Sea to Sky Sourdough BReD Inc.
100% plant-based, organic sourdough bakery nestled at the base of Whistler mountain - the only bakery in town that you can ski to.
In Business Since 2018
Best Community Impact
What motivated you to start your business and what core cause do you support?
In 2016, Ed rented the bistro’s kitchen (where he was sous chef) once a week to make bread for friends, who then told their friends, and before long, Ed had outgrown the equipment. The community were demanding that Ed open up a bakery. Natasha was vice president for Whistler’s environmental group AWARE, but was looking to make a bigger, positive impact, for the planet, animals and people too. She toyed with the idea of opening a vegan cafe as Natasha had worked as a raw, vegan chef for a summer in a cafe and been First Cook at Ski School in 2013, so had some kitchen experience. Thinking about the business landscape too, they did a lot of research into veganism and food trends. The growth of vegan products worldwide has been steadily increasing and is set to rise further. This is due to a mass of medical research indicating the dangers of over-consuming meat and dairy products (such as Cancer, diabetes and heart disease according to Dr T. Colin Campbell in The China Study) and the health benefits of plant-strong diets. This trend is also expected to continue since people under 36 years of age are three times more likely to be vegetarian or vegan, as reported in national newspapers. Whistler is a young demographic and has a thriving vegetarian community. Health-based organisations are pushing to actually eliminate dairy from the new Canada Food Guide and drastically reduce the recommended amount of meat. Not only this, but “reducing [your] environmental footprint, concern over animal welfare and the industrialization of agriculture” (Ibid.) are also important factors for people choosing plant-based diets. In Canada, the most noticeable increase has been right here in British Columbia. “In British Columbia, just over 8.5 percent of respondents said they have vegetarian diets while just under 4 percent are vegans. British Columbians were three times more likely to have plant-based diets than Canadians in the Prairies or Atlantic region”. Local coffee shops are asked for plant-based options every day. Everybody eats plants. There’s an ever-increasing number of vegan places in Vancouver (and all around the world). Most restaurants now have vegan options, cafes everywhere are serving up milk substitutes, and celebrities are endorsing veganism. The Tattons promote inclusiveness at the bread shop and attract all types of customer and do not put their ethical values on packaging, or in people’s faces, but just display “Everything is 100% plant-based”.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Community Impact award?
When all the other bakeries in town shut their doors, we found a way to carry on immediately. We were there for Whistler when they needed hope. And flour. We are a mission-led company in business for good. We want a world where people do not exploit animals for such arbitrary reasons such as taste and enjoyment. We promote a lifestyle that excludes, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of - and cruelty to - animals for the purposes of food, clothing or anything else. We also want a just world for humans. A world where resources are utilised in a sustainable way to ensure all current and future generations are provided for - a world where no one goes hungry. At the heart of the sustainability and food justice agenda is plant-based food production and consumption: veganism. Every time someone buys our offerings, they are making a better choice for the planet, people and the animals. They do not have to identify with the word "vegan". We were the first tenants to be part of the "revival" of Creekside village which had sat empty for years. Nobody used Franz Trail in Creekside until we opened up. It is wonderful to be an anchor to the revival of Creekside and the locals no longer ask us "How's business?" in a sarcastic "It won't work" tone. They can see that we have brought the hustle and bustle to their town, and maybe increased house prices too, since our bakery is often mentioned in local house sale listings! In a town dominated by big corporations and chains, it is hard to be the little guy running an independent operation. Being owner-operated is rare in Whistler, but we have a rapport with our customers - we know their names and a bit about their lives. Tourism Whistler saw this special community impact we have created and did a wonderful promotional video which encapsulates it. Our presence on social media/online is strong. We are consistent content creators that help put Whistler on the map as a vegan destination, and as a foodie/sourdough destination, so when someone in Europe is considering a ski holiday in the Alps or Canada, when international travel resumes, they will come to Whistler to see us. We don't see this level of online presence from any other small business in Whistler. More and more people are developing allergies these days, but having a free-from-animal (lactose, egg, etc.) kitchen provides safe options for allergy sufferers who would never be able to eat anything from a bakery for fear of contamination.
Best Immigrant Entrepreneur
Please tell us your personal story and about your business. How you started, and how you have overcome challenges.
