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Local Baker’s Business Model Adapts To Keep Up With A Pandemic

Local Baker’s Business Model Adapts to Keep Up with a Pandemic

Like other moms during the pandemic, Laura Hayes is trying to balance her 8-year-old daughter’s schoolwork with running a full-time, home-based business. 

“It definitely makes it challenging to run my business,” says Hayes, who owns Livi Lu’s, a boutique-style bakery that makes desserts and bread. “It all takes a lot of work and time.”

Hayes started the business in 2015 as Gourmand Bakery and later changed the name to Livi Lu’s. Growing up Hayes’ sister nicknamed her Lulu. “And I have a nickname, Livi Lu, for my daughter, Olivia,” Hayes says of how she came up with the company name. 

Following a New Path 

Laura never planned on owning her own bakery. After graduating from Johnson & Wales with a degree in baking and pastry arts, she worked for The Country Club of Virginia and later help open Southern Seasons as the pastry chef. When that company closed, she had to reexamine her career. 

“I thought to myself what next? There are not a whole lot of places for a pastry chef in Richmond,” she says, adding that after discussions with her husband, Chris, she “decided to take the leap and start my own bakery.”

That move worked out well for her. Hayes supplies bakery items and bread to a few restaurants in town as well as Willow Oaks Country Club. She also sells her bakery items at Yellow Umbrella Provisions on Patterson Ave. and creates cakes and other items for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays. 

Since the start of the pandemic her volume of business has gone down. “I did have some weddings lined up that had to cancel or reschedule,” she says. “I had another event that cancelled as well.”

Because she is a small business she doesn’t have enough volume to qualify to buy supplies from large vendors such as Performance Food Group. She has to go to the grocery store to buy her supplies, which have been “difficult to find because so many people are staying home and baking,” she says. “Things like flour, butter and eggs are running low.”

Laura has had to reach out to some of her larger customers to help order items for Livi Lu’s during the pandemic. She is also working with no-contact pickup for items such as birthday cakes, cookies, etc. “I’m getting use to social distancing,” she says. 

Teaching the Next Generation 

Laura is teaching her daughter to bake a little whenever Olivia asks to try her hand at baking. “She has wanted to help roll the bread. Sometimes she things what I do is boring,” Laura says. “There are other times when she does like it. She’s very detail oriented. Sometimes she will help me work with the scale or she will sprinkle sugar and think of nice garnishes.”

Talking about the future is tricky at the moment because Livi Lu’s is a small business, Laura says. “I would like to be able to do more things even at the places where we already do business. I’d also like to add little touches, even if it’s adding to what we have to do at the business.”

Her goal is to keep her business running so she can serve the community. “We have been fortunate to keep our doors open, but I know that is not the case for everybody,” she says. “I’m hoping everyone is healthy and safe and can get back on their feet.” 

You can reach Livi Lu’s through email livilus.pastryfare@gmail.com.

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