Ed and Natasha Tatton, the husband and wife team behind Creekside’s organic and plant-based BReD bakery, are used to being told no. In fact, you could say that they thrive on opponents.
When they opened their store in the original ski village of Whistler, “there was actually quite a backlash from the locals who said, ‘Why are you opening in Creekside? Nobody goes to Creekside. Nothing works at Creekside. All the food and drink comes and goes, “and it was just negative, negative, negative,” recalls Natasha. “We just thought, ‘Yeah, well, we’ll show you.'”
Now, almost two years to the day since opening, and the Tattons have done well to prove the skeptics wrong – and their success has not gone unnoticed.
This week, the Small Business BC Awards announced that the couple were one of the five finalists in the Best Young Entrepreneur category, the culmination of a fan vote that placed them in the top 10, before a panel of judges reduced the finalists to the shortlist.
After a tumultuous year during a pandemic, this honor takes on added significance.
“We all want to go back to the simple, traditional ways of baking bread and bringing the community together. You’d think it would be hard to do because we’ve all been locked in our homes for the past year or so, but I feel like baking is part of everyone’s routine and people said that it was really great for their sanity, to be able to go down to the bakery once a week, to see familiar faces, to see people in the queue, ”Natasha said. “We have always created, in a strange way, a sense of community.”
For two people admitted to ‘non-technical’, the Tattons were able to tap into social media in new ways throughout the pandemic, regularly posting cooking video tutorials and amassing nearly 55,000 Instagram followers.
They also switched to an online pre-order system within 24 hours of Whistler Blackcomb shutting down in March 2020, before Victoria even released health and safety plans for the restaurant industry.
Natasha took the opportunity to strengthen her education by enrolling in a four-month course in sustainability and marketing through the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge.
This is another testament to the couple’s commitment to their ideals. Both vegans, they’ve taken every detail of their operation into account, from the natural ingredients they buy, to the sustainable packaging they use, and even the reclaimed maple wood that coats the interior of the store. And when health protocols put an end to those plans by banning the use of reusable cups in favor of single-use cups, the Tattons endorsed an initiative that plants a tree for every coffee sold.
Ed said it was the couple’s passion that made their business a success.
“We put everything in there,” he said. “We sold our house in the UK and borrowed huge sums of money, so that’s it for us. If that fails, it will affect us for the rest of our lives, so I think that’s where the motivation comes from. We have not received it from the family or inherited anything or come from any kind of wealth. It’s just the two of us, really.
With the dream of someday opening a second location in Vancouver, the Tattons once again hear a common refrain, which they will use to move them forward.
“When we talk to other people in the industry, they warn us about Vancouver because there is a lot of competition,” Natasha said. “You know what? That turns me on, because to me it’s the same negativity we had about opening up to Creekside.”
Then the finalists will have to present their company to a panel of judges on why they think it should win. The winners will be announced at a three-day virtual gala May 4-6.
Learn more about smallbusinessbc.ca/awards/gala.