The Indie Series – Naomi Longfield, owner of Studio 28 Patisserie

Naomi Longfield is owner of Newcastle-based Studio 28 Patisserie at Hoults Yard. She discusses running an independent business in the North East, and how she has had adapted to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic

Tell us about your business…

Studio 28 Patisserie is a high-end chocolate and pastry shop, which I set up in 2018 after training in pastry and chocolate for 10 years with some of the top chocolatiers and pastry chefs in the UK. We are a small independent business with aim of bringing high quality and beautiful cakes, chocolate and pastry to the region.

What is the most rewarding aspect of running an independent business in the region?

There are many aspects which we enjoy about being back in the North to run the business. People are looking for high quality, handmade products which are ethically produced with a focus on being safe for the environment. We feel supported by so many people in the region and getting to know customers is a highlight for me having worked in kitchens where I didn’t get to interact with customers.

And the most challenging?

We’ve found the need to adapt the way we approach and develop the product to both showcase what we enjoy making and introduce a high-quality product which customers can learn to appreciate. People want to spend in independent shops however it’s a journey in which we are taking people on to begin to enjoy the cakes we make.

What are the short and long-term plans for the business?

Short-term we are working on delivering products to people in specific postcode areas while lockdown continues. We have introduced celebration cakes for click and collect, which are proving very popular with people not able to enjoy birthdays with loved ones. We’ve also introduced COVID-19 Emergency Treat boxes, which have gone down very well!

Looking more long-term, we want to reintroduce classes, adding in day long classes for pastry chefs or those keen to learn more at a higher level.

What advice would you give to anyone with a business idea?

I have found the combination of working in a small business and a much larger business extremely helpful.

Working in a small business gives you the experience of what owning your own business will involve and help you to network within the small business community. When you set up it’s an incredible blessing to have friends who are further along the journey who can help you out!

Larger businesses will generally have the resources to allow you to develop new dishes and ideas which isn’t always possible in a smaller setup.

Immerse yourself in whatever experience you get and be willing to learn from every opportunity you are given.

How has your business been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

It’s been a challenging yet positive time for the business. Taking the decision to close the business for six weeks was nerve-wracking, especially not knowing when we might open and when we did open it would need to be a very different model we used.

However I was able to spend the time while we were closed to redesign the packaging, a job which took hours of research design time I would not have been able to afford had we stayed open. I worked hard to create environmentally friendly packaging and redesign a lot of the products.

Many people have become more aware of small local business so on reopening we have been blown away by people’s support and encouragement.

Have you adapted your service in light of these challenges?

We have begun doing deliveries to specific postcode areas three days a week. We have introduced a click and collect service for cakes and hope to do this with other shop items in the near future. We are looking to introduce a weekly or bi-weekly facebook live session to do some teaching and keep people engaged in what is going on.

Studio 28

Photograph by: Chris Bishop