Spotlight on Saskia Roskam
How it started
In the winter of 2016, Lisa Shepherd and I set up a small bakery business called Bloom Bakers. It was initially created from a desire to share the sweet treat recipes from our home countries (Germany and the Netherlands), along the way it turned into a specialised online biscuit bakery.
Both Lisa and I are mothers and over the last five years, we’ve often drawn many parallels between running a business and parenthood. The same as you cannot describe what it's really like to become a parent; the awakening that comes with it. In that exact same way, you cannot really explain what it is like, what it takes, to build a business. And much like raising children, there's never a perfect time for it. The best piece of advice we can give to those who want to set up their own business is that all it requires from you is to want to give it your time; however much time you can spare. If you put your heart and soul into it, if you stay true to yourself, you are over halfway there to make it work.
What makes us keep going?
Running Bloom Bakers has mainly been about learning. With every step forward the business makes, we grow as people. It is a way of learning that we have not felt at any other point in our working lives. We are not just developing a business; we are developing ourselves. Which is a very interesting concept. We have come to understand that we embody our business. Our values, our beliefs, are all woven into the fabric of Bloom Bakers. And that is why in a partnership it is so incredibly important to work with someone whose foundations are similar to your own, to have a shared vision, to look in the same direction. It makes the process that much smoother.
We noticed first-hand that how you show up in the world matters. The way you communicate with people, be that over the phone, email on social media, matters. I think we have always been very conscious of this. We notice in our day-to-day interaction with customers that they appreciate this. They are aware of it. They pick up on it. They even comment on it. At the end of the day, whether it’s B2C or B2B, it is first and foremost human-to-human. And we love that about our job as we are interested in people and their stories.
Our product lends itself very well to opening up and communicating with people. As we are not producing an off-the-shelf product. We need people’s input to create very special, personalised biscuits to amplify brand messages or to be gifted to loved ones. We take those moments where we connect with people very seriously. We put a lot of time and effort into how we communicate with people to give them the best service. We let them know that we care about their message.
"It has allowed us to have a voice" Building our business has allowed us to have a voice, and in turn, find our voice. For that, we are eternally grateful. When you work for someone you operate in their playing field. When you start your own business, you create the framework and the culture around who you are as a person and it is truly a liberating experience. Don’t get us wrong, in the early days, it was very scary. Writing posts on social media, copy for the website, replying to emails was nerve racking at times. Because you have to put yourself out into the world and that is scary if you’ve never done it before. But over time you learn to find your voice and that is very empowering.
I'm made of the next point not the last
When we say ‘building a business’ then we hope people don't take that lightly. I recall seeing the 2012 Asics advert for the London games. They had slogans like:
I'm made of sweat, not swagger I'm made of the next point not the last I'm made of blazing trails not following paths I am made of all the days you don't see not just the one you do And even though this was four years before we were to dream up our business, these points have always hit home with me. And building a business is very much like it. The truth is that every achievement costs something. Be it money, energy, or time. Most likely a combination of all three. Going through that process can be a very solitary existence, as no one quite knows how much it takes out of you. How many decisions, actions, attempts, how much research, effort, plain graft is needed to get it off the ground. We recognise that as a duo we are so grateful for having each other to share this process with. Because together you are able to pick each other up. When one of you has a bad day, you reassure each other, you have each other’s back, you share the load, and you never feel alone. Most of the time, people don’t see that side of the story. And if they don’t run a business of their own, they can find it hard to relate to it. Some things in life you have to actually do to gain the understanding. Setting up and running a business is one of those things.
Saskia, thank you for telling us your story. To keep up to date with her and Bloom Bakers, connect with her on Linkedin. And follow Bloom Bakers on Instagram and Facebook. To read more inspirational stories like this, click here.