Passionate Pursuits of a Gap Year Intern

By Kaila H. Johnson

There are times in life when exploration is at our fingertips. When our identity is being grasped and moulded all at the same time. Where questions outweigh the answers, and the quest for understanding and foundational formations are sought. These moments are cherished—and sometimes dreaded—as the inner workings of life unfold before our very eyes. These were the moments that led Jess to a Gap Year Internship with us at Luminary Bakery. 

As school came to completion for Jess, uncertainty about committing to a specific study was at the forefront of her mind. As friends prepared for University, and what seemed like certainty was for the taking, her loved ones suggested to take a year for exploration. It wasn’t until she started following Benjamina—blogger, baker, food stylist, and Luminary Ambassador—on Instagram that her passion for baking and heart for people began to align. Jess quickly jumped at the opportunity and started to research more about Luminary Bakery. 

After some hesitation, she mustered up the courage to email them not only her CV, but her portfolio and baking background! To Jess’ amazement, they responded ecstatically with interest. After the usual interview and assessments, Jess joined the Luminary family as our Gap Year Intern in Autumn 2018!

When Jess was asked about the impact Luminary has been during this Gap Year Internship, her response speaks volumes about this fierce generation rising up, 

“Luminary encouraged me in both my passion for food and bettering the world around me—training me up with new skills. 

They enabled me to realise the part I want to play in ending world hunger, as well as writing programs [food hygiene programs] for people who don’t speak English as their first language—to rewrite them with less complex wording.”

Jess’ heart for encouragement and joy-filled persona has been infectious during her internship here as she’s mastered the art of crafting the perfect flat white in our cafe, tested and decorated our Easter Parsnip & Orange Cake, and courageously assisted and taught in our training programmes. These sincere qualities will remain within the walls of Luminary, well beyond her sad departure next month. 

As she looks towards beginning Food Science and Nutrition at University, her hope has always been and will continue to be that each woman that comes through the doors of Luminary truly believes in themselves.

“Luminary has been a safe place—to wobble and make mistakes! We build each other up and share the load.”

From uncertainty to passionate pursuits, this has been a Behind-The-Scenes Moment with Luminary’s harmonious Gap Year Intern, Jess!

10 QUESTIONS WITH JESS:

  1. Favourite Luminary baked good?: “It’s got to be the Carrot Cake… every time!”

  2. A surprising fact?: "I wanted to be a dolphin trainer.”

  3. Guilty pleasure?: “The TV program, Anne of Green Gables.”

  4. Favourite place you’ve traveled?: “Portugal”

  5. What makes you laugh the most?: “My sister.”

  6. If you could have coffee with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?: "Mary Berry!”

  7. Current favourite music?: “George Ezra.”

  8. Go-to Karaoke music?: “High School Musical… I absolutely loved it!”

  9. Puppy or kitten?: “Puppy.”

  10. Sky dive or bungie jump?: “Skydive!”

  11. Beach or city?: “Hmmm… beach.”

To learn more about Luminary Bakery’s Gap Year Internship program, click here.

Follow more of Jess’ baking story on social media: @baking.beans.

7f94bb13-f884-4264-bedd-d1c6c8fd8295.jpg

Kaila has the honour of helping Luminary Bakery put words to the amazing stories taking place throughout this inspiring social enterprise. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the world of art, trying out new nutritional recipes, or savouring a locally roasted cup of coffee. Stay connected through her blog www.freshpagenewchapter.blogspot.com or Instagram @kailahjohnson.

Balance in Restoration

International Women’s Day 2019

By Kaila H. Johnson

In a trending world seeking balance - whether fitness and health, body and image, or poverty and affluence - determination to find harmony is on the tip of why days like today matter. A day to refocus. A day to feature. A day to remember those of Perseverance Past, Perseverance Present, and Perseverance Future. A day to #balanceforbetter.

