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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