- Sally Hinchliffe, 54, founded Yorkshire’s Bondgate Bakery back in 1984
- She was inspired to make bread without sugar, E numbers or any kind of nasties
- She won the BBC Food and Farming Award for Best Local Food Retailer in 2004
- Sally says her bakery supplies Harvey Nichols and cafe chain Filmore and Union
Sally Hinchliffe, 54, is the director of Yorkshire’s Bondgate Bakery. She lives in Otley, West Yorkshire, with her partner, Steve Taylor.
Growing up near Leeds, my dad was in the wool trade and did a lot of business in Italy. We’d go as a family — and that’s where my love of food came from.
I met my partner, Steve, when I was 19 and he was 24. Steve’s gran was a great baker — she passed on her skills to him from the days when everyone baked from scratch — and we still make her parkin and Yorkshire curd tart.
Steve and I love good bread but, back in 1984, when we launched, it was impossible to find. All you could get was stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth sliced white, full of additives. I thought: ‘Why does bread need to have sugar in it?’ Really, it was almost an old-fashioned interest in eating unadulterated food that kick-started the business.
That was our light bulb moment. We wanted to make bread without sugar: real food without E numbers or any kind of nasties.
We set up in a 17th-century building in Otley, a lovely market town near Leeds, where we still are now. In the early Eighties, people didn’t always understand what we were doing. Sourcing free-range eggs wasn’t easy and, when we put olives on our pizza slices, one customer thought they were grapes!
But business soon took off. Older customers loved our bread, saying: ‘It’s like my mum used to make.’
Not everyone can work with their partner, especially when you’re getting up in the night to get the bread started. We couldn’t do kids and the bakery. But we’ve had a great time working together.
In 2004, we won the BBC Food and Farming Award for Best Local Food Retailer. That put us on the map — the wholesale side exploded.
Then, about five years ago, Steve began getting cluster headaches. He wasn’t sleeping, so it became apparent he needed time off. Steve is bubbly, so it was quieter in the bakery. But I made it work. Now, I might work in the shop or upstairs doing the accounts. I’ve done the delivering. I’ve done everything!
We supply places such as Harvey Nichols and the cafe chain Filmore and Union, and are in talks with a supermarket. Suddenly, people understand what we’ve been doing all these years — that it does make a difference what you are eating.