International Women’s Day comes to us at Luminary Bakery with a force - a force of hope, resilience, belief, and above all else, restoration. It’s days like today that fan the creative and ardent flame within, as our bakery turns into a fierce artisan replicator of Sticky Toffee cakes, fluffy cinnamon swirls, and endless gooey traybakes. At the forefront, our bakers are continually busy learning, creating and embarking on luscious treats of influence, but in the background, there is much at work. Each moving part of Luminary - whether baker, operations, trainee, graduate, or apprentice - balances the heart that makes up this social enterprise.

Full team ambassadors for print.jpg

Behind the scenes, beating to the tune of restorative balance, are women who carry on the baton from those of Perseverance Past. Each day is a battle for balance, yet at the same time, is a celebration of pliancy. Upon reflecting on why Alice, Luminary’s Founder, chose to begin such a life-giving business, she said,

“Meeting women who were experiencing violence and disadvantage because of their gender, meant I couldn’t ignore the inequality. Those of us with more privilege should feel challenged to use our position to advocate for others. When previously disadvantaged women are given a chance, they really can thrive - these are the opportunities Luminary creates and champions!”

As the heartbeat in the background continues, Esme, Luminary’s Progression Support Worker, passionately states the societal need for balance,

“We currently live in a society that defines individuals worth by their social circumstances. I believe that we are not defined by these past experiences, but rather by our unique talents, insights, and beliefs. Luminary promotes this individuality and facilitates a second chance for women who want to grow.”

Though tensions rise against such thoughts, the baton continues to be passed from one woman to the next. Rising hope with each pass, from disadvantage to opportunity to affluence. Balance continues its work of restoration. As Allison, Head of Sales and Operations, passionately celebrates,

“I know the work I do extends beyond selling delicious baked goods. It reaches to doing real good in the lives of wonderful women in my community. … here at Luminary [we] bear witness to hope every day!”

#betterforbalance increases hope! It takes into consideration history - those of Perseverance Past - and matches it with our current community - those of Perseverance Present - so we can create a culture of hope for those of Perseverance Future. A future of balance. A second chance for harmony. As Rachael, Luminary’s Commerical Director, summarises beautifully,

“I believe business can be used as a powerful force for social change. Giving someone a job, surrounding them in a safe environment, placing them in a culture that is kind, training and empowering them to reach their potential. These are all things that any business can do, and what Luminary is passionate about doing day in and day out.”

These are just some of the women of Luminary’s Perseverance Present, passionately fanning into the flame of balance for restoration - #balanceforbetter. In seeing someone’s potential, rather than past, a second chance is given. A second chance for hope. A second chance for balance. A second chance for restoration.

Luminary exists to rise hope. To embrace worth. To honour determination. And to establish balance in restoration. There is an abundance of strong, fiery, and ingenious women behind the scenes of this haven - whether baker, operations, trainee, graduate, or apprentice. They all play their part in balancing the heart that makes up days like this. A day to refocus. A day to feature. A day to remember. A day to #balanceforbetter.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Kaila helps Luminary with communications and as a freelance writer - bringing words to the experiences and stories being shared. When she’s not writing, you can find her sipping an intricately made cup of coffee, exploring the world of art, or trying out new nutritional recipes.

How Baking Can Empower and Improve General Well Being

Guest blog from Jane Sandwood

At the Luminary Bakery in London, women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the opportunity to turn their lives around by learning and working in a professional and safe environment.  By offering a variety of courses and work experience as well as paid, formal employment within the bakery, women are being emboldened to realise their own dreams as longstanding cycles of poverty, prostitution, criminal activity and abuse are broken. A new year brings with it new possibilities and for the disadvantaged women in the greater London area, the empowerment offered by the Luminary Bakery can literally be life-changing.

Teaching a woman to bake and nurturing a subsequent passion for it provides her with far more than a skill set that can provide financial independence. Social initiatives designed to provide social and economically disadvantaged women with the chance to forge a better future for themselves through baking are empowering the fairer sex to not only build careers for themselves but to become well-rounded, happy individuals that can contribute positively to their communities.  While you can shape a lucrative career for yourself within the bakery industry the therapeutic advantage of baking can benefit you in an immense way as well.

