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The Artful Baker

Meet the Successful Founder: Paul Rostand of The Artful Baker

In the latest chapter of its revolution, The Great British Biscotti Company will in January 2022 transition 100% into The Artful Baker, a stylish sub-brand with global appeal which was initially established to target the distinct needs of discerning types.

The Great British Biscotti Company launched in early 2017 courtesy of a nagging suspicion that this vintage biscuit could become so much more than a rock solid almondy nibble, especially at a time when the frothy coffee revolution was gaining momentum and fitting hot beverage accompaniments were in short supply.

Biscotti begun their life as essential Roman legionnaire knapsack fodder, for Rome’s invading foot soldiers (they were the energy bar of their day), with many believing that this was the moment biscuit appreciation became one of the lesser-known cultural outcomes of these invading garrisons.

What Paul felt was needed was a far-reaching range of sublime flavour marriages and a uniquely English take on a classic biscuit that retained all the crunchiness but none of jaw-aching pain for which it was infamous.  Probably the real head-turning moment was when Paul and his small huddle of artisanal bakers wondered aloud if biscotti could make the transition into savoury, taking on dreary crackers and becoming the perfect accompaniment to a well-stocked cheeseboard, canapes, charcuterie tray… Yes biscotti had undoubtedly started out as a Tuscan delicacy but were now turning into a sumptuous ‘slow food’ treat that appealed to coffee connoisseurs, tea dunkers, cheeseboard enthusiasts, serial snackers and any other inquisitive champion of British artisanal fayre.

You’ll see on the new Artisanal Baker packaging (as with the Great British pouches before) that Made in Dorset sits very proudly on pack since this is a biscuit range with proud roots that’s justifiably proud of its South West ties and its unrivalled foodie credentials. 

The business began with the help of two small table top ovens and a small domestic Kenwood Chef mixer. In June 2017 the growing team was housed in its first industrial unit (1,500sq fit), which at the time felt like moving into an industrial mansion.  Today we reside in our 3rd artisanal bakery down the road, which at 4,000 sq feet is already starting to squeak at the seams.

It might not be what any future wannabee entrepreneur wants to hear, however there’s no getting away from the fact that a fledgling business (for the early years at least) takes over your life!  It’s literally 18 hours a day, 7 days a week with many sleepless nights wondering about whether you’ll hit order timelines, be chosen for the Department of International Trade’s next export push, or even if you have enough funds to make it all the way to the next funding round. Early doors it’s ‘fun stress’ but this can quickly evolve into ‘deep stressed,’ which needs to be carefully managed if its not to undermine your longer-term health.  I don’t have the full answer to that problem, but for me mindfulness and meditation really helps!

Nothing generates momentum more than success (small and large) and we’re lucky that in key moments of hardship good fortune has smiled on us; be that winning a National Trust listing in our formative years, debuting in John Lewis, Cook Stores and Ocado, but perhaps most excitingly of all (thus far) the creation of longstanding ties with Hotel Chocolat, where we produce the very biscotti that are used in tandem with their headlining chocolate velvetiser.

Export is yet another key avenue of optimism for our business which took on a Scandinavian twist the other month with our first pallet arriving in Norway, yet another upbeat twist in The Artful Bakers adventure which has already seen pallets dispatched to places as far field as Canada, The United States, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore and EVEN Italy!  In 2020 we once again worked alongside The Department of Trade & Industry, as part of their exploratory B2C website, The Great British Food Store.

But undoubtedly our biggest breakthrough moment thus far was being chosen ahead of 80 or so of our fine baking peers to become the inaugural winner of Warburtons Batch Ventures Bakery Innovation fund, which provides us with invaluable access both to monies and unrivalled bakery prowess.

It was just such information swapping that led to us making significant strides in both our vegan and gluten-free offer, something that the hotel fraternity and upmarket coffee chains had been requesting for months.

Hotels, hospitality and hamper providers have incidentally become three of our fastest growing channels in recent years especially the former, where clued up hotel mangers not see our product as nice differentiators in their coffee bars, but as that nice extra touch in each and every bedroom.

There were certainly some ‘dark’ months at the height of Lockdown with the all-important foodservice strand (catering and cafes) of our business closing down at the height of the pandemic and yet strangely this negative has slowly metamorphosed into a positive, with more independent hotel chains than ever looking for those small, thoughtful ‘extra touches’ that will help differentiate themselves from their rivals.

Biscuits it appears are integral to the Brits snacking DNA with the average family now munching their way through an incredible 106 packs a year.  Yes, the healthier living agenda is more vocal than ever, but in reality, this only helps businesses like The Artful Bakers prosper as the focus moves to purchasing smaller quantities of superior quality fayre.

There’s no doubt that our new Artful Bakers positioning gives our brand more cosmopolitan appeal but that doesn’t mean for a moment that we won’t forever grateful to our original Great British Biscotti offering which has allowed us to find our distinct voice in an overcrowded marketplace