Earlier this year we saw another great addition to Manchester’s burgeoning coffee scene as Kin Bakehouse & Kitchen opened their doors to the people of Urmston. As the name suggests, Kin’s mission is to create an atmosphere where people feel welcome, comfortable and at home - a feeling that you are of the same Kin. Passionate about coffee, tea, cake and food, founders Kerry and Jen produce an ever changing array of beautiful cakes all baked in house and of course, coffee and tea from yours truly!
What was your background before opening Kin Bakehouse and why did you decide to open a cafe?
Jen: We both went to university and got degrees in subjects completely unrelated to cooking or baking! I studied zoology then went into teaching and Kerry into employment law. We then both turned 30, had early mid life crises and left our professions to pursue the dream of baking for a living! In Nov 2012 I started my junior baker role as an apprentice as a way of gaining experience in the industry.
Kerry: I was living in Reading with work and moved to Manchester to pursue the baking dream. I started The Jam Jar, a little business running from home and did the markets around Manchester, as well as wedding and celebration cakes before beginning work as a pastry chef.
Jen: We met at the cafe in Didsbury where we were both bakers and always talked about having our own place one day. We then left to go to other jobs but came back together at Feed general store in Heaton Chapel. Tris and Maya (the owners) were so supportive and inspired us to make the leap for ourselves. I guess it took longer than we had thought it would to get the confidence to set up our business. Kerry and I definitely needed each other to make that next step.
Do you have a Food Hero that has inspired you to bake for a living?
Strangely we were both bought the Hummingbird bakery book many years ago (before we knew each other) when the trend for cupcake baking was just starting, and this is where our love for baking began. Before that neither of us had really baked before, other than with family as children, so this was definitely an inspiration for both of us!
Jen: Ottolenghi and my Mum and Grandma. The Ottolenghi influence came from seeing their beautiful cake counters in their London restaurants and cafes. I love their cookbooks too and have discovered a love of cooking middle eastern inspired food from them. I always baked with my mum and grandma when I was a kid and I think I definitely learnt the basics from them. I have very fond memories of baking scones and shortbread with my grandma. She was an amazing baker!
Kerry: My boss Trish, from when I was around 16 from the local cafe I used to work at was one of the best bakers I have ever known and was the person that introduced me to the courgette, lime and pistachio combination!
What made you choose Urmston as a location? What do you feel are the pros and cons to opening just outside the city centre?
Urmston has a great community spirit - we truly have been overwhelmed with the level of support from the local people, from people coming to chat to us when we had our paintbrushes in our hands before we opened, to the lovely feedback we’ve received ever since we opened. We’d heard very good things about Urmston before we settled on this as our location, and it absolutely has lived up to its reputation! Lots of independent businesses such as Kelder, Get Chucked and The Assembly, are thriving and Urmston is really going in the direction to support the development of small, independent businesses.
There was a clear gap in the market for us (there was nowhere to get high quality coffee and good housemade cake in the area) and when our property became available, we knew we had to go for it. It's the Ideal demographic for us - lots of professionals and young families.
What’s your favourite Coffee & Cake Combo?
We’re both now cortado drinkers having slowly progressed through the ranks of latte, to flat white due to increased need and tolerance for caffeine! - and of course now, the quality of the coffee we’re drinking on a daily basis!
Its not often that we get to sit down and enjoy more than a bite of a cake for quality control purposes, but if we did we’d go for a nata, a slice of courgette, pistachio and lime cake, or a classic scone with jam and cream.
Do you have a Trade Secret you’d be willing to share with your Kinfolk?!
The fridge should never be home to cake!! Somewhere cool and dry is more than sufficient!
Tell us about the build-out process. Would you do anything differently?
We weren’t sure how we’d cope with it, and this element of following our dream, was perhaps why we took so long to go for it, however we absolutely loved it! It was really hard work physically (especially as we set up during one of the hottest summers on record!), but it was very rewarding when we saw it all coming together. We enjoyed getting stuck in and doing a lot of the work ourselves as much as possible. Jen became very handy with a drill!! So we’re really proud of how much of Kin is our own work.
It was all about the little details for us like the copper touches here and there, beautiful artwork and handwritten signage (supplied by the extremely talented Myro (@myrodoodles) and Jen (@signedbyjen) and little things such as using gin bottles from Kelder for our table numbers!
What advice would you give to another start-up?
Do as much of the work as you can yourself! Not only will this save you much needed money, but it will give you a massive sense of pride and satisfaction that you’ve put your all (blood, sweat and tears!) into your business. Never accept the first quote and don’t be scared to negotiate - you can always get a better price!! Branding is so important. One of our good friends Soph, a designer (Little Bird Design), did our branding for us and we feel like it really captures exactly what Kin is about. Use social media! We began accounts on insta, facebook and twitter as soon as we got the keys to our place so that people could follow our journey and create a buzz about our opening as and when it came about. This absolutely helped us to be busy from day one, and we haven’t looked back! Use high quality, local suppliers wherever possible - its so important that small businesses support each other. We use Trove for our bread, Littlewoods for our meat, and Poplar Farms for our eggs, and we feel those guys are instrumental in Kin developing a reputation for good quality food, as people trust in them and their amazing reputations. Getting the right staff - we are incredibly lucky with the team we have supporting us as we start out, but we put the time and effort in to ensure the people we have with us care, work incredibly hard and want to provide the same level of customer service that we do.