In Full Bloom
By combining the power of creating jobs through meaningful employment with a passion for creating artisan baked goods, Bloom Bakery proves an exceptional model of social enterprise. Bloom celebrated its one-year anniversary in March, and as testimony to the heart of its success, the venture not only showcased an amazing array of delicious baked goods but also paid tribute to its workforce of individuals with criminal or other disadvantaged backgrounds.
Bloom Bakery is part of the nonprofit Towards Employment, whose mission empowers individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by giving people in the criminal justice system and others with barriers to employment a second chance.
A four-week training program with Towards Employment offers candidates valuable social, job, and customer service skills. Bloom carries on by teaching professional baking skills and advancement in a career path with a living wage. Additional stability is provided through supportive services such as transportation, housing, childcare, equipment, and uniforms to ensure a smooth transitional process. The integration of social responsibility into the operation is evident throughout.
“I had the privilege of overseeing this year of enormous growth from start to finish,” said Logan Fahey, co-founder and general manager. “Helping to take Bloom Bakery from an idea to a fully functional reality is a true statement to the power of an amazing team and mission.”
With a background in the nonprofit sector and working with incarcerated youth prior to joining Bloom, “I never even thought I would find myself in a retail kitchen,” Fahey said. The business is flourishing with his passion and extraordinary energy. You will find Fahey at the bakery six days a week starting at 6am each morning.
Beginning by training more than 15 Towards Employment graduates, today a majority of them still are working at Bloom with full-time schedules and benefits. Others are placed in jobs and internships in partnering businesses and the hospitality industry.
“The team includes two of our most important leaders, Ellen and Karla, who began their Bloom Bakery careers as shift supervisors after graduating from Towards Employment,” said Fahey, noting that both Ellen Bruno and Karla Seese oversee the bakery as retail director and executive head baker, respectively. “Not only have these women been involved in developing and running Bloom Bakery from the ground up, but also are emblematic of how Bloom Bakery’s mission is changing employees’ lives by giving them the opportunity to nurture their careers.”
Along with Fahey, internationally renowned artisan bakery specialist and worldwide consultant Maurice Chaplais is a key factor in the high quality and consistency of Bloom’s handcrafted products. With a hands-on approach, Chaplais loves to be covered in flour. “This is slow food at its best, with yeast doughs taking up to three days from start to finish,” Chaplais said.
Not one to manage from afar, Chaplais traveled from England to Cleveland three times during the year to mentor, guide, and meticulously train interns in the nuances of the fine art of the artisan baking process. He shares his own yeast culture and authentic time-honored recipes and utilizes local products as much as possible.
Fahey and Chaplais have collaborated on each facet of the operation, from production to kitchen design and equipment.
The day we visited, hot cross buns were baking. The fragrant raisin and citron-studded dough was formed, proofed, and given its namesake embellishment of short pastry cruciform shapes. Fresh from the oven, the seasonal delicacies were brushed with a milk and sugar glaze. Not a single detail is overlooked.
With addresses at 200 Public Square and at 1938 Euclid Ave. in the Campus District, the bustling locations are urban assets thriving due to a hungry business and student clientele.
Offering up pizza, hearty sandwiches on bap rolls, homemade soups and salads, a variety of savory and sweet pastries, and some of the best granola anywhere is no small feat when everything is made from scratch. The open-kitchen concept at the Euclid location affords customers the opportunity to observe employees making the doughnuts.
Fahey looks forward to 2017, with increased production and adding more catering opportunities and community projects. “Creating jobs is our secret ingredient, and that means steadily growing and creating successful ventures that increase employment,” Fahey said.
— Story and photos by Pamela Rhoads. Photos also provided courtesy of Bloom Bakery.