Baking promotes self-expression and communication

Baking allows individuals to creatively express themselves.  Stress is related to a host of physical and mental problems and finding ways to cope with such stress in vital for leading a happy and healthy lifestyle.  Baking can also have the added benefit of helping one communicate one’s feelings, especially when baking for someone else. It can be very helpful especially for people who have experienced hardships and who battle to express their feelings to do so with baked goods. In many cultures, food is seen as an expression of love which is very profound as it is something we can all relate to. Baking helps us to expand our tastes and introduce us to new flavour experiences.

Baking is a form of mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness and meditation have become very well-known and include a reduction in stress and increased happiness. Baking requires a lot of attention while you focus on weighing, measuring and following the recipe. As long as you are focusing on taste and smell and are present in the moment of creation, the act of mindfulness in the current moment can result in even further stress reduction. Culinary therapy, including baking, right alongside art therapy often form part of behavioral therapies in treatment facilities that deal with everything from addiction to post-traumatic stress disorders. To ring in the new year, whipping up a batch of the UK’s favourite cakes and biscuits can prove to be a much-needed stress reliever after the often trying festive period.

Baking for others is a form of altruism

At the very heart of baking are the acts of creation and giving. Baking for others, whether as a gift or as part of your career, makes you feel like you have accomplished something good and contributes to your sense of well-being. Whipping up a batch of baked goods with the intention of gifting them is seen as a form of altruism, a sacrifice you are making for someone else.  Baking holds great symbolic meaning and has an impact on both your physical and emotional wellbeing.

The art of baking can benefit anyone in a variety of ways. Not only will you experience a sense of self-accomplishment when you see, and taste, the finished product but you will continuously improve your skills and enjoy an increased sense of well-being while creating delectable goods in the kitchen. 2018 has all the potential needed to be a positive and fulfilling year and what better way to spread love and prosperity than by indulging in the art of baking.

 

 

Jane is a freelance writer and editor. She has written for both digital and print across a wide variety of fields. Her main interest is exploring how people can improve their health and well being in their everyday life. And when she isn't writing, Jane can often be found with her nose in a good book, at the gym or just spending quality time with her family.

Being a Baker

  This afternoon, I had the pleasure of talking to Aine, one of our main bakers here at Luminary Bakery. After her time as an on-going volunteer throughout last year, she returned at the beginning of this year as a full-time staff member. Since then, she has loved being part of the Luminary team, experiencing the journey and witnessing firsthand the amazing work going on inside and out of the kitchen.

When asked what she enjoyed most about her role at the bakery, Aine expressed her love for working with the women training in the course. She takes joy in building relationships with them, laughing and learning alongside them, and watching their confidence grow week by week. Additionally, she loves trying new flavour combinations and experimenting with different, wonderful ingredients. She sees Luminary as a team of women equally passionate about food as well as people, a team built on support for each other that not only has fun but works together extremely well.

When it comes to advice to newcomers, Aine says that baking can be intimidating but it all depends on self confidence. “Trust yourself,”  she told me.“You can’t be afraid to make mistakes and take risks.” In terms of support within the team, Aine treasures the amazing management teams but also loves how everyone offers something different. Each person has their own strengths and creative ideas.

Aine is excited for Luminary’s upcoming transition to Stoke Newington and overall development for the organization. She aspires to help more women, impact more lives and watch the charity side grow in a brand new space. “The women are the reason we got this far. It’ll be such an achievement to get to that point,” she said. “I’m grateful to be a part of it all and excited for the future.”

Celebrating Cupcake Day for Alzheimer’s Society at Luminary Bakery

Alzheimer’s Society and their mission is something that is very close to my heart and I’m  grateful for the chance to get involved in Cupcake Day and bring a personal connection to my achievements at work. Alzheimer’s runs in my family and I’ve personally experienced the toll it takes on someone's life and all that it can rob them of. It is a truly heartbreaking disease and if all it takes is a cupcake and good will to help make a difference in the lives of sufferers I’m more than happy to be on board.  

