October 25, 2021
Hidden Gems: Meet Kelly Fenson-Hood of Red Branch Bakery
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Fenson-Hood.
Hi Kelly, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Red Branch Bakery is a family-owned, home-based bakery in Loveland. Our mission is to deliver happiness through simple, old-world baking techniques.
Our story starts with Kieran, my husband, and the baker. Originally from New York, where the bread is delicious and everyone knows about crumb cake, he was so disappointed in Colorado’s bread scene so he decided to learn to make a proper loaf of long-fermented sourdough. With his cooking background, sourdough quickly expanded to pretzels, rye, tea breads, cookies, and pies. I’m Kelly and coming from an entrepreneurial background, I saw an opportunity to build a business and fill Loveland’s bakery void. But instead of opening a brick-and-mortar store, with high overhead, long hours, and limited flexibility, I wanted to re-envision our business model to support a lifestyle where we could work from home, stay close to our baby and eventually establish the bakery as one component of a larger urban homesteading vision, complete with selling eggs, honey and organic produce.
February 9, 2021
We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Fenson-Hood & Kieran Murphy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly Fenson-Hood & Kieran Murphy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
We started our bakery without major funding, which forced us to take very strategic, calculated risks… and so far it’s paid off in spades. A great example was our decision to start the bakery under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act (cdphe.colorado.gov/cottage-foods-act), rather than opening a retail location. Under Cottage Foods we were able to bake out of our home kitchen and test our business model without making a huge investment. We did it for a year and quickly hit the ceiling to produce enough baked goods to meet the demand for our products. In the beginning of our second year (January 2020), we turned a 700 square-foot building, conveniently located in our backyard, into a large kitchen. We were able to scale up our operation at a minimal cost, while continuing to avoid the financial risk of operating a brick and mortar store. That decision quickly paid off when COVID hit a few months later. We were able to quickly and smoothly pivot our business model from being a “pop-up bakery,” selling baked goods at local breweries (similar to a food-truck), to online ordering with curbside pickup. Risk is often accompanied with a little luck. We live on a slightly busier street and decided to put a sign on the curb that read, “Sourdough Bread & Pies.” That sign drove tons of business and even though it was the middle of the pandemic, our sales increased 70% over one year without spending a dime on advertising. That sign worked hard for us. We worked hard to produce high-quality, consistent, hand-made products; and in return, our customers helped us grow through rave reviews and spreading the word to the community. Now we’re starting our third year. We again hit the ceiling for what we could produce so we’re expanding the kitchen and excited for what 2021 will bring.
July 1, 2019
VoyageDenver Meets Red Branch Bakery in Loveland
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kieran Murphy and Kelly Fenson-Hood.
Kieran and Kelly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in NY and moved to Colorado in 2014. Having bounced around through the restaurant and retail industries since I was 14, and coming from a passionate cooking family, the kitchen was never too far away from me.
Baking, however, was something that grabbed me a few years ago. When it got a hold of me, I fell hard. I was baking bread all the time and eventually, I started giving it to friends and family, who delivered a lot of great feedback. The idea to turn my love of baking bread into a business was really the brainchild of my wife, Kelly Fenson-Hood. Kelly grew up in Boulder and has been involved with start-ups since 2012, so she manages the business operations side of the bakery, as well as the cookie production.