Clear Flour Bread Bakery's reputation for high quality and broad variety reflect owners Christy Timon and Abe Faber's commitment to their products.
Timon and Faber developed and honed their skills through the years, bolstered by seminars at the now-defunct National Baking Center, visits with artisan bakers in the United States and Europe and participation in Bread Bakers Guild of America activities. The couple are charter members of The Guild, and Faber is a nine-year member of its board of directors.
“We're a part of an international community of people who love baking bread and pastries,” Faber says. “It's really cool to be able to shoot an e-mail to bakers across the country and in other countries to ask about a product or procedure. How should I make authentic Irish scones and soda bread? Contact an Irish baker. Make Epiphany cakes for our French community? Shoot an e-mail to a French pastry chef.”
Guild involvement also has opened opportunities for Timon and Faber to bring ethnic bakers and their creativity into Clear Flour. Such programs help to boost sales, Timon says, however, “We face the age-old question of not having enough people and time to make all of the great products we've discovered.” The solution to staffing artisan bakeries, she continues, is to attract young, eager employees.
“The business model that works is the small bakery in which the owner is directly involved in production,” Timon observes. “Artisan baking is hard work. We need to attract young people — 17-, 18-, 19-year olds — into our bakeries, train them and get them excited before they face the demands of families.”
This strategy, Faber says, has worked for Clear Flour because about 10 former employees eventually left to open their own bakeries. “We encourage this. We get better employees, and more people become exposed to and enjoy good bread. Now, we're seeing a second generation of bakers developing.
“No matter how much it pains me to see a skilled baker leave, it's a good thing. That baker creates a new business, which creates jobs, supports families and provides product people love.”