Much has been said about baking. But there is one quote from American author Regina Brett that springs to my mind at the very mention of the word. She said, “If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation.”
For family traditions born in the baking pans of our great ancestors, Regina could not have captured this truth any better.
Many favorite baked goods you buy today are made from family recipes, passed on through the decades like priced, guarded secrets. Over the course of many years in the printing business, we have been very lucky to work with many of them, but there is one that stands out.
Like Father, Like Daughter
Meet David Schur and Jenny Lewis, the father and daughter baking duo behind Hulda’s Swedish Baked Goods. If you’re from New Hampshire and haven’t heard of them yet, chances are you’ll find them at NH Farmers Markets selling—you guessed it—Swedish baked goodies.
Baking has always been a part of their lives, as it is with their Swedish traditions. But the business side of things came late to them.
David worked in the corporate world for many years. When he retired, he devoted his time to family, to his many exciting hobbies (including gardening and photography), and of course, to baking. “My daughter Jenny shares my passion for baking. I guess it’s part of our DNA.”, says David.
Meanwhile, Jenny is a busy wife and mom to an 8-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. She works in healthcare for over 20 years and continues to work part-time as a case manager for traumatic brain injury survivors living in the community.
For Hulda, the Inspiration
Who is Hulda?
Hulda, Jenny shares, was her great grandmother who co-owned and ran a bakery in Chicago in the early 1900s with another Swedish immigrant. Even before their bakery came into being, Jenny knew exactly whom to name it after.
“My dad and I have always shared our love for baking and we sometimes talked about opening a bakery. It was really just a dream that was fun to imagine. I even remember saying that I would name it “Hulda’s.”
Jenny recalls how her need for fulfillment a couple of years ago opened the conversation of starting a baking business. Around that same time, David was going through a major career transition—retirement.
Jenny knew her father would be the perfect business partner, but she would have to convince him.
“One day when we were driving up to Vermont for a bread baking class I had given him for Christmas, I asked him what he thought of the farmers market idea. We chatted about it for a long time. I wasn’t sure I had convinced him until I got an email from him the next day. The subject was HULDA’S SWEDISH BAKED GOODS and he said he loved the idea of going to farmer’s markets and thought we should focus on selling our Swedish baked goods. I loved that idea.”
One month after convincing her father, Jenny and David finalized their plan and sent out applications to local markets. With support from their friends and families, and knowing that New Hampshire encourages small businesses, Hulda’s Swedish Baked Goods became official.
The Business of Baking
David and Jenny bake from their own kitchens. They consolidate their baked goods and bring them to the market together. For special orders, they bake in Jenny’s kitchen.
The father and daughter baking duo work in harmonious dynamics and we were curious to know how they keep in sync. According to David, “It’s been a joint effort with the creation of Hulda’s Swedish Baked Goods. Jenny has the entrepreneurial spirit and a very creative eye. She has the vision. I keep track of things to give us a reading on what is working with marketing, production, shipping, etc.”
Evidently, it works! Their bakery is now in business for 1 ½ year and it continues to grow. They even added a special-order business which, too, is on the rise.
But of course, they face challenges like any other business.
“One of our biggest challenges is trying to estimate how much to bake. For outside markets weather is beyond our control. If it’s hot, cold, or raining the number of customers diminishes. It’s hard to predict which products will be the ‘hot sellers‘ from week to week.”
And with challenges come learnings. David’s business tips are succinct yet profound. I have a few top picks to share:
“Be fiscally sound but let your passion drive the business.”
“Always have some goals for the next step.”
A Taste of Swedish Tradition
On both sides of the family are rich Swedish traditions that include baking recipes dating back to the 19th century, brought to America by their ancestors.
With several Scandinavian bakeries closing shop, Hulda’s becomes even more instrumental in reviving specialty bakeries that offer a taste of the Swedish legacy. And a legacy in its own right is the bakery’s oldest recipe, the Limpa or Swedish rye bread.
David fondly shares how the Limpa recipe made it to today.
“My grandmother would bake this recipe during the 1930s and 1940s for church bake sales and family gatherings. On one of my grandmother’s visits to our house in Massachusetts when I was 12 years old, she was baking Limpa. I wanted to learn how to bake the bread, so I stood beside her with paper, a pencil, measuring cups and spoons. Since the recipe wasn’t written, I watched very carefully, made her put the ingredients in the measuring tools before adding them to the bowl, and wrote down the recipe. It took me many years before I thought it was as good as Grandma Newman’s. I taught it to Jenny while she was growing up.”
Most of their baked products bear the name of their Swedish relatives like Olivia’s Limpa, Berit’s Bullar, Helen’s Cardamom Braid, and Esther’s Pepparkakor; a proud hat tip to the people who continue to inspire their baking.
David and Jenny get the most pleasure when their customers are reminded of their grandparent’s baking through Hulda’s baked goods. So, we had to ask, what makes Swedish baking special?
The secret lies in the simple ingredients of flour, milk, butter, sugar, and yeast that create soft sweet bread. They also add spices (almond, cardamom, cinnamon, etc) that add a light hint of special tastes that are unique to Swedish baking.
Custom Labels for the Swedish Legacy
David and Jenny are optimistic about the future of their business, with plans to expand their production to local stores, restaurants, and online.
What’s their ultimate goal?
“We’d like to see Hulda as an icon in the baking industry someday.”
Every investment in perfecting their offerings as well as their brand’s marketing efforts will ultimately contribute to their long-term goal. This calls for another one of David’s business advice: “Display your product with unique and personal touches.”
Personal touches by way of custom labels.
It was a pleasure to print Hulda’s custom labels, so we wanted to know how the PrintRunner experience was for them.
Working with PrintRunner has been a pleasure. The ease of doing business, the fair pricing that’s available, and the prompt delivery of your products are excellent. Click To Tweet
“Working with PrintRunner has been a pleasure. The ease of doing business, the fair pricing that’s available, and the prompt delivery of your products are excellent. Using the labels on all our products has helped us identify ourselves. Along with the labels, your business cards have been extremely helpful in creating an identity for Hulda’s Swedish Bakers.”
It is quite an achievement to be a part of a business’ journey. Thank you, Hulda’s Swedish Baked Goods, for bringing back the taste of Swedish baking to those who might have forgotten and introducing them to the younger generations.
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