TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I have quite an eclectic background. I trained in theatre design at Leeds university , went into styling and fashion management until I got my dream job as a visual merchandiser. I travelled Europe and even went to Tokyo working in show rooms, and shop merchandising. I was made redundant so decided to train as a Design Technology teacher. I taught for 6 years with my most recent job being the head of food in a school in Tottenham.
WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA FOR NORAH’S BROWNIES?
I was on maternity leave with my second daughter Norah, I was planning on going back to work, however, the school didn’t quite have the same idea (not sure I should really be saying this) I had a choice of using some extra time to start a new business or extend my maternity leave and look for a new job. I sat at my kitchen table and said to myself. I need to come up with an idea. It felt like I was on the apprentice but I was the only team member. I’ve always taught that you can be the best at what you know. And what I know is food and how to make it look pretty.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN NUTRITION AND HEALTHY BAKING?
Even though I taught food nutrition, most of my interest in healthy baking comes from being a Type 1 diabetic. I have been on many courses to learn about carb counting and the effect of sugar on the body. My husband is also gluten and dairy free so I was set a challenge to bake something that we both liked.
WHERE/WHEN DID YOU LEARN TO BAKE?
I learnt to bake properly when I took on teaching food GCSE, I realised I had to scrub up on my profiteroles to ensure zero embarrassment. I baked everything in the baking book about 5 times so I would never get caught out.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS FROM FOR YOUR BROWNIES? THE FLAVOURS, TOPPINGS, DECORATIONS, ETC.
I try to stick to healthy toppings, so dried fruit and nuts were my first toppings, I then started discovering gluten free and sugar free foods like the pretzels and marshmallows which have been fun to make. Everything I do is very organic. I never have a plan I just do and I wait to see if I like the look of it. I guess its like painting you have a rough idea, but sometimes it turns out a lot different to how you thought it was going to. I am influenced by my environment so living in Hackney inspires a lot of my work.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO TO WITH YOUR KIDS/YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE JUST YOU?
I live next to Victoria Park and it is by far the best park in London. We can be there for hours with so much to do. In the summer they have water fountains that keep the girls entertained. Just me, that’s a hard one, there is never time for just me…. But when we go to Shoreditch house on the weekend I quite often sneak off and leave the girls with my husband so I can curl up on a sofa and read.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BAKERY?
The Luminary Bakery is a bakery amazing, its run by a lady called Alice who is a total inspiration. The bakery support and teach women from difficult backgrounds to bake and how to run their own business. It’s an awesome project and I’m excited about working with them in the future.
IF YOU COULD COLLOBARATE WITH ANYONE WHO WOULD THIS BE? WHY?
This is also a hard question, its taken me all day to think of who. I like collaborating with like minded people and businesses. I could do a Camille Walala collection, I love her.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO US?
I met Camille Walala last weekend and I asked her could she give me any advice about being a creative and running a business on your own. She said. its hard hard work, as long as you know that then they’ll be no surprises. It definitely is the hardest thing I have ever done. My advice to others would be, if you don’t love it don’t do it, you can’t force a small business, otherwise you’ll become bored or irritated by it. It really does have to be something you truly believe in and believe will work
IF YOU WEREN’T BUSY RUNNING NORAH’S BROWNIES, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR SECOND DREAM JOB?
That would probably be a food photographer or something back to my visual merchandising days, I just love making dispalys.
WHO IS YOUR ICON, SOMEONE YOU LOOK UP TO? WHY?
Icon is quite a big word, I’m not sure I have anyone that fits in to that category. But I am inspired by companies like Meringue Girls who started off on a market stall in Broadway Markets’ school yard and now they are thriving company. They motivate me into thinking if you can make a business out of meringues I can make a business out of brownies.
WE LOVE MUSIC AT GIRLSTALKTOBOYS, WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?
ANYTHING YOU ARE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT? ANY
I working on getting my product out to more cafes. I’m working with some in Enfield, Walthamstow and Southfields so watch out if you live in those areas.
Thank you Leah for this wonderful chit chat! Please head over to her website and place your orders now!!! You can also book her in for parties.