Jeremy Jacobs, owner and founder of Raise Bakery in Brighton, England brings warm and welcome insights for business owners during a tough year. Jeremy initially began his business for his mother, but it gained more meaning to him than he ever could have predicted. With the current Covid-19 crisis affecting businesses across the world in ways no one could have imagined, creative adaptation has enabled Jeremy’s company to overcome an unpredictable trial.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Making the best of your situation in the middle of a pandemic
- Building a strong brand that outlasts trends
- Advice from an entrepreneur who made it work
Jeremy had a background in digital marketing, running large media campaigns until the financial crash in 2008. At that point, entrepreneurship became his life. His bakery humbly began as a website where customers could order a hand delivered box of cupcakes. The bakery took off when the family won a contract to supply baked goods for Virgin Atlantic. With increasing demand, they up-sized from his mother’s kitchen to another bakery, and then to their own production facility. Shortly after the upscale, they moved from supplying Virgin Atlantic and spent the subsequent years exploring how to grow their business. And then Covid-19 hit.
How have you made the best of your situation in a pandemic?
On March 23, 2020, the UK began its lockdown in the wake of the pandemic– causing Raise Bakery to lose 90% of its business. At home with nothing to do, Jeremy joined and became active in a support group for his street. It was here that he started noticing a need for baking flour. Only 4% of flour in the UK is distributed for retail, and only 16 mills in the UK even produce flour for retail. Jeremy saw this as an opportunity– and jumped on it. They had plenty of flour from the bakery so he started giving it out to people. When some started offering outrageous amounts for his flour, the next part of Jeremy’s business found its advantageous beginning.
Within 24 hours, Jeremy set up a Shopify website. Raise’s minimalist, clean, branding allowed him to succeed with a free theme to represent their brand. He then used Google AdWords (now Google Ads) to run numerous campaigns and the business started rolling in. They would get 450 orders a day but at this point, had no internal systems to manage it. It was a race against time to un-bag, repackage, and properly label their supplies for distribution.
How do you build a brand that outlasts the initial demand?
It was slow going at first, but the Raise team had two main things that helped them. One was a preexisting relationship with their shipping company, and the other was understanding customers that realized that this was a new system. Even with patient shoppers, Jeremy knew the importance of building good relationships with them. He aimed to achieve this by using their website to establish expectations. Customers could see online when their orders would be shipped, and it didn’t take Jeremy long to figure out a timely shipping system to reduce shipping times. Business was up and booming. With such great demand for baking supplies, they expanded their catalog to offer 60 items.
When the initial high demand for flour died down, Jeremy had a plan. He had already anticipated and prepared for this eventuality by emphasizing Raise Bakery’s unique selling point: professional, bakery grade ingredients that you cannot buy at your local supermarket. They started adding on their own baked goods to the e-commerce mix. With so much business, the company invests back into itself when they purchased a flow wrapper to professionally wrap their products.
What is some advice you would give having been through these experiences?
Jeremy had a few words of wisdom for people looking to start off their businesses. I’ll add that he offers even more wisdom through Cookie Jar Consultancy, where his advice helps people start their businesses. He began by encouraging people to focus on what they are passionate about. Sometimes a business idea can start as a trend– but when that trend dies down, it’s passion that keeps the business going. Jeremy loves what he does because he gets to work with great people and is part of transforming the way that food is made in the UK.
The next piece of advice from Jeremy is to have a clear vision and a mission statement. He also says to do our research and homework– particularly for those entering a crowded market where a competitive advantage is needed. You need to have a unique selling point to be able to differentiate yourself against your competitors. Do something that makes you stand out– otherwise you’ll just compete on price.