Global acclaim for our Lynsey’s top brownies
Former nurse Lynsey Bleakley is savouring international endorsement for the luxury brownies she crafts by hand in a small bakehouse at Ballyholme, near Bangor.
Lynsey (44) runs the quirky Bumble and Goose bakery with husband and Jim which has just been recognised for the ‘Best Luxury Brownies in Northern Ireland’ in the annual Food and Drink Awards organised by Luxlife magazine in London, a premium lifestyle publication distributed globally to over 230,000 people.
She’s justifiably “thrilled by such an exciting international award for my luxury brownies”.
“It’s a very prestigious award that came as a complete surprise,” she continues. “We are all immensely encouraged to see our brownies featured in such an influential publication and hope that it will boost business especially through our e-commerce site.”
The awards seek “to commend those who go above and beyond for their customers and/or consumers to ensure that their appetites are catered for, especially in light of the recent Covid-19 outbreak which has seen many businesses in the food and drink industry face unprecedented challenges”.
The Luxlife award is not the first accolade that the talented Lynsey has won for her delicious home bakes. She also won Theo Paphitis’s #SBS (Small Business Sunday) last November, which had “a huge impact on our digital presence”, she adds.
And the Rev Richard Cole, a star of a recent Strictly Come Dancing series and once a member of the Communards, a chart topping band of the 1980s, described Lynsey’s creation as the ‘king of brownies’ on his radio show.
The small bakery was launched by Lynsey more than a year ago on the back of 18 years in frontline nursing and a further 12 as a health visitor.
“While I loved my career in the NHS I felt the need for a change and to do something completely different. I had been baking with my mother from my childhood and continued as a hobby during my time in the NHS,” she says. “I’d make brownies, cakes and biscuits for my NHS colleagues as well as for family and friends. They encouraged me to think seriously about setting up a small bakery.”
Lynsey, mother of a 20-year old daughter, a university student, describes her business as “a luxury bakehouse, delivering gift boxes of happiness across the UK and Ireland”. In addition to the award-winning brownies, the bakery produces delicious rocky roads, macarons, fudge, personalised biscuits and stunning cakes.
“We bake and gift box our treats for doorstep delivery across UK and Ireland as well as local delivery for cakes,” she continues.
Her personalised biscuits proved to be extremely popular as a gift during the pandemic. “Customers have used our boxes to send goodwill messages to family and friends throughout the UK and other parts of Europe,” she says. “We love sending out virtual hugs in the form of our delicious treats as birthday gifts. They’ve also become popular with corporate customers as wellness hampers for clients and staff. Corporate clients now account for around 50 percent of Lynsey’s order book. They make gorgeous gifts, a perfect pick-me-up for a friend, a reward for a hard-working team, a lockdown treat for the family or some well-deserved self-indulgence.”
She adapted to the business challenges of the lockdowns by upgrading the company’s e-commerce site and also by making all its delicate handcrafted brownies, biscuits and cakes postable or deliverable by courier. “We also launched a collaboration with ‘Sketchy Muma’ artist Anna Lewis, who has helped us to create a range of biscuits sporting her distinctive artwork. The response has been amazing so far,” says Lynsey.
She puts the popularity of her creations down to high quality ingredients from local suppliers: “We’ve teamed up with local luxury brands such as Root & Branch Coffee in Belfast and Donaghadee’s Copeland Distillery in creating novel products that showcase the brands on a larger platform. This also helps support local jobs. Even our boxes are made just a few miles away from our base in Ballyholme.”
As well as quality dairy milk chocolate, Lynsey’s acclaimed brownies are made from Dale Farm Butter in Ballymena, Neill’s Flour in Belfast and free range eggs from a local farm.
Why Bumble and Goose? “I wanted a quirky identity, something that’s a bit of fun and different from traditional bakeries and cake shops. It’s a name that evolved over many months,” she explains.
Advice and assistance on business came from the local council’s start up scheme and support in developing the products from Invest NI’s Innovation Voucher programme. “Both were extremely important to us in getting the business up and running successfully,” she adds.
What does the future hold for Bumble and Goose? “The one thing we won’t be doing is to open shop and to grow substantially in terms of output. We will continue as a niche baker of premium and exceptionally tasty and indulgent treats,” Lynsey says.
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