Tell us a little about yourself and Fannie-Anne's, how the company was born and how you came up with the idea of creating vegan cakes and sweet treats
My name is Steph and I am the owner of Fannie-Anne’s. We are proud to be a 100% vegan, family run, home based bakery in Brackley. Everything we bake here is vegan. We carry a 5 star food hygiene rating and also produce gluten free, soya free and nut free bakes. I run my business around my three official taste testers, my husband Gareth and our two little boys. We also share our home with Milo the cat who, now out in the big wide world, occasionally graces us with his presence!
Fannie-Anne’s was born in early 2019, we are fast approaching our 2 year anniversary! I have been vegan now for 6 years and I always found it difficult to find tasty vegan treats to go with my coffee or a yummy dessert when out for lunch. I have always enjoyed baking and so, encouraged by my husband, I started doing a bit of baking for family and friends, and soon branched out to baking for local customers in and around Brackley. I ran a stall at Brackley market last year and before long, began supplying local coffee shops and pubs with delicious vegan bakes.
Like many small businesses, my bakery has had to change somewhat over the last 8 months and it hasn’t by any means been easy. However we now supply 4 local businesses with their vegan bakes, have a postal delivery service for our traybaked goods, attend local and national vegan markets and create delicious celebration cakes for our local vegan and dairy free community.
What is your favourite vegan product and why?
There are so many vegan products out there now. There was a time that you could only really find vegan goods in health food shops and niche markets. However now, popping into Tesco, you can find alternatives in almost every aisle. My absolute favourite vegan product at the moment is Honea, a bee friendly alternative to honey. It’s absolutely delicious and comes in a variety of flavours (much like bees honey can have localised flavours and of the flowers the nectar has been harvested from). I buy mine from Tom’s Vegan Deli in Lock29 in Banbury.
My favourite bake that I make at the moment is also probably my most popular. My Biscoff celebration cake is delicious and never lasts too long in our house!
What makes you different from the competition?
There are several places locally now that you can buy vegan bakes and cakes from. A few years ago, there were none. This is fantastic news for vegans and makes it easier for people to buy vegan too! However what sets me apart from these places is that I share those vegan ethics, which are incredibly important to us and are what often stops us buying from other, often larger businesses. There is no chance of any cross contamination of dairy or egg products in my kitchen. I feel this is incredibly important both from an allergen point of view and also for those that don’t wish to purchase goods from someone who uses animal products in the rest of their baking.
How has the Brackley community received your products?
When I first started selling my cakes at the market, many people still didn’t know what ‘vegan’ meant and often confused it with being gluten free. It sounds strange saying that now as just 12 months on, it’s become so much more understood. Even the Great British Bake Off had a vegan week last year! I have only ever received encouragement from the people I have spoken too though and often praise from people happy to see a vegan business in their local community. I have met so many new people and I have even made new friends as a result of people trying and enjoying my cakes. I’m very grateful to the Brackley community for helping me grow my little business. I must say a special thanks to Helen Brawn and Caren Benstead for shouting about me in the very early days. I don’t think I would have reached as many people if it wasn’t with the help of their own small businesses.
If someone wanted to become vegan, what would you suggest as the first step?
I have been asked a few times, what the best way to become vegan is and I think it really depends on where you are and what your reasons are for doing it. I think the best advice I could give is not to rush. Make one change at a time and make sure that works for you. Don’t like soya milk? Try oat or almond milk in your coffee or tea. Have meat free Monday and switch out your beef mince for soya mince in your spag bol. Little changes are likely to be more successful than if you try and change everything at once. Always keep in mind why you want to do it too. Whether it is for your health, the planet or for the animals, all your reasons are important.
What’s in store for the future? Are you planning to expand your range of vegan products?
Our immediate future remains a bit quiet as so many events have been cancelled or postponed, however there are a couple of markets we are looking forward to in the lead up to Christmas, including the Brackley Open Air Christmas shopping event on 22nd November. I am always thinking up new recipe ideas and flavour combinations and will be launching another new flavour bake before Christmas to go alongside my S’mores Brownies. I am hopeful that 2021 will see the return of more outdoor markets and perhaps you will even see more of my bakes in your local coffee shop!