Jane Mason, Founder of Virtuous Bread
Empowering ‘Bread Angels’ to set up their own micro bakery
My first job was in market research. I was exposed to the world of business, which I loved. After completing my MBA at London Business School, I became a strategist for an international bank and then went into consulting. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, I saw a lot of bad executive behaviour. It made me so anxious I couldn’t sleep.
At night, I’d get up and make bread – a skill I first learned from my German mum. I started giving it away to my neighbours, who thought I was a bread genius! I got a 100% positive affirmation 100% of the time. The community, health and confidence benefits were plain to see. At a time when so many people felt disconnected and were giving way to fear and anger, bread helped to forge positive relationships.
I wanted to do good, but I’m a realist. I needed to earn money, so I started selling to local shops and cafés. I soon realised I couldn’t change the world with bread on my own! I had to teach other people the skills I’d learned simply by rocking up in bakeries from Sweden to Africa. I needed to create and enable other entrepreneurs…
Over the last decade, 250 people have completed my three-day ‘Bread Angels’ course and learned how to set up a micro-bakery. It covers everything from process and ingredients to marketing and sales, as well as the logistics and admin involved in running a small business. Aftercare is provided and access to our entire network is available through a subscription.
From America to Australia, at any one time, 150 ‘Bread Angels’ are active around the world. Some, like Lucie Steel, have set up their own High Street bakeries; others focus on teaching. My mantra is: “When the water comes in the river, all the boats float.” I raise awareness to keep those boats floating!
To balance my activities and use all my skills, I’ve returned to consulting part time. I employ people to work for Virtuous Bread – doing some of the things I used to do.
Everything has led me to this point – enabling others to dream of having a business and making it a success.