Making Baking a Passion for Living!

Small Business Canada

Emma Hammon, Founder, HAMMOND BAKING CO.

Emma Hammond was born in Orillia, Ontario as Emma McIsaac and attended school in Orillia for her entire academic career. Now, as she continues to work as a Sales rep for Cadbury, her free time is spent in the kitchen experimenting with bread. Even though her current passion is Sourdough and artisan bread, she has vast experience in cakes, pastries, and other dough.

Emma Hammond has been passionate about baking for eight years, switching her focus from cakes, to pastries, to the ever-popular soft pretzels. Now with a newfound interest in artisan bread and dough, she has widened her business model to reflect as such. In addition to teaching various bread and dough classes through Orillia Parks and Rec, she has had a booth at the Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers Market for 5 years. She even made it to the final round of auditions for the Great Canadian Baking show two times!

Emma’s newfound social media success has drastically grown her business with close to 15,000 followers on TikTok (growing each day!) she now sells 15 hours’ worth of baking in less than 3 hours at her local farmers market – attracting customers people from all over the province to her small town market.

A few sentences on how you’ve used TikTok for your business and the success you’ve seen because of it

I started using TikTok to show my process. Sourdough is such a learned art, with so many different components to make it just right. I never thought that my page would bring in any kind of success above and beyond my regular local customers. The more I shared, the more my views went up, followed by my followers, followed by real-life customers. Being able to meet someone who got their friends together for a 3-hour road trip at 6 am on a Saturday just to get my baking that they saw on TikTok has been the most tangible success a business could possibly ask for.

What was your motivation for starting your small business?

Five years ago, I decided I wanted to have a farmers market booth. With no marketable talents, I began taking courses through my local town’s Parks and Recreation. The great thing about selling products at a farmer’s market is you’re able to bring various things each week to see what sells well and what doesn’t. In the infancy of my business, I was selling small cakes. As my business grew, I began experimenting and I stumbled upon the soft pretzel which did exceptionally well. In those early days, I’d bring 20-30 soft pretzels to the market. Now, 5 years later I have fine-tuned my products to Sourdough, Soft Pretzels, and English muffins. Each market I bring (and sell out of) 250-300 soft pretzels. I never would have imagined my business growing to what it has, seeing as it was just something I wanted to do for fun!

What are some strategies you have found helpful when it comes to running a small business?

There are a lot of things I attribute to the success of my business. In the early days, it was my grit that carried me through. It was persevering through the difficult days—failed bakes or days where I didn’t make enough money to cover the cost of my booth.

When my business was established, I leveraged my creativity to help run it. Experimenting in the kitchen, bringing different things to the market each week to see what did well and what didn’t, and listening to feedback.

Present-day, with a thriving business that sells out at the market each week I’m there, I find it helpful to create a schedule and carefully plan out each minute of the day, so I am optimizing bake times. This way I’m able to get the baking done without it interfering with personal time with my family.

Which, if any, of the following has been the most difficult aspect in handling your small business over the past year: Marketing/Brand Strategy, Passwords/Security Passcodes, Employee Policies/Relationships with Other Employees

I would say that Marketing and Brand strategy has been the most difficult aspect of my business this year. I had spent years building my business only to have the entire thing put on hold for 2020. Not only because of COVID-19, but I was also pregnant, so I couldn’t get back to baking until early 2021. After an entire year off from my business, it was daunting to return. Marketing was the most useful way to remind people of my products and I threw myself into creating content for Hammond Baking Co. and built up a huge following. My business is better than it ever has been because I overcame this obstacle.

What are the benefits, both in terms of marketing and resources, of having an account on TikTok?

Marketing through TikTok has been a complete game-changer for my business. Initially, my TikTok page had zero videos. I knew that TikTok was a great tool for promoting small business content, but I didn’t think it was for me as I wasn’t shipping out my product. Shortly after creating my account, I started creating content. I didn’t know who this content was for, but with helpful local hashtags (#orillia #canadiansmallbusiness #muskoka #orilliafarmersmarket) I was able to gain followers who were local to me, and who were able to find me at the market.

Now as my account has grown to over 16,000 followers, I am seeing tangible evidence of TikTok’s power and reach. Each week at the market I listen to customers tell me how far they drove to come and purchase bread from me at 8:00 a.m. on the dot when my booth opens. Seeing real followers of mine making that kind of effort just to buy something they’ve never tasted before has been such an experience.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own business?

My advice to those starting out is to push through the growing pains. There may be days where it seems like success isn’t in the cards for you or days where you don’t make a lot of money, or everything seems to go wrong. I still have days where I open my oven and 12 loaves of bread didn’t rise and I feel like quitting altogether. Working through those pains and annoyances and getting back into it as soon as your wounds have healed is what will grow your skill set, your customers base, and your business.

Share some of the best and worst parts of being a small business owner!

The best part of being a small business owner is creating something with your own two hands that people want to purchase. Everything that I sell is a product that I have made from scratch. Another great part is being able to go at your own pace. I was able to take days off when I was pregnant and sick or dealing with a baby who wouldn’t sleep, or just need a week off. Working for yourself you’re able to give yourself grace.

The worst part is not wanting to give yourself that grace. Knowing that every dollar you make you must produce products to earn, it’s very hard to say no to orders and take time off. It’s important to set business boundaries and for me to schedule days and weeks to allow me to be not only the best business owner I can be but also the best wife and mother.

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