The next business I had the pleasure of stopping into for the Salem Business Spotlight is Jodi Bee Bakes. This is a really cute bakery/cafe that is vegan and gluten free.
Jodi Bradbury, the owner, was super sweet and it was a pleasure hanging out for a bit and taking pictures. If you’re in the area, I highly suggest stopping in (particularly on a Sunday when they are serving made-to-order waffles that are absolutely delicious. See pic below!).
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop.
“Growing up in an Italian family, food played an important role in my life but it wasn’t until I was 25 and had finished my undergraduate degree that I decided to go to culinary art school. Even after school, my career and education took a lot of twists and turns (I earned my MFA in Creative Writing, and worked for many years in higher education and then as a Project Manager in IT) before I returned to my love of cooking and decided to open the bakery.”
What was the inspiration for opening the shop?
“I always believed that someday I would return to my love of food but my focus had always been on savory food, so I was surprised when in the winter of 2012, I woke up one day with an urge to bake that didn’t seem to be going away. Finally, in April of 2013, I decided to rent space in a shared kitchen facility and open an online bakery as a side business to see if there was a market for my product. For two years, the business steadily grew and I began dreaming of someday opening my own storefront. In the winter of 2015, I casually started looking at spaces just to get a sense of what was available and then I came across our current location, which had a lot of the buildout already done – including a huge oven! Even though I knew I wasn’t ready to leave my career and open a storefront, for some reason I made an appointment to see the space a second time. As I was preparing to leave my job to head to the second viewing, my manager called me into his office and informed me that I was being laid-off. The universe couldn’t have spoken to me any more clearly.”
What made you chose the name?
“For many years I was a freelance writer and when I started covering pop culture for the Christian Science Monitor, I set up a twitter account and chose JodiBWrites as my twitter handle. “B” is for Bradbury, my last name. When I started thinking about opening a bakery, I immediately thought of that handle and changed the “Writes” to “Bakes” and the initial “B” to the word “Bee.” I thought the name was cute, concise and I liked the action of the verb.”
What made you chose Salem for the location of your shop?
“Even though I had been a resident of Salem for three years, prior to becoming a vendor at the Salem Farmer’s Market, most of my customer base was established in Amesbury where the my shared kitchen facility was. But after my first year at the Salem Farmer’s Market, I not only established a strong local customer base, but I found myself included in this amazingly supportive, dynamic and creative community that I knew I wanted to continue to be part of.”
What has the biggest challenge been for you as a business owner in the witch city?
“I think being a business owner is a challenge regardless of where you are located. Learning to navigate the various departments, procedures and policies involved with opening a small business, took quite a bit of time and was stressful but I imagine that would be the case anywhere.What advice would you give to someone considering opening a shop in Salem. I think it is important to understand that despite it’s popularity and growth, Salem still has the soul of a small town and small towns are built on relationships; taking the time to get to know the people in your community can go a long way both personally and professionally. The relationships I have built since opening continue to be the most rewarding part of my job.”
What’s one thing you’d want people to know about your business that may not be inherently obvious?
“Jodi Bee Bakes is a Conscious Business, that is to say that the business has a mission that goes deeper than just trying to earn a profit. Our commitment to the environment and social justice is just as strong as our commitment to quality and it influences every decision that we make, especially with regards to the ingredients we use and the suppliers that we work with.”
Is running a business in Salem in October as chaotic as it sounds?
“In a word, YES. It is something that one would need to experience to truly appreciate.”
Do you have any future or upcoming events you’re excited about or want to share?
“On April 1st we are launching our new lunch and weekend brunch menus. These will include made-to-order waffles on Sundays, sandwiches, and breakfast items. I am excited to to say that everything on the new menu is vegan and the majority of it is also gluten free.”
Do you have a product that is your specialty? Is there something specific you’re known for?
“We are blessed to have so many passionate customers who each have their favorites but if I had to pick one, our Gluten-free Browned Butter and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies are our best-selling item. I’d say what we are best known for is creating delicious food that also happens to be vegan and/or gluten-free.”
Do you do anything specific or special during certain times of the year? October or non.
“Our menu is largely driven by the season, so options change frequently. In October, our Pumpkin Chili and Hot Mulled Local Cider are very popular!”
#salem #salemma #thingstodoinsalem #thingstodoinsalemma #thewitchcity #witchcityguide #thesalembusinesspotlight #thesalemspotlight #salemmabusinesses #businessesalemma #jodibeebakes #glutenfree #vegan #veganbakery @jodibeebakes #glutenfreebakery