Did you pick up a new hobby during the lockdown?

Undoubtedly, one of the most popular pastimes over the past year has to be baking, as many people get to grips with new baking skills, from banana bread to sourdough.

However, for some home baking has provided the opportunity to start a new business, and ITV News reports that there has been a 150 per cent increase in new small baking businesses across the UK from 2019 to 2020.

Two such people starting out on a baking business venture are Lisa Shepherd and Saskia Roskam from Leeds, who own Bloom Bakers, a part-time baking business hobby. When COVID-19 hit the UK, they feared that their B2B baking venture would go under, as their main revenue stream was selling branded biscuits for corporate events, launches and to celebrate milestones.

But when events were cancelled in the first lockdown, they decided to send out free 'kindness biscuits' with encouraging messages such as ‘Stay Safe’ and 'Thinking of you’, to help people keep connected and spreading kindness one biscuit at a time.

With people now in lockdown in their homes, many turned to online shopping, and the bakers received huge volumes of business to consumer orders started to come in and sales increased by over 400 per cent.

Their clients which include the likes of Nestlé, BUPA, and the BBC, were now looking for individually packaged biscuits, and the option to send out biscuits directly to employees’ homes. The duo was also able to launch new products such as their ‘Happy Lockdown Birthday’ box.

Saskia said: “I honestly don’t know how we did it. We still had our part-time jobs in marketing, two kids each at home that needed to be home-schooled, and the business was booming. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much.”

When the first lockdown was eased over the summer, their B2B orders began picking up again, and by September Saskia quit her marketing job to go full time into the business.

Bloom Bakers subsequently had the busiest Christmas season to date, with sales of their award-winning Eleedsen-lebkuchen seeing an 800 per cent rise compared to the previous season.

The pair realised after Christmas that Bloom Bakers had thrived during the pandemic and profits had quintupled in the past year, which led Lisa to quit her secure job so she could fully focus on making the business an even bigger success in 2021.

The business has grown organically without needing any outside funding. In was set up back in 2016 with only £1000 over three months from both the founders, who at the time were both mothers to very young children.

Lisa added: "We are seeing new businesses spring up like mushrooms, but they are hardly ever run by mothers. We hope our story will inspire other mums who have lost their jobs or had to give it up due to the everyday juggle that is now so real for many of us.”

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