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Hidden Gems: Meet Kelly Fenson-Hood of Red Branch Bakery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Fenson-Hood. 

Hi Kelly, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Red Branch Bakery is a family-owned, home-based bakery in Loveland. Our mission is to deliver happiness through simple, old-world baking techniques. 

Our story starts with Kieran, my husband, and the baker. Originally from New York, where the bread is delicious and everyone knows about crumb cake, he was so disappointed in Colorado’s bread scene so he decided to learn to make a proper loaf of long-fermented sourdough. With his cooking background, sourdough quickly expanded to pretzels, rye, tea breads, cookies, and pies. I’m Kelly and coming from an entrepreneurial background, I saw an opportunity to build a business and fill Loveland’s bakery void. But instead of opening a brick-and-mortar store, with high overhead, long hours, and limited flexibility, I wanted to re-envision our business model to support a lifestyle where we could work from home, stay close to our baby and eventually establish the bakery as one component of a larger urban homesteading vision, complete with selling eggs, honey and organic produce. 

Operating under the Colorado Cottage Food Act has allowed us to begin to build this future. The bakery is in its third year and continues to grow. We remodeled the garage into the bakery kitchen, we take online orders and offer pickup at the house, as well as at several local breweries. We also hold pop-up events at those breweries and participate as vendors in community events throughout the year. 

We plan to start leaning more into the homesteading phase in 2022, starting with expanding the footprint of our vegetable garden, building a greenhouse, and establishing beehives. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
We had a baby during our second year of operations, in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. It was certainly tricky to be new parents (especially during COVID) and also focus on building a business. Our families have been absolutely critical to our success. They help us care for the baby and it’s because of their collective effort that we are afforded the luxury of having so much time with our child. We are truly a family business. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Our flagship specialties are our long-fermented sourdough products – Rustic Sourdough Loaf, Dark Rye, NYC Pretzels, Pretzel Bread, and most recently Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. 

I think one thing that sets us apart from others is Kieran’s ability to spark sense memories through his food. One customer gave the following review of our Rustic Sourdough Loaf: 

“There is a scene in the movie Ratatouille in which a bite of Ratatouille triggers the food critic’s memory and he gets transported to a time during his childhood when his mother comforted him with some food. That was pretty much my experience with this bread. Just beautiful.” 

Being from New York, Kieran creates bakery items that he loves but aren’t readily available in Colorado. Another good example is our New York Crumb Cake. East coasters are gitty when they learn we offer a tried-and-true crumb cake and Colorado folks are in for a new treat. 

We’re also very well known for our pies. The flavors change with the seasons, but our pies are known for their buttery, flakey crust and our signature crumb topping, which creates a perfect sweet contrast to the fruit. 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
To have a successful family business, there must be a clear division of labor. Kieran is the boss in the kitchen and in the kitchen, I support him as needed – sometimes as his sous chef, sometimes as the dishwasher. Likewise, I am the boss of business operations and finances and he follows my lead. But we work together on the vision of the company and the vision for our life together, and above all, we support each other. 

Pricing:

  • Rustic Sourdough Loaf – $7.00
  • Cinnamon Raisin Swirl – $8.00
  • New York Crumb Cake – $10.00 (8×8 tray)
  • NYC Pretzels – $18.00 (half dozen)
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie – $22.00

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