Monday, December 22, 2014

bakery seeks funds through crowsourcing, would provide jobs for those with developmental disabilities

by Larissa Mulkern from
WOLFEBORO — Professionally trained pastry chef Katie Johnson intends to raise more than just bread dough when she opens her new bakery, From Scratch Baking Co., this spring at 45 North Main Street.

Johnson, 29, a 2004 graduate of Kingswood Regional High School, intends to raise awareness and understanding by staffing her new business with workers with developmental disabilities. One of those workers will be her older sister, Kristin, who has Down syndrome but inspires Katie every day.
“I founded the bakery on the principle that while people with disabilities may have a unique set of challenges, they also have incredible talents and skills to offer the workplace.
“Kristin proves this every single day. She has taught me a lot about life and people — she’s very joyful. She tells is like it is.”
And Kristin happens to be very precise, a skill useful when measuring out ingredients, for instance, Katie noted during a recent tour of the new bakery location. Renovations are under way at the former site of the Evergrain natural food store.
Johnson said she chose to open as a business, rather than a nonprofit, to prove that working with people with disabilities is a viable business decision and does not need to be seen as charity. Her employees will work in baking, customer service and landscaping, with each employee matched with a role that aligns with their individual skill sets and talents.

Johnson brings her own unique skill set to her new venture. Before earning her degree in baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Rhode Island and then taught fourth-graders at the Cornerstone Christian Academy in Ossipee, following in the footsteps of her mom, former educator Gail Johnson, who now is a full-time home care provider with Northern Human Services. Gail Johnson said her daughter is committed “100 percent” to everything she chooses to do, and in this case has the ideal skill set — teaching and baking — to break down each task and teach that task to her employees.
“I think the bakery itself is going to be great, and the staff will be able to show their stuff — their loyalty and abilities. Other people in the local business community will start to see the possibilities and open their doors to the workers with developmental challenges,” she added.
Katie Johnson said the bakery/café will serve traditional baked goods, as well as vegan and gluten-free recipes. Wedding cakes will be a specialty.

“There are so many weddings here in the summer,” she said. The local business community has been very supportive of this new venture, she said.

Funding deadline approaches

To launch the business, Johnson took to a crowd-funding source, Indiegogo, to raise the $65,000 in start-up costs. The 30-day campaign ends Dec. 24. Thus far, the venture has raised just less than $29,000, but unlike some other crowd funders that require pledges for the total goal, Johnson will be able to use however much funding she receives up to the deadline. Johnson’s video and presentation is available on the Indiegogo site,
Johnson said she hopes the business model will serve as an example to other business owners who will in turn hire and train those with developmental challenges.

Gail Johnson said there is a shortage of jobs for people with disabilities, but through interacting with employees at the new bakery, the public will realize that “everybody has value.”

“Everybody has potential. It’s going to open the eyes of patrons, and staff,” she said.
The From Scratch Baking Comp. plans a soft opening in spring 2015.

For more information, go to, email Katie Johnson at, or call her at 502-0688.

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