Emma’s Bakery retail store a ‘dream come true’ for Ballarat baker

Pictures: Adam Trafford

Ballarat baker Emma Conroy is feeling like she is waiting for Christmas, counting down the sleeps until she realises her long-held dream of opening her own retail bakery.

Ms Conroy has grown her business Emma’s Bakery from a homemade cake stall at the Ballarat Market in 2015 to a commercial wholesale bakery and now to a retail store.

“It is a dream come true. This is as good as it gets,” she said speaking to The Courier about the retail venture.

“When I was an apprentice at 15 at a bakery in Daylesford, I thought I would love to have my own bakery. But life drags you in different directions.”

Ms Conroy completed two years of a baking apprenticeship at 15 as a way to convince her parents to allow her to leave school.

She quickly realised she loved the work, but then followed her passion and talent for horse riding and show jumping, living in Sydney and competing in Europe.

It is a dream come true. This is as good as it gets.

Emma Conroy, Emma’s Bakery

Read more at The Courier

After returning to Ballarat, Ms Conroy continued to work with horses at big name racing stables until having her first child.

She then started baking again as a way to help deal with postnatal depression and baked so much she gifted the treats to friends.

Ms Conroy then spent the next three years selling her baked goods at the Ballarat Showgrounds Sunday market and that led to development into a wholesale business.

“When I first started my market stall I thought maybe one day I could get a shop,” she said.

“It takes a lot of work. I have always dreamt of it but the last 12 months I have been very serious about it.”

Ms Conroy said she had managed financially to be able to open the shop, despite COVID-19 shaking up her business model from primarily supplying cafes to pivoting to home deliveries.

She is doubling her staff and production to prepare for the opening of her Alfredton bakery on Monday.

The venture has required hard work and determination, baking through the night with her team, then going into the office to prepare for the shop opening and hiring new staff, all while caring for her two children.

Ms Conroy said the team were excited about the new shop and she felt humbled to be able to hire new staff who were excited to be a part of the business.

She will have a team of 15 staff with the opening of the shop on Monday.

Emma’s is almost an all-female team, with many bakers mothers who are trying a new career.

It is also a family affair with her father, a former truck driver, working as a baker for the first time and her mother working as a manager.

“The whole team are there for the right reasons which makes it so enjoyable and you can strive for success with the team we have got,” she said.

A lot of work goes into striving for perfection, particularly with croissants and danishes being added to the product range for the new store.

Emma’s pies won two gold medals and six silver medals at Australia’s Best Pie And Pastie Competition in Sydney last year.

Ms Conroy said she hoped her new bakery would fill a gap in Ballarat in offering high quality, affordable products in an independent, locally owned shop with offerings for vegan and gluten free requirements.

Her passion is reflected in her reference to the shop as ‘she’ rather than ‘it’.

“I have been counting down the sleeps for months. She looks, beautiful. Everything’s falling into place,” she said.

“If you have got a dream and you are dedicated, just strive for it.. If you love what you do it is not work.

“It is unbelievable I can do what I do and love it like I do and be able to employ local mums or young girls for their first time jobs. It is a very humble feeling.”

Emma’s Bakery launches on Monday at 1769 Sturt Street, Alfredton from 6am and will open seven days a week.

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