Ed and Natasha Tatton are the dynamic husband and wife behind, BReD, a fixture in Whistler’s beautiful Creekside neighbourhood.
BReD is an artisanal bakery and café known for their 100% plant-based and vegan friendly treats. Sustainability is also a key part of the menu at BReD, with every coffee purchased resulting in a tree being planted. If that’s not enough, this powerhouse duo are working toward earning their B-Corp status.
We caught up with Ed and Natasha to learn about their journey from England to Whistler, how they’ve grown as entrepreneurs, and their experiences in taking part in the SBBC Awards.
Ed: I’ve been a chef working in kitchens since I was 13. I always had a passion for food, whether it’s eating food, cooking food – I think my love of bread just grew from there really.
Natasha: We moved to Whistler in 2013. It was supposed to be six months in Whistler, followed by six months in Montreal. Seven years later, we’re still in Whistler. It definitely captured our hearts and we wanted to live here longer term.
Ed: I brought my passion and experience of baking to the restaurant I was working at here in Whistler. I started the bread program at the restaurant and started making it on my days off to give to friends and the local yoga studio we were a part of. People would start smelling it and ask where they could buy it from.
We soon started talking and got the idea there was a demand for this kind of bread. I spoke to the restaurant and asked if I could rent space from them. They didn’t do lunch, so there was a window during the day I could bake and it wouldn’t impact upon their normal operations. It was all done through Facebook; I’d bake 30 loaves and sell them each week. It really just grew from there over the course of about 18 months.
Natasha: I saw Ed running around trying to manage all the sales and the baking so I jumped in and started helping. Initially, I was just stamping the bread bags and handling the customer side of things so Ed could bake. Then customers started asking us when we’d be opening a bread shop; they didn’t want to wait for the one day a week we were baking.
Luckily, we had a house we owned from when we lived in England. We sold it, and used the proceeds to invest in a retail space in Whistler Creekside and launch BReD. Ed and I are both vegan, so it was important that our business aligned with our values.
I manage the front of house and Ed manages the kitchen. We’ve carved out our own roles within the business and we work really well together. Thankfully!
Natasha: It was the community that asked us to open a bread shop. From the get-go, we could feel that community support and it’s so important to us that our customers know how much we appreciate them. We train our staff to always have this in mind, to say hello and make everyone who comes into our little bakery feel welcome.
We really want the customers to feel like they’re stepping home into a family environment when they visit BReD. Unfortunately, with how expensive square footage is here in Whistler, we aren’t able to have a huge space with tons of tables and chairs but we believe we’ve managed to create a sense of community and we love seeing our regulars.
Ed: We just snuck in there under the age criteria! It felt really great to get that recognition. We’ve put so much hard work into this business and getting that feedback has felt so satisfying. We also see it as a win for the vegan community. It shows other businesses they can follow in our footsteps, that a concept like this can be well received.
We’ve always been advocates that if the business is good enough, and the concept is good enough, people will support you. Sure, our products are vegan but they’re for everyone to enjoy.
We didn’t open a bakery to become millionaires. It’s sort of for the greater good. Three massively important things to us are how our bakery helps people, the planet and the animals. It always comes back to that trifecta when we make a decision. If it’s going to help all three of those points, then it’s a good decision.
Natasha: One thing we didn’t know when we started making sourdough and vegan baked goods was that some of the processes we were using were quite innovative. It turns out, all of the research and experimentation we did qualifies us for a scientific grant. This came up when someone heard about our SBBC Award win and alerted us to the grant, that we might qualify.
Winning the award has connected us with this grant we wouldn’t have even known we qualified for!
There’s been a lot of media opportunities, and it’s been so nice to put Whistler on the map for something unusual. One of my big hairy audacious goals (or BHAGs as I like to call them) is to grow Whistler’s reputation as a leader in sustainability and eco-tourism. Now that we’ve won this award, we can talk to certain people about this with more credibility and get the community together on some projects to help further that vision.
It’s given us a kick start and more credibility. It’s also helped us to believe in ourselves more. We practiced our pitch so many times and we were so nervous about it but the whole process was so fascinating and rewarding – I can’t recommend it enough.