Interview with Liz Wilson, founder of Ma Baker

Liz Wilson runs Ma Baker, an award winning micro bakery in the heart of Fulham. Liz bakes, sells and delivers real bread to the good people of SW6.

She also run a range of highly acclaimed bread courses which are listed as one of the top three classes in London by Trip Advisor. 

What’s your career background?

Originally from Australia, my background is in film marketing, working for both paramount and Universal Pictures.

How did your career change after having children?

After children I moved into working in education, in order to fit in with the kid’s holidays. I was a specialist reading teacher in Key Stage 1. I worked with children who were struggling to read, write and speak.

I loved it. I did a lot of cooking classes with the kids as it is a fun way of learning and I absolutely love cooking and creating.

Where did the idea for Ma Baker come from?

About six years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I took a bread class and absolutely fell in love with the stuff. I volunteered in bakeries, washed up in cooking schools, talked endlessly to bakers and I baked and baked, and I read and I took more classes and I baked some more.

I gave away my loaves to neighbours and friends until they said ‘Liz, stop giving it away, we will pay for it’. And they did. And then more people did. I went part time with my primary school job. And I baked some more. I started teaching bread and there is nothing like sharing something you are absolutely passionate about with others.

At the end of 2014, I started my full time bread adventure, and it has been the most surprising time of my life.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

By working incredibly hard. In a few years, I have taken Ma Baker from a standing to start to a thriving young business. I absolutely love what I do. My business makes people happy. Myself as well as my customers. 

The success of my business has been down to staying true to my values, the offering of a quality product, being sustainable and the  combination of excellent customer service, a creative marketing strategy, and a very good accountant

What’s your USP?

My USP is that my classes are all held in a domestic kitchen, are no bigger than five students, hands on and lots of fun.

All the breads and crackers that I deliver are all hand crafted using organic, ethically sourced, local ingredients where possible. They are made with no additives, flour enhancers or preservatives. They also taste delicious!

Who’s your target audience?

The good people of SW6 are the audience for my bread and cracker deliveries. For classes, it’s anyone who has a love of bread. I have had people from as far away as Australia and from 8 to 92 years of age.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

It is all through social media. I publish a lot of food porn! I also ask all my bread students if they can publish a review on Trip Advisor or my Google business page, which has been incredibly successful.

We are the No 1 for classes and workshops in London. A lot of people refer to this site before they make a booking. I have also garnered a lot of PR in national and local press.

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

Social media and getting people to taste my breads and crackers! Works every time! I also enter for awards as it is great way of receiving validity, reward and another opportunity for PR.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

It has been running the bakery from home and ensuring that I have enough time and space for my kids. My work life balance is much better now than when I first started.

And your proudest moment so far?

My proudest achievements include: growing the business so successfully in such a short space of time. Most recently it is being awarded a coveted 3 star Great Taste Award for my Buckwheat Crackers.

I have also been nominated for a Golden Fork Award, which means they are the best of the best! I have also been awarded over 20 World Bread Awards and have been listed as one of the Top 5 Bakers in London by the Real Bread Campaign. The only woman to do so. 

Why is work so important to you?

I absolutely love what I do. My business makes people happy. Myself as well as my customers.  

Who inspires you?

Other bakers that I have met on the way, particularly Ben Mackinnon from E5 Bakehouse and Jane Mason of Virtuous Bread. Both are trying to make the world a better place through bread. And, of course, my customers

How do you balance your work with your family?

With difficulty initially. Much better now. My kids are incredibly proud of what I have achieved in a very short space of time. And they love what I bake!

What are your three top pieces of advice?

Practice Practice Practice. Taste. Listen, read and learn. Make friends with an accountant! Be the best that you can be.

You can find out more about Ma Baker on their website.