looks beautiful today with all the snow. I enjoyed walking to work in the snow and seeing the virgin unspoiled snow really lifted my spirits. It felt so good to think I am making the first imprints on the snow.

I think that this snow and feeling I  got made me reflective and got me thinking that I have not ket people informed about how I am doing and how my progess with my bakery is going and how I feel at the moment.

I am still very euphoric and excited that I moved from my home kitchen to this small unit and that I am getting on top of making my bread making process.

I am now better acquainted with my oven and must say it produces better bread and I am still in search of the perfect shapd loaf .My bread orders are increasing too and somehow the reality of having to push myself to get more business  seems to be paying off.I must admit the realization that I must start baking for a profit to make a success of my business is exciting and very challenging. I admit I loose faith and slip back into think how nice it will be to earn a salary from a job and not having to have the pressure to create my own destiny is but then think” ye of little faith.”

So far the bakery is  not profitable and I am struggling to make ends meet but every new client who orders bread are  a welcome addition to a long list of people who support me. The Bearwood Pantry  is very supportive and their weekly orders are growing and we building a good relationship  even with a few setbacks.I have another client  Vegetropolis who drives me mad since he wants sourdough bread at the most earliest ill prepared time, but thank God he does get his bread and i think he is trying very hard to realize that I have to stick to a pattern and now gets his orders in less then on demand. I still sell at markets is Birmingham, the MAC  food market being the most enjoyable and the one I get the most feedback for about my bread and the quality of the bread. And the Busy Parents Network market is a delight to attend , admitting I have not seen as many pregnant women in one room since I was a midwife is the early 1980.Made me smile thinking of the days.

I am still doing my stand up comedy and have now a few new sets that I perform and seem to have great success with them. I lost out at a gong show the other night but what was  good for my comedic soul was that within the 4 minutes before I was voted off I had 3 rounds of applause. It made not beating the gong bearable. I have booking until November so far. I was reminded that I said I am giving up comedy in December and it is now February and I am talking of bookings in November.Well give up comedy , I am not ready to go back on psychiatric drugs too.

Talking about drugs, I see the trees are in bud and guess what. I was not a depressed the  winter as always  Hold on just had my train of thought interrupted , listening  to a track that brings so many memories back Gladys Knight ” Midnight train to Georgia” where did my life go.

Anyway back to the depression yes I feel that I am getting better and is e very happy about that. I shall not tell the psychiatrist because he will think otherwise and say I am manic.

I have many things to be grateful for and also have many plans for y bakery too. One main problem remains,  that is doing fundraising for equipment and things I need. I do so many charity fundraising gigs and think I should now suggest a comedy fundraising gig for Ubuntu bakery to buy equipment. I wonder if such a thing is ethical and allowed

Well that is how thing are for the moment and I guess the new goal is to just increase my sales and generate more business , achievable I am sure and feel good about this stage of my business development

Good bye and until next time keep well and take care

Albert