Today we’d like to introduce you to Kieran Murphy and Kelly Fenson-Hood.
Kieran and Kelly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in NY and moved to Colorado in 2014. Having bounced around through the restaurant and retail industries since I was 14, and coming from a passionate cooking family, the kitchen was never too far away from me.
Baking, however, was something that grabbed me a few years ago. When it got a hold of me, I fell hard. I was baking bread all the time and eventually, I started giving it to friends and family, who delivered a lot of great feedback. The idea to turn my love of baking bread into a business was really the brainchild of my wife, Kelly Fenson-Hood. Kelly grew up in Boulder and has been involved with start-ups since 2012, so she manages the business operations side of the bakery, as well as the cookie production.
Thanks to the Colorado Cottage Food Act (colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/cottage-foods-act), we are able to operate out of our home while we build our brand and customer base, and then transition to a storefront when the time is right.
We soft opened for the 2018 holiday season and officially launched on Valentines Day 2019. We figured it was the perfect holiday to mark our business anniversary because Loveland is known as the “sweetheart city.” We said hello to the town with Kelly’s Sweetheart Chocolate Chip Cookies
Things are going great and we’re really excited for a busy summer season!
Has it been a smooth road?
Probably the largest challenge came from operating out of the home. We sacrificed our dining room, turning it into the packaging and supply area, we built a huge baking bench and put a wood-fired oven on the back porch. But on the upside, our house always smells like fresh baked goods!
However, overall, things have gone rather smoothly because of the support of the Loveland community. Frankly, we’ve received a level of support that this cynical New Yorker never could’ve anticipated. In fact that support drives us. We expected to be doing this on the side and slowly scale it up, but our community has pushed us further and faster than we ever thought possible. So, really we have them to thank.
I think it comes down to the fact that if you make a good product for the right reasons, people will support it despite what the naysayers may have to say, and there will be naysayers. That’s the best advice I can give people, be ready for the naysayers, and if you believe in what you’re doing, push forward.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Red Branch Bakery – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Our mission is to employ old-world techniques to bring simple, delicious food to the community. For us, that means to return to basics to produce baked goods in the most authentic way possible.
It sounds, simple, but we said from the beginning, that we would only use ingredients that anyone could recognize – ingredients like butter, salt, chocolate, unbleached flour, natural starter, sugar, etc. In fact, you’ll never find an ingredient that you don’t recognize in a Red Branch product, that is our commitment to the customer.
We are lucky enough to be able to source many of our ingredients such as our salts, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla extract directly from a local spice shop here in town. Black Garlic Spice Shop has been quite the serendipitous find for us, and they surely make our products taste phenomenal.
We focus much of our marketing efforts on partnering with local breweries in Loveland. We set up a table at the brewery, hand out samples, chat with folks about our products and sell baked treats, including warm sourdough pretzels, grand chocolate chip cookies and our summer specialty – pineapple gingerbread. We really love building partnerships with other local business owners because we can help and support each other, but it also helps build a strong community.
Our specialty has to be our long fermented rustic loaf, which on its face is simple. Flour, water, salt and something magical called fermentation. When I was learning how to bake bread, I learned that bread has a bit of tormented history.
It’s sort of funny because all bread used to be sourdough, but now we use that term to describe a certain type of bread. That really shows how far we’ve gone from what the fundamentals of bread are. The bread we have been eating for decades has resulted in gluten sensitivity and a whole host of other health issues. We believe making breads in the old way can be one of many steps that we can take as a society to correct that.
We are in the midst of a modern re-birth of bread, and we are proud to be a small part of that.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Well, for me, Denver or Loveland, really Colorado as a whole has been incredible. Since its founding, Colorado has been a crossroads for people. That’s why there is so much creativity and craftsmanship to be found here. It also has been a place to come and build a life and that’s what it’s been for me. So, the best part about it is that sense of freedom and young energy you can feel out here. That can really change your life.
The thing I like least? I do miss the ocean a bit…
- Website: RedBranchFoods.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: fb.me/RedBranchBakery
- Twitter: @RedBranchRustic