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Q&A With Florets Founder Maya Handley

This week we treated ourselves to a breakfast out at Floret's new bakery in the heart of Grey Lynn. Floret's founder Maya Handley is a long time friend of Father Rabbit, and spoke to us about this exciting new location and gave us a look into the inspiration behind the Florets business. If you haven't had the pleasure of encountering them yet, Florets bakes incredible sourdough loaves using nutritious whole-grains grown in Canterbury. Their new Grey Lynn bakery not only is your new go-to location for fresh loaves, but also offers a delicious range of breakfast and lunch dishes as well as great coffee.  Can you tell us a bit about where your desire to launch florets began?

I wanted to set up a bakery where the focus was on locally grown whole grain flour and the craft of slow sourdough fermentation. To bake the type of bread I love making at home, that lasts well for the week and nourishes our family. Our process aims to bring out the beautiful flavour of organic Canterbury grown grain, and to bake bread that's easier to digest.What are your recommendations for new customers to try at Florets?

Our sourdough loaves are at the heart of what we do, so I always love when new customers try our bread and give us their feedback.What drew you to your new Bakery location in Grey Lynn?

We wanted an intimate space where we could share our baking process with our customers. We like the charm of this old building and that the staircase for seating leads customers up through the baking kitchen. Also we like being able to offer a really calm and private seating area for customers to relax and enjoy, our dining room reminded me of a few spots I used to love to retreat to for a coffee when I lived in New York.

If you had to describe the essence of Florets in three words, what would they be?

Wholegrain. Sustainable. Craft.What have been the unexpected highs and lows of setting up your business? 

We couldn't have asked for a more supportive community to bake for. We have been overwhelmed by the kind feedback and encouraging comments from our local customers. We weren't expecting people to be so appreciative to have a local bakery in this area of Grey Lynn - we feel really grateful for this support. 

The amount of work that our whole team has put into getting Florets up and running has been a little overwhelming at times. We have high standards in procuring the best local ingredients and making all of our food with great care, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy expanding our menu and product offering, but I underestimated just how much work it would be - we have felt pretty burnt out some weeks, which is not our goal -  but I do feel we are getting to the other side of that now. Where do you see Florets in five years? What is your vision for the company?

My vision is to continually improve our craft, so that our bread and offering is always getting better - and to create a sustainable structure, so that Florets is a rewarding place to work and continually providing highly nourishing and delicious food for our community. It is not my desire to build a large bakery but rather I am challenging myself to build a bakery that is financially viable while upholding my sustainability goals, which are: to pay all of our team at least the living wage, to support local and organic farmers by using their food and to limit our waste through conscious recycling and packaging choices. What have you had to sacrifice to set up the bakery?

The biggest sacrifice so far has been not having much time to spend with my family. What has been the most surprising part of your new venture?

How adaptable you need to be. I quite like knowing what my week will look like and being able to concentrate on one thing at a time - but I have learnt quickly that starting a small business requires flexibility and constant troubleshooting. This has been pretty challenging for me at times.

You can find Florets Bakery at 596 Great North Road, Grey Lynn. Or visit them online here to discover their sourdough delivery options.

Interested to hear more about Florets? Listen to Maya's interview with Radio New Zealand here.

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