Stephanie Marshall started Treehouse Bakery in 2020, to make baking vegan treats simpler. “I make plant-based baking kits,” she says.

“They contain all the ingredients needed to make something delicious at home. All the recipes are plant-based and vegan. All our packaging is compostable or recyclable to make the kits as sustainable as possible.”

Stepanie, 32, does almost everything herself, from creating and testing the recipes to sending the boxes from her home near Stockport in Greater Manchester. The kits can be ordered online. Treehouse Bakery is a Starling business customer.

Stephanie provides recipes and ingredients for brownies, blondies and cookies, plus seasonal treats. “My main Christmas recipe is a bake and build gingerbread house, which comes with sweets to decorate it. A lot of people buy their gingerbread ready-made but I love baking it. It makes the house smell so good.”

Treehouse Bakery sells baking kits for vegan gingerbread houses

Turning an idea into a reality

Stephanie had the idea for her business several years ago. “When recipe boxes with fresh ingredients came onto the scene, I remember thinking I should do it for baking. But I had no idea how.”

Even so, the idea never left her. After working in the civil service and several other offices, she decided to leave her 9 to 5 and pursue her passion for baking. “I started working in a commercial bakery, where I spent six years,” she says.

Stephanie Marshall, founder of Treehouse Bakery

She left her job at the commercial bakery in February 2020, shortly before the UK went into lockdown. “Our family went into survival mode - the nursery closed so I spent a lot of time looking after our two-year-old and also did part-time work at a supermarket,” she says.

“Once the panic settled, I began to reflect on what was really important to me. The business idea of baking boxes had stuck with me so in May 2020, I broke it down one task at a time.”

She decided to make her kits vegan to reduce the carbon footprints of her business and her customers. “By choosing to eat more plant-based food, we can make an impact. Alternatives to eggs or dairy products have a lower carbon footprint,” she says.

A festive vegan cinnamon roll Christmas wreath

Stephanie launched Treehouse Bakery in September 2020. She has secured a number of media opportunities, including with local ITV news and a national newspaper.

Finding a supportive community

Stephanie’s advice for anyone who wants to start a business is to join a local or online business group. “My business group, which is called Good Business, is all women, many of whom are mums. It’s been such a source of support,” she says.

“We can talk about our marketing and finance issues and ask for help but we can also say, ‘My kid has chickenpox, how am I going to get my work done?’.”

Banking for business

It was through this business group that Stephanie found out about Starling. “Most of the other entrepreneurs had Starling and recommended it,” she says. “It’s really efficient and the user experience of the app is easy, convenient and attractive - I don’t feel like I’m banking.”

Stephanie does her own accounting and finds the app especially helpful. “I have all my transactions in Starling and I upload receipts through the app as I go along. I like the way spending is automatically categorised.”

Even though she runs a baking business, Stephanie still turns to baking to switch off. “Baking is a very meditative process - plus who doesn’t love the smell of cookies in the oven?”

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