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Emma Steven­son, Vil­lage Bak­ery Store Man­ager Emma is part of the well-known Steven­son fam­ily of bak­ers. She grew up with the fam­ily busi­ness... How do you re­mem­ber Vil­lage Bak­ery as a child?

I’ve been here since I was a first born. I re­mem­ber the ladies that all worked here. A lot of them have now gone through uni and have been mar­ried and had chil­dren. They still come in here to­day to see me now that I have grown up through the ranks, be­cause we have had such a tight team.

I re­mem­ber Baker Bill, our lit­tle mas­cot that we had in the shop. I re­mem­ber all my friends at school com­ing in and say­ing ‘oh yeah, I know that’s the best bak­ery’. I re­mem­ber com­ing in when I was lit­tle with my par­ents putting up Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions at Christ­mas time and putting up Easter dec­o­ra­tions when I was too lit­tle and I couldn’t do it. I re­mem­ber fall­ing asleep on the chairs and watch­ing my dad bake the bread and bring home the new spe­cials, the new cakes that they had come up with, the new pies. And it was great.

Ev­ery per­son that we have work here is an ex­tended part of our fam­ily, and we call our­selves the Vil­lage Fam­ily.

So it’s beau­ti­ful, we have a great team.

Did you al­ways pic­ture your­self go­ing on to work with the fam­ily busi­ness?

Yes, al­ways. There was never re­ally any­thing else I wanted to do. I’ve watched my par­ents from a re­ally young age, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve been able to be un­der their wings a lit­tle bit and fol­low their lead­er­ship.

I have de­vel­oped busi­ness skills from watch­ing dif­fer­ent things that they have done and how they have grown as busi­ness own­ers them­selves.

So I’ve al­ways looked at it and thought ‘that’s all I want to do with my life’. It’s such an amaz­ing thing that our fam­ily has and I would never want to be any­where else.

What was your first role when you be­came in­volved within the busi­ness?

I started when I was 11 fold­ing cake boxes out the back. I started from the very bot­tom. And then when I was 14, I went be­hind the counter. I started to learn the POS sys­tems and the back of house kind of things. And then I stepped up the same way as ev­ery sin­gle per­son that comes and works here.

I be­came a Crew Trainer, I then went up to a Trainee Su­per­vi­sor, Su­per­vi­sor, As­sis­tant Man­ager, and now Store Man­ager. I’ve been Man­ager now for about six years. And I love that we did that be­cause ev­ery­one else has more re­spect for me.

I know ev­ery job, I know the ins and outs of ev­ery­thing. If I had jumped the ranks, I wouldn’t have the knowl­edge to re­act to things that need to be sorted.

What is it like work­ing in a fam­ily busi­ness?

It’s funny. You wouldn’t re­ally un­der­stand it un­less you were in it. I would say it is ac­tu­ally a bless­ing. Tay­lor Steven­son, my younger brother, is my As­sis­tant Man­ager, so he is my right hand and we don’t agree on ev­ery­thing, we have dif­fer­ent views. But I think that is what makes our busi­ness so spe­cial too, be­cause what one lacks the other one makes up in.

What do you like most about this busi­ness?

If any­thing, I think it is the peo­ple. I love the Dubbo com­mu­nity.

We work with 150 dif­fer­ent peo­ple. I have 50 here (at the Dar­ling Street bak­ery) and there are 100 up at our bak­ing site, so it’s mas­sive. I spend 90 per cent of my time here, but I do spend ten per cent of my time at Ear­lyrise as well, so get­ting to know those peo­ple is re­ally spe­cial.

Tell us about the char­i­ties that Vil­lage Bak­ery is in­volved with.

Ev­ery night we donate all the left­over food to dif­fer­ent char­i­ties. There are some churches and a few dif­fer­ent or­gan­ised soup kitchens. I vol­un­teer once a month at a soup kitchen on a Fri­day night. My part­ner does as well so we both do it to­gether.

We’ve just been in the Buy A Bale pro­gram, so we have just do­nated a dol­lar from ev­ery loaf of bread sold in a month, which amounted to over $5000.

We al­ways do breast cancer and home­less­ness cam­paigns, and we al­ways have a char­ity box on the counter. So we try and give back to the com­mu­nity as best we can as they give to us so well.

What is it like be­ing a young woman in the work­force?

In cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, I would say yes it has been chal­leng­ing. With my fam­ily, the re­spect is still there and it doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence. But some peo­ple when they first meet me think I am a lit­tle bit younger and don’t re­alise that I have had all the ex­pe­ri­ence and the fam­ily background.

I get a lit­tle bit un­der­es­ti­mated and then when I go and open my mouth, usu­ally they go ‘yep, okay, she knows what she’s talking about, let’s take her se­ri­ously’ (laughs). It hasn’t stopped me in any way.

I just love work­ing here. It has been our fam­ily his­tory for 100 years. My great grand­fa­ther was de­liv­er­ing goods off the back of a horse and cart and now we get to sell the same goods 100 years on to the Dubbo com­mu­nity. What a spe­cial thing to be able to be a part of.

- In­ter­view: Darcee Nixon. Photo: Wendy Mer­rick

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