Meet the producer: Step And Stone
Jane Kippax and Jane Chong run STEP AND STONE, a Bristol-based bakery and social enterprise employing young people with learning disabilities to make unique lavosh flatbreads.
1. What were you doing before you started the brand?
Jane Kippax worked in charity fundraising, marketing and research at The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and later at Ups and Downs Southwest – a Somerset-based support organisation for children and young people with Down’s syndrome and their families. After initially working for Nestlé in marketing research, Jane Chong had run her own interior design business in Malaysia for more than 15 years, before moving back to the UK.
2. Why did you decide to launch the brand?
We wanted to start a social enterprise in order to improve the awful employment prospects for people with learning disabilities. We are both parents to young people with Down’s syndrome and are aware of their great potential. We both love all things food. Jane Kippax discovered lavish flatbread while living in Australia for 10 years and so our bakery seemed a perfect opportunity to launch a delicious quality product new to the UK market – which could also demonstrate just how capable our young people are.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your time running the business?
You can do all the research and planning in the world but, in the end, you’ve just got to go for it. Follow your dream! We are lucky that our mission to showcase our young bakers’ capabilities and potential – and seeking to improve public perceptions – keeps us focused on making the best product we can.
4. What’s the best part about running a small business? Taking responsibility for the direction and ethos of the business and, for us as a social enterprise, being able to influence society for good. That’s such a privilege and feels so worthwhile.
5. …and the worst?
The workload. We are just so busy.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? The best piece of advice we’ve received is to have an “away day” now and then. We like to go and drink copious cups of coffee and peppermint tea in our favourite restaurant overlooking the Mendip Hills. It takes us away from the everyday pressing issues and allows us to take a breath, plan ahead and think more strategically. It’s so energising. The lunch is wonderful, too.
7. What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up their own food business?
Think carefully about your product. Is it different or better than what’s available already? Make it the best you can, work out how you are going
to communicate this point of difference and how you will distribute it. Research until you can research no more – then just jump in and go for it!
8. What’s next for the business?
We are going to introduce two new flavours of lavosh in 2020. One of these is close to launch and we’ll be entering that in Great Taste very soon. We will also continue to support our trainees into paid employment. We’ve seen seven successfully take up paid roles outside Step and Stone this year. It’s been amazing to see our young people thrive.
Read more of the latest news from Fine Food Digest here