After being laid-off, Josie Rudderham saw an opportunity to focus her career on the food business which she’d always dreamed about and college friend, Nicole Miller, had already been working in the baking industry for over a decade but was eager to start her own business. That’s where the two reconnected after four years of losing touch with one another after college. With their passion and desire to open a bakery, and their roots in Hamilton, Ontario, Nicole and Josie started Cake & Loaf Bakery, a from-scratch neighbourhood bakery focused on shaping living wage careers and showcasing creative talents in the community.

The employees of the bakery, which they call “Loafers” are encouraged to develop their creativity in all aspects of their business, while creating custom, special occasion cakes, artisan breads, pastries, chocolates and confections, coffee and light lunches that have an emphasis on organic, fair trade and local ingredients. The pair wanted to create a workplace that not only they love, but that their employees love too. “First, we try to make sure our employees have the tools they need to do their job properly whether that’s training, physical equipment, a living wage or access to the right ingredients,” Josie explains. “Then we let them do what they do best.”

Recently the Hamilton-based bakery beat out 3,400 other small businesses from across Canada in the TELUS Small Business Challenge. This annual event is hosted by TELUS and The Globe and Mail and shines a light on Canada’s small business community. The contest invites entrepreneurs to submit their biggest business challenge and propose an innovative solution for a chance to win a grand prize of $100,000. Josie and Nicole entered this contest on a whim with no expectations of winning against all the other great businesses that entered. When TELUS selected their final five and Cake & Loaf was one of them, Josie said they were shocked and honoured.

The pair traveled to Toronto to present with the other finalists and met entrepreneurs from across the country. “That in itself was a really meaningful experience and helped us focus our business goals and aspirations for Cake & Loaf,” Josie explained. After the trip to Toronto, Josie and Nicole received the exciting news that they were the winners of the 2016 Small Business Challenge. “Winning an award this big means that we have many more opportunities than we did before and we’re very excited to put it to good use.”

Since winning the Small Business Challenge, Josie explained that they had been cautious with the funds they won and have kept their projects fairly small. They did however, finally have the chance to throw their staff an amazing Christmas party that they had deserved for years but never had the budget for. The bakery also recently held a community event called Lights of Dundrun to raise money to help reunite a Syrian refugee family, and have been able to hire for an administrative position which has transformed how they run their business. “Having someone take care of the day-to-day admin details really frees you up to think big,” she said.

After five years in business, Josie and Nicole are ready to tackle the busy holiday season, and can only hope that 2017 will be an even more exciting year for the two of them and their business. Their biggest tip that they wanted to leave other entrepreneurs is: “Take time for yourself. Taking time for your family, your friends, your pets or whatever it is that grounds you is extremely important to being your best self.”

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada

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