Originally from Kent in the UK, Ed has always worked in fine dining kitchens around the world and has been making sourdough since 2008. Ed and Natasha moved to Canada in 2013 to snowboard for a season. They both worked in hospitality and Ed worked in farm-to-table restaurant Alta Bistro in Whistler, BC. While taking some shoulder-season leave and working on Vancouver Island farms in the summer of 2014, Ed started a sourdough culture that he took with him back to Alta Bistro and implemented a bread programme for the restaurant. Back in 2016, Ed rented the bistro’s kitchen once a week to make bread for his friends, who subsequently told their friends, and before long demand had increased to a point where Ed had outgrown the equipment. Ed had been running between two kitchens to use two separate ovens. The restaurant felt that Ed's side hustle was getting in the way of restaurant operations and gave him an ultimatum: become partners with them or give it up. That’s when Ed and his wife, Natasha, decided to team up and start planning to open an 100% plant-based organic sourdough bread shop in Creekside, Whistler. Natasha admired Ed’s dedication to making tasty artisan loaves and Ed knew that Natasha’s background as an English teacher and examiner, as well as a string of hospitality jobs over the years would come in useful for starting a food and beverage business. Neither Tatton had ever started a business before so they had to learn through templates and library books how to do market research and write a business plan, investigate lending options and apply for loans, and sold their UK home to provide capital. This gave them the drive to succeed but also created additional stress and high expectations of staff. The Tattons were matched with a mentor through Futurpreneur whom they often met with in the early stages of opening the shop to compensate for our lack of business experience, and became CFIB members (who provide many resources for business owners). Unfortunately, the mentor did not share their plant-based mission so they had to break ties with him soon after opening the bakery. Hiring contractors for areas they were not proficient in, such as bookkeeping, graphic design and web development, has prevented the Tattons from making mistakes and ensured they use their time wisely.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur award?
We demonstrated commitment by selling our home and taking out maximum loans available to us. Our debts will be repaid within five years of starting the business, and we will be looking further afield to open up more locations when that time comes. Our resilience in the face of the pandemic cannot be argued - while other more established businesses hunkered down, we found a way to give our community essentials such as flour and healthy bread, and more importantly, kept a human connection going, communicating regularly with our staff, customers and wider audience. Creekside Village was abandoned when we moved there, and we have be a key ingredient in reviving the forgotten Franz Trail to make it a bustling hub once again. Even on -20C wintery days, you will see a line-up that competes for the ski hill at the weekends. Customers have also stated that we have been crucial in maintaining a routine and their mental health through Covid-19, as you can read in our Google reviews. We embrace diversity - a core component of Canadian culture. Our work and life experiences in other countries has allowed us to create a vision of how we want the work to be, where it is going and helping to be part of a new sustainable economy which takes care other the people, planet and animals. We can see this movement growing in other parts of the world and industries and we are proud to be part of the movement here in Whistler. Indeed, we have participated in a focus group for socially-conscious entrepreneurs for Futurpreneur, due to our mandate to plant a tree in Africa for every coffee sold, helping impoverished farmers regenerate their degraded land, as well as supporting local and organic agriculture here in BC, fundraising for causes such as BC Animal Sanctuaries, providing donations for charity events, and as we grow our bottom line, the intention is to have a bigger impact for social and environmental causes. Having graduated from Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership "Sustainability Management" programme during the lockdown has helped us truly evaluate our supply chain and understand the importance of a circular economy and striving for zero food waste. Our business is underpinned by many SDGs and we are part of a movement which cannot be ignored and only embraced. We do not see any other bakery in BC offering this, and believe that our concept, our company and we ourselves deserve to win the title of Best Immigrant Entrepreneur.
What motivated you to start your business, what challenges did you overcome?
