Just Started – Crumb and Comfort: Jessica Lynch and Niamh Murphy

We could all do with some tasty, home-baked treats right now. But what if you’re lacking the skillset, or time, to make them? Luxury treat box brand, Crumb and Comfort is here to help!

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Name of founders: Jessica Lynch and Niamh Murphy
Ages of the founders: 26
Location: London
Date launched: 11 August
Number of employees: 2

What does your business do?

We are an online bakery with a weekly treat box delivery service, which focuses on innovative flavour combinations.

We hope to provide customers with a unique experience of tasting unexpected ingredients in your classic comforting bakes (think marmite caramel or pink peppercorns in a fudgy brownie!). We have four different menus, one for each week of the month, and a vegan cookie box that is available every week. Customers can either buy as a one-off purchase or sign up to a monthly treat box.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Both of us have always loved to bake and enjoy experimenting with new flavours (our friends are probably sick of tasting our Willy Wonka inspired ideas by now). During lockdown we noticed an increase in ‘letterbox gifts’, especially those with baked goods. Although there are a lot of home bakers offering this service, they all had very similar ideas and the same products. We spotted a gap in the market for unique flavours and a luxury treat box which would make a great gift for others as well as an indulgent treat for yourself.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We researched other treat box delivery services and found that most were quite similar – the market is slightly over-saturated with bakes full of chocolate bars or spreads. We knew we wanted to create baked goods that stand out and feel like an upgrade on classic home comfort treats, which couldn’t be easily created at home (without a lot of trial and error!).

With our mission to offer something different, we held focus groups with our target market to debate and discuss our ideas. This helped us to establish what sort of products and flavours people were excited about trying out, and which were no-gos! Nobody wants to eat fennel brownies, apparently.

We spotted a gap in the market for unique flavours and a luxury treat box.

Then we started trialling various flavours in our bakes and holding taster sessions for anonymous feedback, arming us with the information needed to improve our bakes before release.

Another important factor for us was our packaging. Most other companies that we researched used a lot of single-use plastic to pack and send their goods. We put time and effort into researching the best ways to keep our baked goods fresh, protected, but also environmentally friendly, which is important to our customers and a priority for us.

What were you doing before launching your business?

Jess: I work in mental health services within the NHS.
Niamh: I am currently a PhD student studying at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Have you always dreamed of starting a business?

Jess: I dreamt of one day having a bakery but didn’t think it would ever be a reality necessarily. It feels like a big achievement to even have started our business at this point in our lives and alongside full-time work.
Niamh: No, I have not always imagined starting a business but I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

How did you finance your business?

We are currently self-funded.

Explain your business model and how you make money.

We offer customers the option of either a one-time purchase or a monthly subscription service, through which they receive a 10% discount.

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

The main challenge we faced is using a small domestic kitchen and oven for all our orders. We had to ensure our work space follows strict food hygiene standards and having such a small space can cause some logistical issues. We both completed a level 2 food hygiene and safety for catering training course and have learnt to be incredibly organised and keep to strict time schedules in order to get everything baked safely and ready for delivery. We have since been awarded a five-star food hygiene rating.

It feels like a big achievement to even have started our business at this point in our lives and alongside full-time work.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

We came up with the idea during the first couple of months of lockdown, and the pandemic has allowed us to have more time to plan and set up the business. Those initial months really allowed us to organise everything and make the best possible product before our launch in August.

Describe your first breakthrough.

Our first breakthrough was being asked to provide the baked goods for an office summer party. This was the biggest order we have had to date and allowed us to promote our product to a lot of people at once.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

Just go for it! We never thought we would have started a business a year ago but looking back, all of those smaller steps we took have accumulated into something that we’re very proud of.

Have regular small goals and each decision you make leads you a little bit closer to reaching your bigger goals without even realising. Also, doing it with a friend you trust makes the whole process a lot more fun and enjoyable and easier to manage when things get stressful!

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

Brexit has not had a clear impact on our business, the only potential issues we may face would be with importing the food we need to make our baked goods or if the delivery of our goods was affected by less availability of delivery drivers for example. If this was the case, we would plan to adapt and look into the possibility of having a stall at a food market so that we do not need to rely on delivery.

All of those smaller steps we took have accumulated into something that we’re very proud of.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

To expand our marketing and reach more people through promotions and social media.

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

As our business continues to grow, we hope to offer more choice for those with allergies and intolerances, as well as to start selling our products in-person at market stalls.

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Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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