Waikato Business News August/September 2023

Waikato Business News has for a quarter of a century been the voice of the region’s business community, a business community with a very real commitment to innovation and an ethos of cooperation.

Waikato Business News has for a quarter of a century been the voice of the region’s business community, a business community with a very real commitment to innovation and an ethos of cooperation.

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3<br />

Sally Valentine, Lydia Henderson, Lucy Donaldson and Loren Hickman-Mabin<br />

Lucy earns her<br />

gluten free daily bread<br />

FROM - PAGE 1<br />

Lucy’s gluten free bread<br />

is now stocked in stores<br />

across the <strong>Waikato</strong>, Bay<br />

of Plenty and Auckland, and<br />

she’s churning out around<br />

1200 loaves a week.<br />

It was while breastfeeding<br />

her third child and watching<br />

him struggle with colic that<br />

prompted Lucy to cut gluten<br />

and dairy from her diet to give<br />

him some relief.<br />

It worked for him and Lucy<br />

also noticed that her eczema<br />

and stomach pains also eased<br />

up.<br />

“I was originally an operating<br />

theatre nurse and I<br />

used to think the eczema was<br />

due to washing my hands<br />

with surgical scrub so often.<br />

But now I think I may have<br />

had an underlying gluten<br />

intolerance.”<br />

Lucy says like many people<br />

on a gluten free journey she<br />

struggled to find bread that<br />

didn’t compromise on taste<br />

and texture in comparison to<br />

normal bread.<br />

No stranger to baking,<br />

Lucy had been making traditional<br />

sourdough for many<br />

years and decided to experiment<br />

with making gluten free<br />

sourdough.<br />

“I couldn't find any bread<br />

that I actually liked so I<br />

started on a mission of making<br />

Ed Hemming, Lucy Donaldson and Ryan Simmons<br />

my own. And then I became<br />

super obsessed with it until I<br />

got it to the point where I was<br />

like - man, this is a better than<br />

anything I can buy, I wonder<br />

if anyone else would enjoy it,”<br />

she says.<br />

Lucy had always been a<br />

fan of bakery Volare sourdough<br />

so she decided to make<br />

a cheeky call to co- owner Ed<br />

Hemming.<br />

“I wondered why the biggest<br />

bakery in the <strong>Waikato</strong><br />

wasn’t doing anything gluten<br />

free so I tracked down Ed’s<br />

number and gave him a call.”<br />

The call couldn’t have<br />

come at a better time for both<br />

parties; Volare owners Ed and<br />

Ryan Simmons were keen<br />

to do a gluten free range but<br />

didn’t have the time and they<br />

were happy to support Lucy to<br />

make a go of baking and selling<br />

gluten free bread.<br />

“They had lots of people<br />

asking about gluten free<br />

bread so they knew there was<br />

a demand. But they wanted to<br />

do it right with a purpose-built<br />

bakery to make sure that if<br />

you're calling it gluten free<br />

there's no possibilities of cross<br />

contamination. I wasn't sure<br />

at our first meeting where it<br />

would go or what would come<br />

of it, but after a long chat we<br />

decided to start a business<br />

together.”<br />

With her youngest only 18<br />

months old at the time Lucy<br />

wasn’t sure how she would<br />

manage but the decision was<br />

Sally Valentine, Lucy Donaldson and Lydia Henderson<br />

taken out of her hands a short<br />

while later when New Zealand<br />

went into its first COVID<br />

lockdown.<br />

Not wanting to take the<br />

risk in uncertain times, they<br />

decided to put the business<br />

idea on the backburner.<br />

And, like so many of us<br />

during lockdown, Lucy got her<br />

bake on and set about perfecting<br />

her sourdough.<br />

“We kept in touch. But it<br />

was all up in the air of whether<br />

we should be doing this. I was<br />

still quite driven about it, even<br />

though I didn't really know<br />

whether it would happen or<br />

not.”<br />

Two years later in April<br />

2022 after lots of baking<br />

trial and error, and several<br />

lockdowns, they opened a purpose-built<br />

bakery in Grasslands<br />

Place in Hamilton.<br />

In the first three months<br />

Lucy worked really long hours<br />

five days a week trying to keep<br />

up with the production.<br />

“I’d get up super early to<br />

head to Hamilton to bake the<br />

bread, drive back to Raglan,<br />

pick up the kids and take them<br />

into Hamilton. My husband<br />

would pick them up and then<br />

I'd slice all the bread, pack<br />

it, take it down to Volare and<br />

then go home.”<br />

Having been a theatre<br />

nurse helped with the stamina<br />

off pulling such long shifts and<br />

being on her feet all day.<br />

“Ed and Ryan were instrumental<br />

in getting someone to<br />

help. They said this isn't sustainable.<br />

Yes, you’ve got to<br />

do long hours when you first<br />

go into business, but it’s not<br />

sustainable when you’ve got a<br />

young family. To be honest we<br />

weren't expecting it to be so<br />

popular, so quickly.”<br />

Ed’s business mind and<br />

Ryan’s baking expertise coupled<br />

with the thousands of<br />

hours of Lucy’s gluten free<br />

baking experimentation was<br />

the perfect storm for a successful<br />

business.<br />

“I couldn't have done it<br />

without them and they say the<br />

same about me. It was a perfect<br />

combination of the three<br />

of us because we all have different<br />

things to offer,” Lucy<br />

says.<br />

It’s still hard graft but<br />

she now employs five staff<br />

who help her get the bread to<br />

market.<br />

As well as being stocked<br />

in every Volare store in the<br />

<strong>Waikato</strong> and Auckland, lots of<br />

health food stores now stock<br />

the gluten free range.<br />

Lucy’s bread is also sold on<br />

the Volare stand at the Hamilton<br />

and Cambridge Markets<br />

and is sold online and<br />

delivered direct to customers<br />

nationwide.<br />

The range includes a sourdough,<br />

a fruit bread, a seedy<br />

loaf and a tradition white<br />

loaf which, Lucy says, will<br />

work perfectly at a sausage<br />

sizzle and ideal for the kids’<br />

lunchboxes.<br />

Having grown so quickly,<br />

Lucy is now focusing on<br />

expanding the Auckland<br />

market.<br />

“We're just trying to perfect<br />

our systems at the moment<br />

and trying to increase our<br />

Auckland client base. Logistic<br />

for us is really hard being<br />

a fresh product. So we’re just<br />

trying to fine tune those kind<br />

of practices to make it more<br />

accessible for people.”<br />

Having grown up in Raglan,<br />

Lucy credits the entrepreneurial<br />

and spirit she experienced<br />

in the small surf town<br />

to giving her the confidence to<br />

start a business.<br />

“Raglan has changed a lot<br />

and the community size has<br />

grown, but I still think that<br />

it is full of people supporting<br />

new ideas and each other,<br />

which is probably why it continues<br />

to attract so many new<br />

people - nothing to do with<br />

the surf of course. Having that<br />

support behind me I think<br />

really gave me the confidence<br />

to put myself out there and<br />

give it a go.”

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