Rebecca Brown has loved baking and the fine art of pastry-making since she was little. Her mom tells the story of how Rebecca rode her bike to the local strawberry patch and raced back home with the berries only to find they had become mush. Unfazed, she used the mushy berries to make strawberry tarts that sold out fast at a local farmers market. Her passion continued through high school, where she chose co-op placement at a bakery in her Ottawa Valley home town, and beyond. After attending culinary school in Ottawa she worked in Toronto’s competitive culinary scene before going back home.
In 2011, with encouragement from her mom, she moved to Prince Edward County, a place she had been hearing about and knew was a culinary hotspot. She was still on Maternity EI, had a seven-month old daughter, but she also had a dream. Rebecca approached PELA CFDC and the Ontario Self Employment Benefit Program with a business plan for a bakery in Picton. She opened the Pink Lunch Pail Bakery in a narrow little shop on Main Street in July of 2012. The Ontario Self Employment Benefit Program paid her salary for about 40 weeks, while she got the business up and running and worked to create a stable clientele. She says she owes a lot to the solid, consistent support from PELA CFDC and names the workers there who have her lasting gratitude: Craig, Ian, Katie and Carla. The County is that kind of place. It’s personal. Top of her list of cheerleaders is, of course, her mom. Grace Nyman, CommunityDevelopment Coordinator, assisted Rebecca through those first tough winter months by introducing her to the Winter Survival Workshop and featuring her cookies at a County-wide event Open Doors PEC. New clients were created overnight.
“Customers come to me because I offer the health conscious,
refined tastes that people demand these days.”
She doesn’t enjoy making the same products over and over again so her menu changes a lot and there’s always a surprise for the regulars. Having won acclaim for sweets and pastries, The Pink Lunch Pail recently added a savoury chef – a close friend of Rebecca – who will invest in the business and expand the current supply of dips and vegan food to meet demand.
Rebecca believes it’s a good time to start or relocate a business to this area, and particularly Picton. “It’s a great place for small business, because of the community atmosphere and everybody is so willing to help and share their knowledge.”
She understands the unique business cycle in the County, wryly calling it “feast or famine.” Summer months are busy with tourists and locals everywhere. Winter months are slow. Successful businesses plan for this and pace themselves. Rebecca and her Pink Lunch Pail scooped the Quinte Business Achievement Award for Young Entrepreneurs (which friends say left her uncharacteristically speechless.)
Judges at the venerable Picton Fair deemed her baking Best Overall for two years running. She’s happy with her little business and has no desire to grow big and bigger. She’s found her ideal spot, as one of the friendly small businesses that line the Main Streets of the County.
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