Back in 2016, Ed rented the bistro’s kitchen (where he worked as sous chef) once a week to make bread for his friends, who subsequently told their friends, and before long demand had increased to a point where Ed had outgrown the equipment. The community were demanding that Ed open up a bakery. The restaurant knew Ed and his wife Natasha had life savings to invest and offered him a partnership in their restaurant, with a view to opening a sandwich shop. However, Ed and Natasha had taken up a plant-based lifestyle, and felt uneasy about profiting from animal cruelty. Thinking about the business landscape too, Ed and Natasha did a lot of research into veganism and food trends. The growth of vegan products worldwide has been steadily increasing and is set to rise further. This is Everybody eats plants. The Tattons wish to promote inclusiveness at the bread shop and attract all types of customer and do not put their ethical values on packaging, or in people’s faces, but just display “Everything is 100% plant-based”. There’s an ever-increasing number of vegan places in Vancouver (and all around the world). Most restaurants now have vegan options, cafes everywhere are serving up milk substitutes, and celebrities are endorsing veganism. Finding a location with a lot of footfall is imperative for a B2C bakery, but rent in Whistler village is expensive and Creekside was a "dead zone" for many years, so it was a risk leasing a space there but the Tattons could see the potential. Testing the product first gave the Tattons the belief that people would travel to their bakery even if it was in the sleepy Creekside. Building a kitchen is expensive and the Tattons did not have enough personal money to complete the project so they had to seek funding with no collateral. Researching community venture lenders, learning how to write a business plan (literally by borrowing "Business Plans for Dummies" from the library!), getting rejected for a loan initially but demanding feedback and acting on it - getting another chance to apply. Having no business experience was another challenge we overcame by: Outsourcing areas of weakness such as bookkeeping, website design etc. to contractors meant the Tattons would not waste their time or make costly mistakes. Joining business networks, such as the Chamber of Commerce and CFIB, reading business books and listening to podcasts, attending in-person and online business events and networking with others.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Innovation award?
We are the only vegan bakery in the Sea to Sky Corridor, and we are recognised as pioneers in the baking industry. Most vegan products are deemed as sub-standard to traditional ones but we believe our vegan baking stands up to animal-based, if not actually better. Our credibility in this field is demonstrated by not only our large social media following but also our regular contributions to Pastry Arts Magazine - a quarterly publication, as well as being on their podcast, and invited to other baking-specific and vegan food podcasts - see our media page https://edsbred.com/media Most bakeries are heavily dependent on animal products, such as eggs and milk - most of which are sourced from factory farms. Factory farms have been hot spots for pandemics and it is more necessary than ever before for us to reduce our dependence on that type of industry, for the wellbeing of humanity, if nothing else. This is of importance more than ever, it goes without saying. Most bakers find it difficult to create great tasting free-from products, and we show them how. There is a lot of innovation going on in the plant-based and cell-based meat sector, but bakeries are often stuck in the past baking what they know, baking what they have always done, and the sooner we can inspire people to bake with plants instead, the better. Eating organically, locally-sourced and seasonally is crucial for the longevity of the food supply chain. Our menu and the information we share about our products helps raise awareness on the importance of this, so that there may be food available for future generations. It is unusual for a bakery to take a farm-to-table approach, but we show it can be done. More and more people are developing allergies, largely due to additives and fast-food processes. To address this, not only do we need to return to slow-food processes such as sourdough which results in a low-gluten bread, but we also need to provide kitchens which are free from contamination. We are proud to say our kitchen is animal-free and this opens up our space to people with various allergies and sensitivities, such as lactose and eggs.
Best Youth Entrepreneur
What motivated you to start your business and what is your vision for the future of your company?
Whistler welcomes immigrants and people from overseas but Ed and Natasha didn’t come to Canada with a view of becoming entrepreneurs. It was an organic opportunity that presented itself. Natasha was vice president for Whistler’s environmental group AWARE, but was looking to make a bigger, positive impact, for the planet, animals and people too. She toyed with the idea of opening a vegan cafe, having some hospitality experience. At the same time, Ed was on his own journey making bread for friends, which was a project that grew too large to be a side hustle, and it came to a point where the Tattons were able to team up and bring their two ideas together. The Tattons are both vegans, so can’t justify profiting from animal cruelty - it wouldn’t make sense to have a business that’s reliant on animal products, but they did business research and looked at the trends around the world and in places like Vancouver, and could see a lot more plant-based places opening up and thought it would be a good time to launch. Whistler has an amazing vegan community; the Facebook page has around 2000 members. We also get a lot of non-vegan customers who are interested in getting plant-based foods into their diet, so even though a lot of BReD's customers aren’t vegan, they love it anyway! The vision and mission of BReD is to bring epic, vegan baking to Canada and the world. So many bakeries use animal products and our main mission is to change people’s perception. With vegan baking, it can be tricky sometimes, and that’s what keeps it interesting. In the next couple of years, BReD intends on opening a Vancouver location as there is a lot of support from North and West Vancouverites who frequent Whistler. This would also enable BReD to collaborate with Vancouver's vegan business community - the Whistler location is a bit far and yet they have a lot of interest in partnerships with Vancouver businesses. The opportunities for social entrepreneurship are also greater in Vancouver - being able to donate food to the homeless is much easier, for example, and the Tattons are driven to have a business that serves as many people in the community as they can. This involves hiring and training staff to alleviate some of Ed and Natasha's current workload in Whistler, with a view to having a team who can operate BReD in the Tattons' absence. Gaining certifications, such as B-corp, are also important for us in the future, to maintain credibility with ever-more-conscious consumers.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Youth Entrepreneur award?
