Bread SRSLY is a Berkeley-based company that specializes in gluten-free sourdough bread. It was founded in 2011 by Sadie Scheffer, an artist and former MIT student, who learned the art of gluten-free baking to impress her college crush who developed a gluten allergy. After 10 months of recipe and product development, the company started as a home-based business and grew through word-of-mouth (sound familiar to the pandemic sourdough bread-making stories many of us heard about?). A write-up in DailyCandy SF on March 13th, 2012 really put Bread SRSLY on the map and turned it into a full-time business. As orders grew, Sadie began delivering bread on her cargo bicycle. Bread SRSLY caters to a wide range of dietary needs with their gluten-free, Kosher, and Non-GMO certified products, making them a trusted choice for those with specific dietary restrictions. With availability in over 140 stores across the United States and convenient online ordering at breadsrsly.com, enjoying their sourdough bread offerings has never been easier. Exciting plans are in the works for Bread SRSLY as they prepare to expand to a new 7,500 square feet facility in Summer 2023. This expansion will not only accommodate their growing operations, but also create the opportunity to hire more team members and launch fundraising initiatives for new projects, all while aiming for a projected 46% growth by the end of 2023.
How PCV Business Advising and Affordable Capital Helped Bake Bread SRSLY
Sadie was introduced to PCV during a networking event where she met a PCV employee with whom she briefly discussed her needs. In return, the employee recommended she try PCV’s Business Advising pro bono program. Sadie signed up and soon after was partnered with her first advisor in 2014. This advisor happened to live close to her home, so they would meet on average for an hour per week to work on her business plan, marketing, and sales strategy. As their partnership continued, Sadie recognized that she was already making strides with her marketing and basically needed to hire a marketing specialist in order for her to focus on growing other areas in the business. Sadie and her advisor were able to successfully cross some milestones such as creating sales projections, identifying best hiring practices to begin actively staffing, and identifying a filing structure for business documents. The use of PCV’s Business Advising program was fruitful, which resulted in Sadie identifying that she could use advising in other segments of the business, including employee development, Google Ads, and search engine optimization. Furthermore, she offers her employees the chance to have meaningful one-on-one conversations with PCV advisors, which further educates and empowers her employees in operations management. To date, Sadie has had over ten business advising partnerships through PCV that helped her make significant improvements to her business in areas such as leadership, growth strategy, financial planning, marketing, project management, sales, and operations.
The added guidance and resources she received from PCV Business Advising program, Sadie was able to increase her direct sales, rebrand her packaging, revamp her website, and even hire her first administrative employee. These changes not only boosted her business success but also allowed her to provide increasingly good jobs for her employees by offering a living wage and healthcare. Sadie states “It’s nice to pinpoint what I need and have an advisor that can walk me through it.”
In addition to the business advice provided, PCV was able to support Sadie overcome a common obstacle faced by many small business owners, particularly women and people of color – the lack of access to capital. This scarcity of funds often hinders entrepreneurs from investing in their businesses, ultimately limiting their potential for growth and success. During her entrepreneurial journey, Sadie encountered a pivotal moment when she decided to expand into a new space and acquire new equipment. She explored traditional financing options but found the process to be daunting. Reflecting on her experience, she shared, “Equipment is like these expensive toys that often break, and traditional banks had all these intimidating requirements.“
Sadie opted to apply for a loan through PCV, drawn to our more comfortable and streamlined process. With the help of PCV’s Lending team, Sadie successfully secured two loans in May 2019 and July 2019, enabling her to purchase the necessary equipment and propel her business to new heights. The acquisition of the new equipment for Bread SRSLY enabled the team to increase bread production and create more job opportunities. Sadie gained valuable experience, equipping her with the confidence to navigate traditional banking processes. As a result, she went on to successfully obtain funding for equipment, maintenance, and lines of credit from other lenders.
By receiving PCV’s support for advisors and affordable capital, Sadie successfully implemented a marketing strategy that focused on her target audience and highlighted the quality gluten-free, sourdough bread options at Bread SRSLY. As a result, her sales increased, enabling her to expand her business and create more job opportunities within her community. Despite challenges, Bread SRSLY is contributing to a larger movement towards prioritizing employee well-being by creating a fair and inclusive workplace for 20 employees.
Joining the Movement for Racial and Gender Wealth-Building as a PCV Good Jobs Entrepreneur Fellow
Being an entrepreneur is a challenging journey, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. As an entrepreneur, Sadie understands the importance of providing her employees with meaningful work and fair compensation. That’s why she was thrilled to be selected as a PCV Good Jobs Entrepreneur Fellow in April 2023, joining a group of 14 like-minded business owners who are committed to promoting racial and gender wealth-building outcomes through their businesses. As a PCV Good Jobs Entrepreneur Fellow, Sadie is assisting PCV with valuable insights for small business owners on how to foster growth within their business and provide high quality jobs to their employees. In addition, she will have the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs in the program, share ideas and strategies, and learn from their experiences. For Sadie, “being a PCV Good Jobs Entrepreneur Fellow is not just about promoting high-quality jobs for my employees – it’s also about being part of a larger movement to create a more equitable and just society. By committing to these values and working together with other entrepreneurs, I believe that we can create positive change.”
You can find Bread SRSLY in Natural Grocery stores throughout California, and shipped nationwide from breadsrsly.com.