Nishon and Laura Yaghoobian, both 35, of Claymont, Del., own Wild Flour Bakery, a wholesale commercial bread and pastry bakery whose clients include restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. The Holmesburg company, which began in 2003, also sells breads and pastries at weekend farmers' markets in the city and Collingswood. Nishon oversees baking and Laura handles customer service, sales and payroll. I spoke with Laura.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the bakery?
A: Nishon worked in pastry shops at [now closed] Le Bec-Fin and Striped Bass, then went out on his own. We subleased space in South Philly from a friend who had a small wholesale bakery and moved to our present location in 2006. I had a full-time job as a financial analyst at BlackRock, but I helped nights and weekends with baking and paperwork. In July 2012, I left BlackRock to work here full time.
Q: How's the biz model work?
A: Wholesale commercial is our mainstay, and probably represents 100 percent of our business in the fall and winter and 60 percent the rest of the year. In the spring and summer, we get about 40 percent of our revenue from farmers' markets.
Q: What differentiates Wild Flour from other bakeries?
A: Customer service is very important, and when you get really big, I think you lose focus because you're worrying about other things. That's been instrumental in our growth because chefs move around but they'll remember us. Also, we can customize product, so if you're having a special event or running a special menu, and you want to do a breadstick, say, we're able to do that.
Q: What are the most popular products?
A: Challah burger rolls is our biggest wholesale seller, which we make in two sizes. At farmers' markets, our most requested items are oatmeal-raisin and chocolate-chip cookies. We make two sandwich breads in partnership with Yards Brewing and we have a bread that is made only with indigenous American grains.
Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the biz?
A: This is not a 9-to-5 or easy job. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you're going to be living here. A lot of bakeries use machines to roll everything, and people roll, cut and shape everything by hand that comes out of here.
Q: Who are your customers?
A: Our customer base is diverse but some of our best, longest and largest are Rouge, Honeygrow, Ritz Carlton, Bridgett Foy's, AntsPants Cafe and Passerro's Gourmet Coffee Co.
Q: How big a business is this?
A: We did about $500,000 last year and we'll probably do $600,000 this year.
Q: Where do you see Wild Flour headed in the future?
A: We'd like a retail storefront.
Q: How many employees?
A: Right now, we have 14. Five full time, the rest are part time.