It’s difficult to believe that the pandemic once saw supermarket shelves stripped bare, with an interesting choice of items hard to come by.
No, we’re not talking about toilet roll. The once well stocked baking aisle had that tumbleweed look, with the basics such as icing sugar and flour completely sold out.
With months of restrictions stretching ahead of us, hundreds if not thousands of people took to trying their hand at baking.
From TikTok trends to three course dinners, there’s worse ways to spend your time then pottering about in the kitchen.
But for mum of two, Amy Jo Ryan, her kitchen became her kingdom, and is now the basis for her fledgling business empire.
Little White Kitchen can be found at Amy Jo’s beautiful home in Banchory, where the former physiotherapist bakes an array of delicious treats.
From mouth watering brownies to sour dough and vanilla sponge, the business is already doing well.
So popular are Amy Jo’s creations, that she now has to operate a diary system for collection, so customers don’t miss out on her incredible mixed bake boxes.
From blondies to tray bakes, her creations look and clearly taste gorgeous.
Having launched earlier this year, Amy Jo took a break from baking to tell us why she has no regrets about embracing a new career path.
It’s lovely to meet you, tell us a bit about you?
Well, I’m 33 and I have two children. I did a science degree at university before I completed my masters in physiotherapy. I’m a physiotherapist by trade.
Wow, that’s a very different career choice to baking. What made you change paths?
Well I come from a family of physiotherapists, it was the career for both of my parents. I worked privately and I really loved it, but I took a career break to be at home with my children.
Something I’ve always loved to do is bake, I don’t really know where it came from.
How did you turn a hobby into a career?
I started to really enjoy baking again in the last few years, and then lockdown came along.
In the last lockdown for example, learning how to make sourdough became my project.
But I already had it in my mind that I was going to set up an informal baking business, only lockdown was a barrier.
Finally at Easter I took the plunge, I uploaded a few pictures of my bakes and decided to go for it.
I wanted to see what the response would be like, and whether people would buy my bakes. I’m pleased to say that I’ve taken orders every weekend and business has been steady.
I love the name, how did you come up with Little White Kitchen?
Well my house is quite minimalist downstairs, with a white kitchen. I thought Little White Kitchen really captured the idea. I bake in a little corner of my kitchen, it’s not perfect looking.
But I think that adds to the charm. My bakes are home made, I’m not claiming to be a professional baker by any means.
Is that part of the appeal?
I think so, my bakes can be a bit wonky here and there. I find that more appealing to eat then a perfectly presented cake, although there’s obviously a place for those kind of products.
I wanted to keep things humble and low key.
So how do you sell your delicious bakes?
I take a picture of what’s available and then put out a message on Instagram.
People get in touch and tell me whether they’d like a box. I sell bread as well as sweet options, which I pitch as a weekend treat.
I can deliver in Banchory for free, or people can come and collect.
I haven’t ventured into sending bakes via the mail just yet.
Brownies are always a hit and people seem to like my birthday cakes as well.
It must be a world away from your former career?
It’s funny as in some ways, it’s not so different after all.
I’m still meeting different people and I get to connect with the community, which I love.
It’s quite manual because you’re using your hands, which is what I did as a physiotherapist.
What do you love about your new venture?
I like the fact that it’s escapism. I put the kids to bed then get my kitchen clean and tidy, I find it very relaxing to just potter about.
You’re using your mind throughout the process, so it keeps me on my toes as well.
I love baking bread, that’s a new skill for me. The smell of freshly baked bread in the kitchen is amazing, and it doesn’t have to look perfect.
The more rustic the better.
Did you expect Little White Kitchen to be so successful?
Honestly, I felt it could go one way or another.
I wasn’t sure if no one would be interested, or I would be almost too busy.
Has lockdown impacted on your business?
Yes, in that the pandemic has changed the way people shop.
People are now much more keen to to buy from a local business, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by people’s kindness.
With everything shut, I think it gave home made bakes the opportunity to come through.
I haven’t done any official research, but embracing home made seems to be a vibe.
Who is in charge of product testing in your house?
Oh, that’s easy. I have two very willing taste testers thanks to my children. Getting them to taste things has never been a problem.
They are sometimes disappointed when I tell them that a cake isn’t for them, and I have to make sure they don’t get their wee hands on it.
What are your plans for the future?
Well I’m really happy with how everything has gone so far. I plan to take a wee bit of time off over the summer.
Once my daughter starts school, I’ll be able to be more flexible with requests, so watch this space.