It took a pandemic to motivate Melissa Jones to leave Toronto and head home to Sarnia and start her own business.
“I just said the city is not for me,” says the 27-year-old owner of the new Daisy Fox Bakery.
Jones was working at a kosher bakery in Toronto and found the risk of catching COVID-19 there was creating anxiety.
“I quit my job and left for a quieter life here,” she said.
But life has been anything but quiet since Jones launched her own small-batch bakery. She works 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., then goes home for more hours on the computer doing accounting and research.
But long hours were expected. Jones has experience baking for several grocery stores, the Toronto bakery, and took night classes on baking at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and George Brown College in Toronto. She is used to rising early and doing more work by noon than many do all day.
But she welcomes it all. Operating her own bakery has been a goal for years. Last summer, she took part in local economic development competitions for start-up funds, but didn’t win.
“That didn’t stop me, even with the pandemic,” she said with a smile. “I just went ahead because everyone is losing their jobs and bakeries seem to be pretty recession-proof.”
Jones, who grew up in Oil Springs and Sarnia, is keeping the selection small while she refines recipes and discovers what customers like best.
And it’s working. The display counter is empty by closing time just about every day.
Daisy Fox – named for Jones’ love of flowers and animals – specializes in cupcakes, muffins, cookies, donuts and birthday cakes.
She posts daily what’s coming out of the oven on her Facebook page and website (www.daisyfoxbakery.com.)
In addition to a small storefront at 1273 London Rd, Jones takes pre-orders. She bakes bread on Fridays and is rapidly expanding the menu. About half her baked goods are vegan friendly, and she makes keto cookies.
No pastries or slab cakes, though. “There’s no time,” she said.
Renovating the shop during a pandemic has been slow going, but Jones believes there’s an upside for some local businesses in these difficult times.
“I’m noticing that a lot of people are experiencing restaurants they never knew were here and they are trying more local food,” she said.
“If there’s anything positive about the pandemic, I think it’s this local-mindedness.”
That was evident her first week when a local company ordered 170 Halloween goody boxes with sugar cookies and cupcakes.
“I really appreciate that kind of support,” she said. “And I really like the pre-ordering so I can plan for it.”
Prices are posted online. An old-fashioned dipped donut is $1.50; cookies are $1; muffins are $2; and six-inch birthday cakes are $28.
To contact Daisy Fox Bakery, call 226-886-2828. The shop is open Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Got a great idea for a business story? Send it to [email protected].