Roots To Work: The baker Alice Williams

Portrait of Alice Williams taken for The ‘Eel by Miles Willis

Published: 2 Feb 2018

In the spring 2018 issue of The Jellied Eel magazine, Chris Young caught up with Luminary Bakery founder Alice Williams for our regular feature on people carving our careers in good food jobs.

How did you end up running your own bakery café?

I trained in youth and community work, then got experience at a social enterprise in Bangkok before landing a job managing Kahaila Café on Brick Lane and developed Luminary from there…

Why run it as a social enterprise?

The whole reason Luminary started was to address a need we saw for disadvantaged women to be given opportunities. Its social purpose is at its core.

Who are you helping?

Women who have experienced homelessness, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or criminal activity – people who have the hardest time getting work and reaching their potential.

What training and support do you offer?

Employability, baking skills and food hygiene are the main areas, with enterprise guidance, one-to-one support, mentoring programmes and apprenticeships thrown in too!

How many women have you helped so far and what have they gone on to do?

We’ve trained 45 women, 88% of whom have gone on to work, further training or starting their own business, usually within food because they have a passion for it.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

It might sound cliché, but seeing women thrive. It’s the thing that makes all the hard days worth it.

What advice would you offer to someone thinking about setting up a similar business?

Get as much experience as you can by working or volunteering at places you admire. Do your research and ensure you get a team around you, it will be much harder alone!

Check out others in the Roots to Work series, including the Urban Farmer, The Beekeeper, The Dietetic Coach

Alice Williams is founder of Luminary Bakery

Find your good food job on Roots to Work 

This feature first appeared in The Jellied Eel magazine issue 55, February 2018