 

When I was asked to create a signature cupcake to add to our bakeries new wholesale menu, I couldn't have been more excited. Apart from loving cake in its every form, being given the chance to spotlight my creative abilities at work was a joy. Allowing an intern such freedom and independance really showcases the Luminary Bakery spirit. It truly is a supportive and encouraging environment that enables all members of the team to reach their true potential.

I knew I wanted to create something more than just an average cupcake, something modern yet reminiscent of childhood flavours. I tested numerous sponges and frostings until finally landing on a Chocolate Rye Cupcake with a Honey Orange Cream Cheese Frosting. The light as air dark chocolate sponge is complimented by the earthy notes of the rye flour and the tangy cream cheese frosting is sweetened with a syrup made from honey and orange peels, making the perfect floral citrus combination. Right away it was clear the cupcake fit with the image and spirit of Luminary and happily found a spot amongst all of our other wonderful products.

To help us make a difference, follow along on the hash tag #cupcakeday, indulge in a few sweet treats, and check out the link below to find out how to host your own party!

https://cupcakeday.alzheimers.org.uk/home?utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=Blog&utm_content=luminarybakery&utm_campaign=CupcakeDay2016  

My Time At Luminary

Of all the things I thought I’d accomplish in my six months at a ramshackle kitchen in East London, I didn’t think finding the sturdiest community of my life would be on the list. I come home from work everyday with flour caked in my pores, my back aching, and an eagerness to go back tomorrow and do it all over again.

I get into work everyday and we bake. We talk, in great depth, about what we made for dinner last night. We tell embarrassing stories of being teen girls. We drop quiches and start all over again at 4:45pm. We dance to Beyonce. The days are long and there can be tears. Sometimes they’re mine. Through the familiar motions of rolling pastry and browning butter, I’ve learnt of the worlds and lives of women I would have never encountered otherwise. I’m a better person for it. Through the strength and courage of these women I’m inspired and empowered to try harder, not just in the kitchen but in every facet of myself. I can always find an extra inch within me to give. Chocolate brings down barriers.

I came to Luminary with my guard fully up. I wanted to get bakery experience and hone my skills, never one for vulnerability. Five months in and I can’t remember where I left my guard. The community here is always in flux. Growing and changing with the quirks each member brings with them and the impact they make. Goodbyes aren’t easy but no one ever truly says goodbye here, the blessing of a growing and changing space is the safety of knowing you always have a place. In my more morose moments I find myself wondering what the Kate shaped hole here will look like. Probably a little wonky, wearing precious dresses not fit for a kitchen, and with a fair helping of perhaps ill timed brash wit. But what I do hope is that that hole, or at least part of it, is filled by the next wide eyed young woman with a chip on her shoulder who isn’t prepared for how much better her life is going to get.   

 

“Luminary’s the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” she concluded. “It gave me hope in humanity again.”

 This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to one of Luminary’s apprentices, currently one month into her six-month long apprenticeship in the bakery. During our team reflection time earlier today, she expressed her thankfulness for the abundance of love she has around her, which excited me to learn more about her experiences and incredible positivity.

    She began her journey with Luminary about a year ago as part of the course, which she said has flown by extremely fast. Looking back over the past 12 months, she described her amazement at how much the organisation has grown and transformed as well as her inspiration by everything Luminary has achieved in such a short time. Transitioning from being part of the women’s course to becoming a part-time apprentice has been rather a challenge for her but having volunteered in the kitchen every so often has helped her prepare for her role now. She expressed to me that no matter her role, she has always felt part of the Luminary family.

    When I questioned what she enjoyed most about being part of the team, she shared her love for Luminary’s continuous innovation and space to challenge oneself. She told me that for years she’s been looking for an environment to discover her creative self and has found it in Luminary. “Self-motivated or not, I can always be here,” she said to me, “I can be myself in an inspiring, supportive place. It all works beautifully.” If she could talk to a woman just beginning the course with Luminary about her experiences she would say, “Get ready to be embraced. Get ready to be challenged. Take the time to dig deep to uncover the creative you. Trust the environment that it will impact you and bring out the best of your expressive self.”

