After losing her job at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hannah Stevens fell back on the baking skills taught to her by her grandmother, Olive – and what started as a hobby has now become a fully-fledged business.
From making a few brownies and blondies for family and friends, the mother of two became inundated with orders as word spread about her boxes of nine brownies in a variety of flavours.
At the peak of the pandemic, her doorstep quickly became a popular socially-distanced pick-up point for an increasing number of regular customers of what had become known as Baked in the Shire.
‘I was working for Gloucester Quays in customer services for about four years and really enjoyed it. But when the pandemic came, so did a Zoom meeting about redundancy. I was faced with the question ‘What are you going to do now?,’ said Stevens, 27.
‘Then I remember how I used to love baking with my nan and thought it was something really positive to do. When I put a post about brownies on Facebook, it was for friends and family to start with, but they started recommending it to other others and it just grew.
‘And reviews kept coming back really positive.’
Brownie flavours include, Milkybar, chocolate orange, salted caramel, Oreo, Biscoff, Malteser, Kinder, Turkish delight, Rolo and Crunchie, while for blondies, there are white chocolate and raspberry, gold bar, Jamie Dodger and cinnamon swirl to choose from.
With her home kitchen rated and fit to operate commercially, the enterprise she thought she could fit around her six and three-year-old daughters, while her partner Tom Raybould worked full-time, continued to grow.
Contracts were also struck to supply cafés in Gloucester and she soon knew a shop was a must, if she was going to separate work and family life once more.
That shop, beside the Hilltop restaurant on Worcester Street in Gloucester, is a venture she has funded with her redundancy money.
And it is Raybould, who works for NatWest in Cheltenham, who has been fitting out the new Worcester Street headquarters, complete with a Rijo42 self service coffee machine.
Doors open for the first time on Saturday Saturday 25 June 2022 at 9.30am for half a day, and thereafter from 9.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday, with a shorter opening time on Saturdays.
By Andrew Merrell
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