Hello! I am Priya. Six years ago, I came to Lindsay, Ontario, for higher studies. I enrolled in Fleming College’s Advanced Water System Operations and Management program. During my studies, to cover personal expenses, I found a part-time job at Mickael’s Café Libraire, operated by a baker from France. Mickael sold croissants, sourdough bread, bagels, pretzels and more. All items were new to me because I am from Punjab, the land of chapati and curries.
I was hired to clean, but Mickael soon introduced me to baking. He started with uncomplicated items like bagels, pretzels, and cookies. After a few months his main baker left so Mickael taught me complicated items like sourdough bread.
In October 2018 my husband, Amrish Kumar Goyal, came to Lindsay on a spousal visa. For the first two months he worked in a factory. Then, near Christmas, he was laid off. He moved to Brampton for work and to enroll in a truck driving school, taking classes in the morning, and going to work in the afternoons. After passing the truck driving test, he returned to Lindsay but couldn’t find a truck-driving job due to lack of experience.
One day he asked Mickael for work. Luckily, Mickael was looking for someone for night shifts and asked Amrish to try baking. Mickael, whose first language is of course French, and Amrish, whose first language is Punjabi, used Google Translate occasionally. Mostly, though, Amrish learned by watching. “Mickael was very patient. If we made a mistake, he dealt with everything calmly,” says Amrish.
Amrish, working alone in the bakery through the night, focused on optimizing oven use. On Fridays he needed to turn out roughly 300 loaves. I was working during the day, preparing doughs, pretzels, bagels, cookies, tarts etc. At Mickael’s we discovered we both loved baking and soon dreamed of our own bakery. We worked hard and started saving money to make our dream come true.
After getting experience, we moved to Sudbury to open a bakery. I was 6 months pregnant when we moved to Sudbury. Before moving, Mickael and his staff arranged a party and baby shower for us. We were far from our family and home and receiving huge love in another country meant a lot to us.
In Sudbury I gave birth to our happy, healthy, and beautiful daughter. We chose her name, Kriti. She brought happiness to our life and gave us one more reason to succeed in our career. My parents, who had come over from India, helped us take care of Kriti.
We’d chosen Sudbury because we thought houses would be affordable and a French community would support French baked goods but couldn’t line up a commercial space and found out there were not enough farmers markets in the Sudbury area.
One day, Amrish’s cousin (Honey) told him about BRANTFORD, which is surrounded by a lot of cities. Our plan was, if the retail store would not go well, we would survive through farmers markets.
When we moved to Brantford we saw many commercial places but could not find anything that came within our budget because we had ordered an oven that required three-phase electrical connection. (Old buildings which were affordable did not have the connection and new plazas, where it was available, were very expensive for us.) The oven company was calling us to pick up the oven. We were very stressed and losing hope to open our bakery.
Then, Amrish’s friend (Rajdeep) told him about OKB, a shared commercial kitchen where different businesses cook/bake and sell at their food shop, farmers markets or as wholesalers. The owner of OKB is a very nice lady, and she allowed us to install our big oven in her kitchen.
We started baking in November 2022. We were baking for their food shop and distributing samples at different stores for wholesale supply. We went to the Niagara Falls Christmas market. All of this was covering bakery expenses, but for home expenses, Amrish was doing Uber and door dash.
We successfully applied to sell our baking in farmers markets in Burlington, Cambridge, Kitchener, Toronto, Smithville and Welland–6 locations in all. Also, Amrish’s sister-in-law (Nikita) was also living with us. With their help we managed 6 markets. Sometimes, we took Kriti to markets too. In July, his brother (Harish) came from India. He needed work too so we increased our market days. We started going to Burlington and Welland twice a week, so we had 8 markets per week.
People appreciated our products and we made revenue, and this gave us encouragement and satisfaction in knowing that we had made the right decision for our career.