We took a big risk. We sold our house and went all in because we love our community and wanted to give Whistler what it was asking for. Commercial bread is often made with GMO flours and has baker's yeast added to speed up the process. Our bread is baker's yeast-free and slow-proofed, with a heavy emphasis on ancient grains which are not harvested with glyphosate, making it much healthier and easier to digest. All our grains are Canadian and for some of our baked items, we even house-mill the grains. Many people who are gluten-intolerant generally avoid bread but now we have those people buying our sourdough and telling us "It's the only bread I can eat!" and we love to hear that we are making a difference to people's lives. We support local mills and farmers and buy directly from them. We change our menu with the seasons to use what is fresh and has a minimal environmental footprint. Constant training of staff so that they can educate the public on the benefits of ancient grains and naturally-leavened sourdough has led to greater community awareness of its health benefits. Our kitchen is on full view to the public too because we want people to trust us, that there is nothing in our bread that shouldn't be there - they can come in and watch the whole process. Parents can teach children where their food comes from: see, hear, smell and taste it all in a sensory adventure. Everyone can see how clean we keep our premises and feel good about eating our bread. When you enter our shop, you know you are in a working bakery where everything is made in-house and made from scratch and baked fresh daily. Other bakeries buy stuff in frozen and heat it up to order but not us! We dedicate our lives to owning and operating a business because we are mission-led to do better by the people, planet and the animals. There will be no room for businesses who do not serve some aspect of sustainability at their core in the next decade or so. This is our firm belief that the one that helps us to get up and strive every day, even when told to stay home in a pandemic, we found a way to pivot. We demonstrated resilience and adaptability - crucial qualities that are necessary in an uncertain world. Against all the odds - opening in an expensive ski town, opening in a forgotten and underused area - Franz trail in Creekside we pulled it off! We brought people to Creekside and that also brings more customers to all the new businesses that have been opening up since we arrived.
Premier's People's Choice
We are passionate about baking healthy naturally-leavened sourdough, wholegrain and plant-based products from scratch and baked fresh daily, which look and taste great, and make every eating experience more satisfying. We want people to prefer our offerings over animal-based products because our objective is to make veganism an easily-adopted and widely-recognised approach to reducing human and animal suffering and environmental damage. We strive to create an atmosphere where we can attract, retain and motivate the brightest and most talented people in the industry; where employees can learn, grow, and innovate, while holding true to the roots of traditional baking. We educate our staff and the public about the importance of chemical free/additive free baking and where the food comes from. More importantly, we want a world where people do not exploit animals for such arbitrary reasons such as taste and enjoyment. We promote a lifestyle that excludes, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of - and cruelty to - animals for the purposes of food, clothing or anything else. We also want a just world for humans. A world where resources are utilised in a sustainable way to ensure all current and future generations are provided for - a world where no one goes hungry. At the heart of the sustainability and food justice agenda is plant-based food production and consumption: veganism. If you are not in business to serve the people, the planet or the animals, you shouldn't be in business. We truly believe that to our core. We get out of bed to ensure we are always doing our best and hope that we can inspire others to follow suit. Money is necessary to keep the machine running, but it is not the end goal. We hope the people see our passion and want a better world too, and reward us with this honour for doing the best that we can, one loaf at a time.