Ashley Chapman's dream, when she returned to Idaho from the California Bay Area 2016, was to open a bakery, but was daunted by the cost.
"I was crunching the numbers. It's expensive as hell," Chapman said. "I had to start this a different way, and after a few learning experiences, I realized the breadshare was the way to go."
Subscribers to her breadshare, Sable Baking, receive a loaf of bread each week for $30 per month. Chapman, who bakes in her home, sources flour from Central Milling in Utah, and other ingredients through a partnership with Fiddler's Green Farm in the Dry Creek Valley. Chapman has developed flavor profiles like roasted butternut squash with cherries, roasted beet and chocolate sourdough, brown rice porridge, and seeded leek and turmeric levain. Within about two hours of loaves coming out of the oven, they're ready for pickup.
Baking from home, however, has kept Chapman limited to between 16 and 20 subscriptions, which she said leaves many would-be subscribers in the cold. A new partnership with restaurateurs DK and Sarah Kelly, however, could be the key to expansion.
The Kellys own and operate Bleubird, one of the most celebrated lunch spots in Boise. They're shuttering their popular eatery for good Thursday, Jan. 26, however, to focus on Petite 4, their new French bistro-inspired dinner and brunch restaurant on the Bench scheduled to open in April. Chapman will rent approximately 100 square feet in the new kitchen, where she'll be able to increase her breadshare subscription numbers while also baking bread for Petite 4. During brunch, she plans to serve coffee and pastries through a Dutch door leading outside.
"It's an incredible opportunity to work with [the Kellys]," Chapman said. Her micro bakery will have "very, very low overhead," and most of her expenses will be covered by baking for Petite 4 and selling pastries on the side. With the rest of her time, she can expand Sable to up to 100 customers.
Where other bakeries try to increase profits by maximizing sales, Chapman has found success in keeping things small and focusing on efficiency. The subscription model practically eliminates excess production, and the pace and scale of her operation allows Chapman to shape and score each loaf by hand, allowing her to work on her craft in a way unheard of at more mechanized bakeries.
"I think it's more artful," Chapman said. "I have more control over my end product."