The Biskery Chapel Allerton: Meet the women behind the booming Leeds biscuit company started with just £1k

Lisa Shepherd and Saskia Roskam founded their Leeds biscuit business with just £500 each.
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The owners of The Biskery, formerly known as Bloom Bakers, now expect to sell 300,000 personalised biscuits this year from their bespoke bakery in Chapel Allerton. They’ve worked with huge brands including Fendi, the BBC and Penguin, but it all started from their kitchen tables.

The pair, who met while working at a digital marketing agency, made plans to start a business at the end of 2015 - and the next year they began selling their bakes at markets.

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Lisa, 37, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We never had a clear plan of where we wanted this to go. We were mums to young children and it was our little happy place, where we could just have fun and see where it took us. And it took us to wonderful places.”

Saskia Roskam (left) and Lisa Shepherd are the founders of The Biskery, which has a bakery in Chapel Allerton (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)Saskia Roskam (left) and Lisa Shepherd are the founders of The Biskery, which has a bakery in Chapel Allerton (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
Saskia Roskam (left) and Lisa Shepherd are the founders of The Biskery, which has a bakery in Chapel Allerton (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Lisa and Saskia incorporate recipes from their German and Dutch heritage in their range - and their initial USP was bringing bakes from their home countries, including Lisa’s grandmother’s recipes, to markets across Yorkshire.

The pair moved into the gifting world following a request from a customer, who asked for a personalised box of biscuits for a friend who had recently had a baby. During lockdown, The Biskery launched ‘kindness biscuits’, where customers could nominate a loved one to receive a free biscuit, delivered with a hand-written note.

Lisa said: “That really was what made us, rather than what broke us, in the pandemic - when so many small businesses couldn’t survive. It came from the heart and showed us how far you can go when you do something like that with conviction. The power of kindness has to be at the forefront of what we do.”

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As well as selling personalised, hand-iced and branded biscuits and cookies online, The Biskery also runs corporate events, where they can print any image onto a biscuit in minutes using an edible ink printer.

The Biskery offers personalised, hand-iced and branded biscuits and cookies online, as well as running corporate events (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)The Biskery offers personalised, hand-iced and branded biscuits and cookies online, as well as running corporate events (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
The Biskery offers personalised, hand-iced and branded biscuits and cookies online, as well as running corporate events (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

And The Biskery opened a new bakery in Chapel Allerton in November, which has allowed Lisa and Saskia to triple production and expand their team to nine members of staff - all able to work around childcare commitments.

Saskia, 40, said: “I think, especially for women, we always feel like we have to choose. We want to do well at home, we want to provide for our children and nurture our children well. But at the same time, we want to be good in our jobs and our career.

“That reality is hard and it comes with a huge amount of guilt and unkindness towards yourself. You feel like you’re doing your best but your best is never good enough. So we felt that something had to change there. We’ve built the business in such a way that it’s more sustainable for women who want to work and still be present parents.”

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Lisa added: “We’re not crazy business people who have all the wisdom and know all the answers, we’re still just little us. If we can do it, without any money, then anybody can do it.

“We wanted to create something beautiful that we believed in and we’re proud of, and ultimately gives us the work-life balance that we want. If we can empower other women in the process, then even better."