Pantry Baked Goods | Leas Story

Lea of Pantry Baked Goods has a great story about her road to becoming a business owner. When I met up with Lea not only did I get to indulge in some yummy treats, but I also had the chance to learn more about her. Below is the full answer to the question “WHAT PATH LEAD YOU TO PANTRY BAKED GOODS”. If your interested on reading the full interview, head over to the initial blog post.


Ok, so I kept my other answers intentionally short as I knew this one would be a doozy. So here goes….

I’ve loved all things baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. Food was always a big part of my childhood. Both my parents were very interested in cooking so I guess I grew up with it. In my twenties, living with my now husband, I couldn’t get enough of Jamie Oliver and Nigella thanks to the Food Network, which was just starting out. That’s my interest in food and baking became a real passion. But it was still only a hobby then. The path to pbg however, was both a long road and sort of an accident.

For the long road part, I ultimately got tired of working for other people and realized I just didn’t feel passionate about what I was doing…which in my 20s was fine, but two decades, two kids and a lot more experience later, it had started to.

I’d been an Executive Assistant since getting my English degree at university. My longest and favourite role was at Indigo Books and Music head office in the city (where I eventually got to meet both Jamie and Nigella at book signings). I was there for almost 11 years and loved it, but once we moved, the 3 hour, daily commute started my shift in thinking. I wanted to spend less time commuting and more time with my boys. I wanted a change. I no longer felt much fulfillment in what I was doing. And being truly honest with myself, I knew I needed more of a challenge. I was being well-payed to not do very much and that didn’t sit well with me.

Lea Smye smiling in her kitchen

Lea  – Owner of Pantry Baked Goods.

So I finally pushed myself out of that comfortable nest for a role that while perfect on paper (and very close to home) ended up being anything but. It was so stressful I lasted just shy of the three-month probation before I quit out of desperation. I guess I was getting too old to put up with crazy work environments anymore.

Then an opportunity came to me just after I left – one that changed everything. A dear friend of mine’s sister and her husband were moving back to Canada from New Zealand to open a bakery. They knew my love of baking and cooking thanks to Facebook and Instagram posts, and offered me an apprentice baker role. It seemed a natural fit; the perfect solution to my career conundrum. Here was a chance to do something completely different and something I was really passionate about. In prep for it, I needed to get some solid skills and so took a certificate bakery essentials course at an accredited confectionery college. I also secured my food handler’s certificate which is a must in the food industry.

It was exciting and stimulating learning new techniques and amazing knowing I was going to be doing something I loved every day AND getting paid for it. And for a time, it was amazing. Not only was I baking, I was doing the bakery’s social media which I was good at. We had lots of great press and interest, and it seemed like a dream come true… until reality started to creep in.

Unfortunately, baker’s hours are early by necessity and brutal on the body. I was getting up at 3am to drive to the bakery (which was back down in the city) to start at 4am. I was done by noon but by early evening I had no energy to do anything but head back to bed. I was living a parallel life to my husband and kids which was awful. And that was in summer months with dry roads. I didn’t even want to contemplate what it would be like in winter. Add to that the dawning realization that I didn’t actually know my friends as well as I should have to work for them, I knew I needed out.

It was exciting and stimulating learning new techniques and amazing knowing I was going to be doing something I loved every day AND getting paid for it.

Queue another uninspiring admin role (I went back to what I knew after the bakery fail) which saw me working part-time for the next 6 months while baking more and more. It was then I finally realized what I needed was to put these past 3 years of experiences together and make them work for me. I still loved baking and it was starting to look like it could become viable, if small business. Plus, I knew I did not want another admin role. It was now or never. By this point the name “pantry baked goods” had come to light if only out of accidental necessity. It came from being asked for my logo after I’d donated some baked goods to a friend’s fundraiser. Because at that stage, I still didn’t have a “business”, I didn’t have a logo or even a name. Fortunately, my husband, who’s a print broker and has design experience was able to help. I came up with name on the spot and the design and he executed it. Both the name and the design I knew needed to be simple, authentic and clear. And almost two years later they both still fit.

By now months were passing and I was getting busier and busier with cake orders and decided to further to commit and head back to confectionery college to take their Designer Cakes course. I wanted to increase my skill and confidence level – and it did the trick. It helped me further focus and galvanize my desire to be my own boss. I already had a facebook page but knew a website was a must. I created one this summer, though now I’d like to update and refine it.

I’m thrilled to say this past October to January was my busiest time yet and I’m now looking to refining some of my processes so I can be more efficient and effective to help continue to foster and grow my business. I have high hopes for my little accidental business that it will soon grow up to be a fully realized, intentional and successful one.


I hope you found inspiration in Leas story! You can follow Pantry Baked Goods on facebook and instagram.