Who knew, we’ve made it AND SOME, well into 2015! One year ago we still just had an unconverted empty old carpet shop with the Rex Baker producing out of our home garage working bakery for a Saturday morning pop-up. Whilst that was all quite a challenge in itself… we had no idea what was to come!
We’ve worked relentlessly this past year with a vision of the highest possible standard in baked products and a bakery that makes Little Chalfont a better place to be. In the process we have:
1) Experienced the extraordinary kindness of so many local people
- Thanks to the Villagers who placed regular orders & proved out that Little Chalfont truly values Real Bread made slowly
- We love love love our Rex branding materials, volunteered by good friend & big London agency design chief Rick
- Who else is in awe of our beautiful product photography, put together for our website by lovely Peter, who also shoots the most amazing luxury homes if anybody’s selling?!
- Navigated the minefield of how to become an employer with the help of HR expert & super-mum Kanika (plus a lot of cold face learning along the way…)
- We bent the ear of super-practical & paint-brush wielding Ben, organiser of the wonderful Adventure Talks. We now exclusively support his favourite Neuroblastoma Society charity in memory of the loss of his dear son Alex
To get established we worked with local village contacts & friends in building, carpentry, digital, electrics, Eat Inn… thank you all!
Two common themes. First, it was a great help that the Rex Baker was in the heart of the local school & Westwood Park Football communities prior to become a baker – that local families network has really launched Rex, it surely took a village to bring our bakery to life! 🙂 Second, our special supporters are all genius specialists in their chosen fields. What a talent-filled village! In the pursuit of the highest possible standards, better never stops
2) overcome obstacles, even the seemingly insurmountable
- Power-gate looked like a showstopper – we lost weeks & a lot of sleep when the Electricity board initially advised there was insufficient grid capacity in the parade to run our ovens
- We lost our pricey new patisserie fridge to a dodgy courier who then conveniently went into liquidation. That was an expensive 4-figure write-off but what to do? At the other end of the spectrum, we’re also still grumbling about losing out on a fake £50 …
- After starting with a trusty blue cash tin for weeks, we’ve pioneered a useful cloud-based ipad till system with dinky mobile Bluetooth card machine – might look all cool & conceptual but the latter has proved way too flaky. Avoid Adyen! We’ll be reverting to a more traditional, clunky but hopefully reliable docked method for payments very shortly
- Our original night baker & friend Neil suddenly & tragically died at home 1 weekend in June, less than 3 months after we opened and the Rex Baker doubled shifted for an age whilst we sought a replacement. In fact, due to staff turnover & shortages & inductions, illnesses, accidents, holidays… he has continued to also night bake for parts of every week since, focusing on making our core Real Breads. Better never stops.
- We have been been targeted by meddling officialdom – regarding licenses, tables, shop noise, health & safety checks, planning groups, you name it… It’s amazing to discover how start-ups could simply drown under the red tape out there. We’ll have a whingey blog another day on how Britain is so NOT open for new business unfortunately
3) Been judged & awarded to be amongst the best of British artisan bakers
We were so excited to win so many gold, silver & bronze medals for our various breads, buns & Malt Loaf at the tiptree World Bread Awards 2014. It blew the Rex Baker away to think that the selection of Rex goodies he personally made & transported up by Tube to the huge panel of expert judges to taste in Victoria, was deemed to be as high quality & in some cases better than produce from the very best & most experienced names in artisan baking. It was a lovely awards ceremony, but it was the next morning that the Rex Baker was well & truly moved when it was published how well he had done, so soon after opening. But of course – better never stops.
4) sharpened our plans for 2015
- We like being judged for the standards we strive for so will keep seeking out Awards! We’re less keen on the “popularity votes only” types like Bucks Best Bakery here – but hey, we were grateful to be nominated in the 1st place & will be humbled by any votes. So please keep suggestions coming – we are especially looking for a Sausage Roll contest but haven’t found one yet!
- Many of us were stunned when Wenzel’s chain opened up a few doors down from us in the Parade in November – how very dare they! Whilst their low pricing approach appeals to some, our dear Rex Friends value our original long fermentation, hand-making methods with organic flour on our premises – but it has all made us think long & hard about our communications. Does everyone understand the clear blue water between the “bakeries” in Little Chalfont? Lots more posters, pictures, awards & honest explanations of what makes us so special to come 🙂
- There are SO MANY products in the pipeline – and always will be. Here’s just a few of the simply delicious upcoming plans
* Hand-tempered Belgian chocolate by Rex for Valentine’s Day and beyond – hearts, slabs, milk & white chocolate, mixed… extremely high quality, highest cocoa solids & simply delicious
* Our new pie warmer can hold Pasties! We’ve been sampling lots of Rex development versions – favourites so far include Rump steak & vegetables pasty and cheese & onion vegetarian pasty. mmmm.
* A new shop fridge with Breakfast items such as Yoghurt with fruit & Rex-made granola; a new waffle iron to make fresh Rex Waffles; Porridge…
* Wraps, pizza, choux pastry dessert items, quiches, gateaux…. the list goes on
- Wholesale has already become an exciting part of our business, with discerning local businesses choosing to seek us out because they share our high quality food values (and love our Sausage Rolls 🙂
- We’re confident that wholesale will be a big, growing focus this year…
So as Better never stops, we plan to continue to grow – within our shop, outside it, in profile & most critically with you, our Dear Friends of Rex.
Thanks as always for your continued support & have a great week! xx