“There are a lot of things you don’t think about. You just want to bake cinnamon buns and cakes”.
Thirty-three years old Frida Leijon fell in love with baking when she was a teenager and, one bakery and two cafes later, she still has the same passion as when she first started.
Frida was born and raised in Uppsala, Sweden, where she did most of her studies. As part of her secondary school programme, she had to do some work experience: by coincidence, she was placed in a bakery and that rest is history. Frida soon realized that reading and writing were not her forte, while she had a natural flair for creative thinking. After finishing school, she decided to apply to a bakery and confectionery school, where she specialized.
After graduation, Frida embarked on a stellar career working for prestigious establishments in Stockholm, London, and Oslo. A very competitive baker, she participated in different competitions at national and international level and won Pastry chef of the Year in 2016. Attending the World Championship has been Frida’s biggest achievement to date and offered her many opportunities, including being part of the team that created the cake for the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia.
Frida has always been very competitive and, having built a successful career working for thirteen different employers, she realised she needed a new challenge. The time felt right to follow her original dream of opening her own bakery and pastry shop.
Leijon Stenugnsbageri & Konditori opened its doors in 2017 in Uppsala. Susanna, Frida’s partner in life as well as in business, was key in setting up the bakery. A pilot by profession, Susanna is very organised and methodical – skills that complement Frida’s creativity and would ensure the business’ sustainability. While Frida is responsible for the production, Susanna looks after the administrative and financial side of the company.
The bakery was up and running in only two months, as Frida and Susanna couldn’t afford a long period without an income. Setting up the business was expensive, so they asked for family and friends’ help to renovate the shop and only bought second-hand machinery to save as much money as they could.
Frida and Susanna also enrolled in NyforetagarCentrum’s programme, which provides support to entrepreneurs. They were paired up with a mentor who helped them with many aspects of the business, from strategic decisions to business plans. They also got a small loan by a microcredit organization to cover the initial expenses, and they later were granted a more substantial loan from a bank to buy the shop.
They faced some challenges at the beginning, the biggest one being the realization of how many administrative issues they needed to consider when setting up a business. Despite a rocky start, Frida’s business is flourishing: in 2018 they opened a small café by a train station and in August 2019 another café. They now employ 28 people, some working part-time and some full-time.
Frida and Susanna are keen to make production more streamlined and to focus on the quality of their products. They’re also considering some baking courses and group classes to provide a richer experience to their customers and strengthen their brand.
They have two pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs:
“First, surround yourself with experts and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Second, trust your gut feeling and do what you believe in.”
NyforetagarCentrum is a not-for-profit organization in Sweden that aims to help new entrepreneurs start viable businesses. It is part of the Youth Business Europe programme, a regional initiative supported by the Citi Foundation to help young entrepreneurs to start or grow a business.