“Free-From” Business Spotlight: Sullivan & Bleeker, Nut-Free Bakery in Toronto
If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more nut-free bakeries. While I’d like them to be gluten-free and nut-free, I have more than enough gluten-free spots to pick from and want my husband to feel the joy of being able to select any item from a bakery display case and feel the security of knowing that it’s 100% safe for him to eat.
If only we lived in Canada! Sullivan & Bleeker Baking Co. in Toronto, Canada is 100% nut-free bakery that offers homemade candy, cookies, cupcakes, and jarcakes. All of their products are made with premium ingredients, fresh local dairy, and quality chocolate. I spoke with founder Elyse Wahle about what inspired her to start her own business, the challenges of being a nut-free bakery, how she dreams up new items, and more.
AFW: What inspired you to start Sullivan & Bleeker?
Elyse: As you have probably seen, I was living in NYC and baking out of my tiny kitchen there. Upon moving back to Toronto, I took it upon myself to make sure my nephew (and now niece) never had to have a store bought birthday cake. After making that decision, the whole venture just snowballed!
AFW: You lived in NYC for 10 years and worked at Dylan’s Candy Bar. How did your time there influence Sullivan & Bleeker?
Elyse: It’s hard not to love candy! The environment there was fun and so happy, it made me realize that food is and should always be a source of happiness – it brings people together.
AFW: Your treats are not only delicious, but 100% peanut and tree nut free. Do you find it’s difficult to source 100% nut-free ingredients?
Elyse: Sourcing 100% nut-free ingredients can be challenging, but we take it very seriously. Besides, we are always up for a good challenge and the reward is being able to serve delicious treats that we are proud to stand behind.
AFW: Your cookies, cupcakes, and jarcakes are beautiful and delicious. Where do you get the inspiration for your unique flavor ideas, like the winter cookie, the birthday cookie, or the hey there smarty cookie?
Elyse: I love coming up with new and inventive products for our customers to enjoy. We are very lucky to work in a collaborative environment where new ideas are bounced around every day. Sometimes its a particular season that sparks a new concept, but most of the time we simply ask ourselves, what would I want to eat?
AFW: The jarcakes look so tempting, I could never eat just one! What was the decision to go with smaller cakes versus full sized?
Elyse: I always say that everyone would want to carry a cupcake in their pocket and thats where the idea for jar cakes stemmed from. The smaller size was a test item and we received such a strong response from them that we had to run with it! As it turns out, everyone wants to carry a MINI cupcake in their pocket!
AFW: What’s your favorite item sold at Sullivan & Bleeker?
Elyse: Its hard to choose a favourite, but the classic chocolate chip cookie is something I never hesitate to reach for.
AFW:Â Do you have any plans to offer any gluten-free items in the future?
Elyse: We currently are not producing any gluten-free items, however we are constantly growing, so who knows what we might come up with!
AFW: What have been the most important lessons you’ve learned from starting your own business?
Elyse: Surround yourself with great people, in every aspect, great clients, great staff and great mentors, from there, everything else will fall in line.
AFW: Describe Sullivan & Bleeker in three words.
Elyse: Dynamic, Bold, Addictive.