Small Business Lessons: The Flourist team offers the recipe for bakery startup success

For our Small Business issue, we asked 14 B.C. businesses how they're surviving in this economy. Here's one of them


1 part Janna Bishop: A fashion designer working at MEC whose family is entrenched in the farming and agriculture business in Saskatchewan.

1 part Shira McDermott: A food-industry veteran who was working as sales and marketing manager for JJ Bean.

1 heaping concept around ethical, high-quality grains: “There were a lot of conversations about dairy, ethical meat, where your vegetables are from,” says Bishop. “No one was having that conversation about what truly makes up the bulk of our diets—carbohydrates.”


1. In 2017, start making and selling your own flour through pop-ups. “We realized the best way to convince someone that flour is best when it’s stone milled was to bake it into things,” says Bishop. “They realize it tastes better and also makes you feel better.”

2. In 2019, open a flagship bakery/mill with no outside funding in an otherwise off-the-beaten-path Commercial Street location. “We were building a following really diligently for so long, so we had a lot of support right away,” says Bishop. “The neighbourhood came out and supported us here.”

3. Before COVID even hits, adapt. “We couldn’t close—there was no reality where this business couldn’t continue serving people in some capacity,” says Bishop. As rumblings of the pandemic started across the world, the Flourist team started making contingency plans, ultimately settling on figuring out a way to do home deliveries. “It was clumsy and scrappy. But that two-week head start helped us.”

4. After you’ve become one of the last places in the city that has flour, ride that for a while. “It was growth like you can’t imagine,” says Bishop. Then, when things calm down a bit, open up a takeout window.

5. In 2021, open a Hastings Street location, move warehouse delivery there and open up a second mill. Continue to offer delivery every day.

6. Tinker with the menu occasionally, and try to bring in new customers while taking care of old ones. Start hosting pizza nights on Fridays and experiment with a cracker that ultimately could be sold in grocery stores. “Where can we offer a ton of value, but capture people’s money in a different way?” says Bishop.

7. Look for a big third location, ideally on a main street. “Developers are happy to talk to us now; before, they didn’t know us,” says Bishop. “We’d like to be somewhere with more foot traffic.” Add salt to taste.