Erin Baker’s Baked Goods: One Of Bellingham’s Best Exports
Erin Baker’s breakfast cookies may be the most recognizable product made in Bellingham. They can be purchased in grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and even on Western’s campus. When you mention “the breakfast cookies” people know what you’re talking about. Erin is a homegrown success story, but her business certainly isn’t limited to Whatcom County.
Over the past 20 years Baker’s company has grown from one person baking small batches of goods for three local shops to producing baked goods on an industrial scale. Erin Baker’s products can now be found across the country, and the company has been featured in several national media outlets including O (the Oprah magazine) and the Food Network.
So how did this local wonder get started?
Birth Of A Business
Erin Baker began her operation in a humble and distinctively Northwestern fashion: delivering her cookies by bike. In 1994 she acquired three contracts to deliver fresh cookies and biscotti to coffee shops in her area. The blue Schwinn bike that she used to make deliveries can still be found in the bakery’s retail store.
After two years of baking at home and delivering by bike, Erin moved to Bellingham in 1996 because she felt the area meshed nicely with the healthy philosophy that inspired her baking. Over the next few years she was able to ramp up production, originally renting a kitchen from Avenue Bread, hiring her first employee, and by 2003 acquiring the machinery necessary to automate part of the production process.
As the business grew, it underwent some necessary changes as well. In 2006, With the introduction of granola and mini-cookies the name was changed from Baker’s Breakfast Cookies to Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods. At the same time, the company changed its packaging and website design to accommodate new products and online sales. The changes paved the way for the major publicity the business was about to receive.
In 2007 Erin Baker’s was featured on the Food Network show Unwrapped, with direct reference being made to the online offerings during the segment. The resulting response was incredible for the company, and business spread across the country. In the following years the company also supported U.S. Olympians, received commendations in Women’s Health Magazine, and had its homestyle granola featured in Oprah Magazine.
By 2012 business had increased to the point where a new production facility was necessary, and the company moved its entire operation to the current location on Ohio St., complete with a retail store. By 2014 the breakfast cookies were being sold at Target, Walmart, and served on Delta Airlines flights, and Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods ranked as one of Bellingham’s most popular and well-known locally produced products.
Now that Erin Baker’s employs over 30 people, ships across the country, and has been featured in national media, what’s next? In November of 2014 the company hired Rob McCormack as Chief Operating Officer, and he shared his thoughts with us on the future of the company.
“If we grow our business, that’s great, but more importantly…[with growth] we can give more to the community.”
What that means specifically, McCormack explained, is that the company wants to continue its outreach efforts, both locally and across the country. Erin Baker’s already partners with several local Boys and Girls Clubs. They would like to expand that relationship, and reach out to additional charitable organizations as well.
As to why the company does so well locally, McCormack explains that Bellingham is a great place for the company to operate because everyone in the area, including the employees, have an active and health-conscious lifestyle. It makes sense for a company that sells a healthy product to be based here. He also pointed out the collaborative business environment of the city. Part of the benefit of their current location is having the retail store, which McCormack says is great for getting direct feedback from customers.
We hope that over the next 20 years, Erin Baker’s continues to enjoy the success the company saw in its first 20 years. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share about the company as they celebrate their 20th anniversary? Let us know in the comments!