Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: Heyl Bakery
Plymouth’s first 100% plant-based sourdough bakery, Heyl Bakery, was launched in the tumultuous year of 2020 by co-founders Sam and Kate.
On the eve of their official opening at Alma Yard, we decided to catch up with Heyl to find out more about their journey to this point, as well as what they've got in the pipeline for Plymouth and our Alma Yard community…
First of all, can you tell us a bit about Heyl Bakery’s brand ethos and what inspired you to start up your business in the first place?
Heyl is all about celebrating locally and sustainably grown ingredients - from the grain in our bread to the berries in our bostock. We use a blend of locally-milled, stoneground flours - including some fantastic heritage grains - to produce our sourdough loaves and sweet buns, making the most of the slow fermentation process to maximise flavour and character. We also use organic products where possible and everything is vegan-friendly to reflect our commitment to sustainability and ethical eating.
We've both been passionate about food for as long as we can remember, and had long talked about setting up a bakery or food business of our own. But it was the events of 2020, combined with an opportunity to use an existing bakery space for an entire year for free thanks to the Real Idea Organisation's Start Something scheme, that provided the catalyst to get Heyl Bakery off the ground.
Having only launched Heyl in 2020, what’s your journey been like up to this point?
The last year and a half has been a real rollercoaster. When we first launched in December 2020, Britain had just entered another lockdown, so in a way we started at the worst possible time! But this actually worked in our favour, allowing us to find our feet and start to build a following slowly, so that we could grow at a comfortable, sustainable rate, with room to make mistakes, learn and adapt.
At every stage of this growth, we've been really amazed by the enthusiasm and support we have received from our customers and the business community in the area. This has helped to give us the confidence to take this next big step and open a shop of our own.
What are you most looking forward to about joining the Alma Yard community?
We are really excited by the opportunity to work alongside so many other independent creative businesses. Even in the short time we've been here, we've gotten to know some really wonderful, talented people and had some great conversations, learning about each other's work and background.
We also just love the architecture - all the buildings have been renovated in such a sympathetic way, and there is so much natural light, you can't help but feel inspired and at home.
You recently managed to raise money for a new oven via a hugely successful crowd-funder. How does it feel to be supported by the local community in this way?
We um-ed and ah-ed about going ahead with the Crowdfunder at first - while we knew that we had quite a small but loyal following for our markets and bread collections, we weren't sure whether we would be able to generate enough support to raise £15,000.
We were eventually persuaded to go for it, and were absolutely blown away by people's response. We would never have predicted we'd raise the money so quickly, and we've been really touched by some of the comments and messages we received from backers. We can't wait to show them what they've helped us build!
How are you planning to adapt and make full use of your space at Alma?
We've already managed to fill the space in our studio with all sorts of bakery equipment, but we've made the decision to keep it open plan, so that key features like the old chimney breast and all the beams and girders are on show - it's features like this that made us fall in love with the space in the first place.
At the moment, we are only offering a takeaway service, but we hope to have some outdoor seating in the near future, and eventually use the space to run bread-making classes.
What can we expect from your official opening to the public on the 21st May?
We will be serving up a variety of sourdough breads fresh from the new oven, including our standard Heyl loaf, focaccia, baguettes, rye tin loaves and rolls, as well as sweet sourdough cinnamon buns, cookies, cakes and savoury topped flatbreads.
Alongside this we'll also be serving delicious, speciality small batch filter coffee, organic teas and soft drinks, as well as selling a selection of hand-picked larder items, including olive oil, chilli sauces, pasta and chocolate.
Make sure to RSVP to Alma Yard's debut Open Studios in conjunction with Heyl Bakery's official launch.
If you're interested in joining the Alma Yard community, click here to view our available studios.