Jan starts business selling sweet treasures
When the cruise ships stopped coming a year ago, Jan Quinn knew it was “hopeless” to keep a store open in Dockyard.
So, she and her business partner, Andrea Moniz, closed their physical Hand Made (Bermuda) Ltd store in the Clocktower Mall and moved the business online.
But things were still really slow, and Ms Quinn needed some extra income.
She turned to what she loves best, cooking.
“I already had a home bakery licence,” she said. “I used to make Bermuda cottage Christmas cakes.”
In January, she opened The Lost Treasure Home Bakery, specialising in English baked goods, treacle tarts, flapjacks, cake pops and other treats.
Her friend, Chris Bryan, offered her space at his store Bermuda Trader, in Pembroke on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Mr Bryan is a big fan of her cooking.
“I have never tasted anything made by Jan that didn’t taste good,” he said. “I have been to her house twice for a Mediterranean night where everything was made from scratch.”
And Ms Quinn said the location, at the junction of Cemetery Road and Woodlands Road, is working out great.
“We do get quite a bit of foot traffic,” she said.
Some day she sells everything and some days she does not.
“If people don’t know about it, then you end up eating treacle tarts all week, because they are left over,” she said.
But people are calling her more and more to ask for their favourite butter or treacle tarts.
She hopes the baked goods sales will lead to commissions on cakes and other baking projects.
“I have catered at Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society as a volunteer quite a few times,” she said.
She had a few cooking lessons growing up in London, but she is mostly self-taught.
“I experimented a lot,” she said. “I learnt from watching television cooking programmes. I also read cookbooks like they are novels. I particularly like cook books by Nigella Lawson. I like that her recipes turn out delicious. She also has a nice way of writing about them.”
To Ms Quinn, cooking is like magic.
“You fling a few things in a pot, and everyone is happy and they love you,” she said.
She does not know why she did not train to be a professional pastry chef when she was younger.
“My life has been a bit of a meander from one thing and another,” she said. “But I have always done stuff like this. I was baking and selling cakes when I was in my twenties.”
When she first came to Bermuda in 2007, her favourite British treats were hard to find in local grocery stores, so she became used to baking them herself.
First, however, she had to adjust to the different climate.
“One of the challenging things is using fondant when it is humid,” she said. “It is supposed to firm up a bit, but when it is humid it will keep absorbing water from the atmosphere. It is tricky. There are ways of getting around it. I didn’t know those ways before I came here. I didn’t need them before, but I know them now.”
Now, many of her customers are British expats longing for a taste of home. But she also has plenty of Bermudian customers, and people from other countries.
“I went all Canadian a couple of weeks ago because some of my Canadian friends asked me to make Nanaimo bars and butter tarts,” she said.
Customers are always asking her for a price list or a menu, but she does not really have one. She makes so many different things, she can not decide what to put on that list.
“Whatever list I do come up with, it is not definitive,” she said. “I am willing to tackle most things.”
She takes requests. If people call her by Wednesday, she can have what they want ready at Bermuda Trader by the weekend. People can also place special orders and have the goods delivered to their door.
For more information see The Lost Treasure Home Bakery on Facebook or call 536-4043.