Couple who faced loss of home now hoping to expand Bakehouse 21 business thanks to help from ‘amazing’ customers

Lauren and Thomas have overcome a lot of hurdles but are now looking to the future

A couple who faced losing their home after hitting hurdles with their health and their cake baking business are now looking to the future after being saved by “amazing” support from their customers.

Lauren Brown and partner Tom Palmer run Bakehouse 21, providing Brownies and Old School cakes for delivery.

The pair have a commercial kitchen set up at Lauren’s parents’ home in Dane Valley but had initially started working from their shared ownership home in Herne Bay.

Thomas, originally from Ramsgate, and Lauren, from Margate, moved from Thanet to Herne Bay because of the shared ownership option where the couple pay mortgage plus rent to Hyde Housing.

In 2019 Lauren was working at Saga and Thomas worked jobs from bank staff to construction and catering.

Lauren, 30, baked as a hobby and a post on facebook led to lots of requests for cakes. This was the prompt for Bakehouse 21 which Lauren started after leaving her insurance job due to health issues.

Former Marlowe Academy student Thomas, 28, said: “It started a few years ago. We had some health issues and there were not many options for an income but we didn’t want to go on benefits.

“We were keen to work and found this (baking) was something we could manage. There were a series of challenges that we had to overcome and seemed to be one thing after another but we have made it through.”

Problems began when Thomas also had health issues and had to leave his job, putting the couple under financial strain.

Both then turned their hand to the baking business and Thomas created a new Brownie recipe which has become Bakehouse 21’s core product.

Lauren said: “We rapidly grew and started a contract with just eat. We didn’t expect much from it but it took off and orders were coming in, people pre ordered early morning and we even had to close early some days because we ran out of stock.

“Things were looking really good, and we felt really positive, we were able to pay off (housing) arrears from when my partner wasn’t working and the future looked bright.

“Then one day the phone rang, someone had reported to our housing association that we were running a cake business from home and informed us it was against the terms of our lease. We had to shut down immediately. No more cakes, no more just eat and no more income.

“We were extremely upset and devastated, as we had worked so hard to get our lives back on track and we had no idea what to do.”

It was at this point the pair created the commercial kitchen at Lauren’s parents’ house and had to start the business from scratch.

There were further personal hurdles but the couple say these have been resolved and they have rebuilt the business.

However, the issue of arrears amounting to just over £2,000 owed to the housing association remained and until yesterday (September 4) Lauren and Thomas thought their home was going to be repossessed following a court hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Thomas said: “The shared ownership is a complex situation. The mortgage company is happy to come to an arrangement in terms of arrears but we have the rent arrears for Hyde.

“We had been trying to reduce those arears for a while but there just wasn’t enough time to do it.

“We didn’t know what to do but we have an amazing customer base with some 5,200 people on our page and we thought we would try the fundraiser. We didn’t think it would do anything, maybe £20 or £50 but in the first evening £900 was raised and now we have raised what we need and I have spoken to the housing association to say we can pay that in full.

“Our customers have been amazing and so supportive, so many people have messaged with support or spoken to us when we are out delivering. People have been so amazing that we are just blown away.”

The support means Lauren and Thomas have breathing space to save their home and say demand for their Bakehouse 21 cakes is now so huge they are planning to find a bigger commercial premises in Thanet and take on driving staff.

Thomas said: “We will now be working towards getting a larger commercial kitchen, growing the business and bringing on staff. We are just putting contracts together for delivery drivers to help us fulfil orders.

“On an average day we sell between 15 and 20 boxes of brownies and 10-15 of the old school cakes. That is pretty much our output so we want to get another oven and drivers in the next few months.

“The majority of our customers are in Thanet and the business was founded in Thanet and we will be staying here, thanks to all the support.”

Find Bakehouse 21 on facebook here

3 Comments

  1. Well done displaying determination and kindness from their customers has helped them pull through. Debt is a major worry to so many who are struggling to make ends meet. The Conservatives have helped ruin thousands of lives by their policies. Vote all the Conservatives out at the next election let them see what it’s like to struggle financially.

Comments are closed.