Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations Profiles
Editor’s Letter: Women who lead

March 9, 2022  ByColleen Cross


Janet and Tracey Muzzolini represent two high-achieving generations of Saskatoon’s Christies Mayfair Bakery. PHOTOS: CHRISTIES MAYFAIR BAKERY

When given an opportunity, women can successfully start and lead businesses in the baking industry.

That is clear from our conversations with female bakers and bakery owners.

What’s also clear is that women will make their own opportunity where one doesn’t exist. Or at least they will carry on working, learning, building their business plan, and most of all believing, to make their baking dreams a reality even when the opportunities don’t seem to be there.

How do they do that? They refuse to accept no for an answer, they find other sources of money and support to get up and running, and they work twice as hard as their male counterparts to be debt-free and sustainably successful.

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Because for any entrepreneur failure is not an option.

We hear in this issue from pioneering women in the bakery business who faced obstacles and attitudes from banks when they applied for loans to get the business started and who created a new model and definition of success.

Mother and daughter Janet and Tracey Muzzolini represent two generations of their family business Christies Mayfair Bakery in Saskatoon. Janet pushed through when encountering dismissive attitudes at the banks and, years later, Tracey blazed a trail in male-dominated artisan baking. Tracey represents a later generation of women in the industry who did not face the same level of discrimination, but still understand that we’re not quite there yet.

Tabitha Langel, co-founder and co-owner of Tall Grass Bakery/Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company in Winnipeg, illustrates that success is not about unchecked growth but about doing right by the farmers and the land while sustaining a community. 

Geneviève Gagnon started her business, La Fourmi, on a shoestring, due to a determination not to be in debt, and faced a long haul. Gagnon created her own model for success in which family and work life is lovingly balanced, as you’ll read in our cover story.

All of these women continue to knock down barriers, educate others on the special traits women bring to running their own businesses and the individuality of women in the art, science and business of baking.

We’ve called this issue “Women who lead” for a reason. Although there are many women working in commercial and small bakeries, food-service and catering businesses, there are still relatively few that own or manage those businesses. 

Cheryl Appleton, founder of Canadian Women in Food, spoke with us for an interesting Q-and-A. Appleton, who will speak on a panel on “Inclusive and Diverse Businesses at the RC Show in May, ended our conversation on a feisty note:

“The future is female. Change has been a long time coming, but it’s coming: by the year 2030, 60 per cent of wealth will be held in the hands of women. It’s a huge shift. Where do you think women want to spend their money and who do you think they want to support? If you have a business and you haven’t figured out how to approach women, how to work with them, cultivate them and connect with them, you’re missing out.”

On another note, we hope to meet lots of talented and hardworking women and men in baking at the BAC’s Bakery Showcase April 10-11 in Toronto. We at Bakers Journal encourage you to attend the show, spread the word to others, or support the industry as a sponsor or exhibitor. You’ll find the details in our preview in this issue. See you there! / BJ


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