Blondie Brownie: The booming Willy Wonka-esque Lancastrian bakery setting tastebuds twitching
There’s a slice of delicious irony that, in part, the idea behind Blondie Brownie - the booming Lancastrian bakery keeping people furnished with tasty treats in lockdown - was born in the gym.
Kayleigh Blacklock and Natalie Mitchell met through their boyfriends, who played football together, and soon became firm friends themselves. Both doing shift work at the time - Nat for the NHS and Kayleigh for the police - they often found they were off work at similar times during the week, and so started going to the gym together.
“We started chatting about possibly doing something on the side for a bit of extra cash and came up with the idea of getting into baking,” explains Kayleigh, 32, who lives in Trawden. “It all went from there, really.”
Thanks to Nat and Kayleigh’s penchant for artistry with all things sugar-and-sweet, what started out as a way for them to furnish loved ones with treats whilst also having a good laugh and making a little extra spending money to fund the odd night on the town soon took on a life of its own. In June 2017, Blondie Brownie was officially born.
“We knew we had to give it a go because we’d regret it if we didn’t; we sat in the garden together for hours trying to come up with a name!” says Natalie, 29, who also lives in Trawden. “We took it day by day and, while some weeks were rubbish, it’s gone from strength to strength over time.”
Having exploded in popularity since their appearance at The Great Yorkshire Show in 2019 - at which Blondie Brownie sold more than 3,000 products and were featured in Channel 5’s coverage - the enterprise has been on the up-and-up, now selling a range of products which would make Willy Wonka blush.
“We launched the website last October and, while we were doing postal deliveries before that, that side of things has taken off since then,” says Natalie. “January was great - everyone’s normally on diets, but not this year! No one can go out, so I reckon they’ve sat at home ordering brownies instead!”
Kayleigh also highlights the importance of their pivot towards online orders as crucial during lockdown.
“Our business model for last year and this year was going to be focused on a lot of weddings and pop-up shops and markets, but all of that has gone, so we had to switch our focus to postal,” she says. “At the moment, we can’t make massive plans for the future because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the world.”
With each batch individually weighed and mixed by hand, the company offers national postage of their delectable treats from their Barnoldswick-based HQ and - prior to the Covid-19 outbreak - had a regular presence at various weekend markets across Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, and Greater Manchester, setting taste buds twitching across the North West.
“It’s stressful at times and it’s hard work, but we’re building a future,” says Kayleigh, with the pair assisted in the Blondie Brownie kitchen by Nat’s mum and aunt, Janet and Judith. “Especially now that we both have families, we wanted to move away from shift work and doing nights - we’re working hard to build something for ourselves.”
“Covid-depending, we want to get back to catering weddings as soon as they’re back on, as well as things like markets and shows,” adds Nat. “We just have to keep growing as we are.
“It doesn’t even feel like you’re coming to work, it just feels like a good laugh and mess-about with your mate and, with my mum and auntie here, it’s a real family-run business.”
With the cherry Bakewell blondie the standout thing on the menu for Kayleigh and the dipping boxes a personal favourite of Nat’s, the pair say inspiration for a new creation can come from anywhere.
“Having just had a baby, Kayleigh comes in sometimes and says ‘At 3am this morning, I was thinking we could do...’” says Nat.
“Then we just do it!”