 

    As an apprentice of the bakery, she would love to continue to grow in confidence and creative experimentation. She takes joy in discovering interesting flavour combinations, such as chocolate and chili, but also adores making Luminary’s famous apple blondies and brownies. She is thankful for the endless support and encouragement from Ellie, our business manager, Aine, one of our full-time bakers and Alice, founder of Luminary. She conveyed how grateful she is for them always having time for her and continuously giving love and guidance throughout her time in the bakery as though they were her sisters. .

    To wrap up, I asked her what aspirations she might have for the future of Luminary. She shared her vision to open multiple bakeries, each as unique in quality and dedication as the first, simply on a larger scale and therefore able to grow organically as one influential organisation. She’d like to impact people all over by sharing Luminary’s story through our detailed, visionary handbook. “Luminary’s the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” she concluded. “It gave me hope in humanity again.”

Our Crowdfunding Campaign!

With just 10 days left to reach £15,000 for our new premises in Stoke Newington, it’s full steam ahead for the everyone at the bakery. For several weeks now, the Luminary team has been fully committed to spreading the word about our crowdfunding goal and collecting pledges from anyone willing to donate to our cause. As a thank you for the kind generosity, we are offering rewards to our pledgers according to what they give. Such rewards include free baked goods for pledging £10 or more, high tea for 2 for pledging £50, bread-making master classes for £75 and so much more.

Our incredible kick starter film, featured on our website homepage, was created specifically to show potential pledgers an inside look at Luminary life, shared stories from some of the women who have been part of the course, and a sneak peak at the new premises and its guaranteed ability to empower twice the number of women we can now. Beautifully enlightening, this video gives a wonderful insight into the powerful foundation of the bakery and what the world can expect in months to come. Check it out here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/luminary-bakery

Last Tuesday was International Women’s Day and as an amazing gift to all of us, Time Out chose to feature Luminary Bakery in their weekly magazine as well as construct an online article to deeper inform readers about what we do as a social enterprise as well as our current fundraiser for Stoke Newington. Fortunately, this blessing helped boost our efforts to reach out to others and gain pledgers. As an ever-expanding organization, we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to be promoted by such a prominent magazine.

Having raised just over £8000 as of today, we still have a significant amount to raise by March 22nd. Please continue to share our video or visit our homepage for more information about the story and impact of Luminary Bakery. Together we can make this dream a reality. Thank you.



It’s been a while. We’ve been busy. Busier than Kahaila on a Sunday. Yeah that busy.But we don’t need to tell you that - by purely looking at the lack of blog posts recently you’ve probably guessed just how much has been going on here. Oh you detective you…

However, we’re back. We’ve picked ourselves up, dusted the flour off our camera and got back on this blogging horse. Oooh the excitement!

On that note, we do have some super exciting news for you.After months and months of dreaming, praying and planning, on 19th September we held the first session of our baking course for vulnerable women. AND it went SO well.

‘Wait, baking course?’ Let’s fill you in...

We produce high quality baked goods for non-profit, you know that. But alongside this, the main focus of Luminary Bakery is to give opportunities and purpose to vulnerable women through training, employment and community. We want to see all women in East London provided with an opportunity to leave their vulnerable situations and be released into a positive future. That’s the dream.

At present this materializes as a sixth month baking training course teaching these groups of women everything they will need to obtain a job in a bakery or other food establishment, long-term giving them a stable and alternative source of income. We want them to grow holistically – encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances as well as giving them a trade to call their own.

So three weeks ago we welcomed 4 (soon to be 6) of these women into our bakery for the first time. After an afternoon of name learning/friendship building/ boundary setting/health and safety briefing/yogurt parfait making we could already see the difference this course could make to these women. It’s such a privilege for us to be able to be a part of this process alongside them.

We’re excited for what the future holds and hope you’re up for journeying with us.

R xo