Little Bird Baking’s Abby Reimer is a person whose life has taught her to bloom where she’s planted. And, right now she’s firmly planted on Alberta’s rich black soil. But, this was not always the case.
Growing up her father was a pastor and her family was always on the move. They lived for a while in Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota and Alberta. Then, as an adult, Abby continued the family’s rolling stone gathers no moss trend. “I realized I missed moving when I got out on my own,” she says. So, she spent her university years in Chicago, Maine, Iowa and Oxford, England.
Earning a much enjoyed degree in Medieval History, Abby’s employment, nonetheless, was always in food businesses and, in particular, bakeries. “Food felt more practical when I was staring my student loan debt in the face,” she says with a chuckle. Married to a farmer with a large scale chicken operation in between Camrose and Wetaskawin, Abby is now the mother of five children between the ages of 14 and three.
Living on the farm, raising her children, she’s never stopped baking. I asked how she finds the time and if she’s very organized? “Oh no!” she says, “Life around here is usually a hot mess!” But, she laughed as she said it and she has pulled off quite a lot of professional baking since her youngest was born.
Hatching a business
After the birth of that fifth child, Abby was craving a bit of a challenge for her own development. When a friend suggested they do some baking and share a stall at the Camrose Farmers’ Market in the summer of 2018, Abby signed up. By the end of the season, she was running the small business on her own with baby in tow. “I’ve always been artsy,” she says. “Baking gives me a way to express my creativity. And now it feels like that’s what I’m here for.”
When fall came after her first summer at the Camrose Market, Abby’s customers said, “where will we find you now?” They’d meet her when she’d book a table at Wetaskawin’s indoor winter market and Christmas markets. Then, they began ordering through her Little Bird Baking Instagram account. When you go to her account, you’ll notice her logo.
The logo and resulting inspiration for her company’s name came from a drawing one of her son’s did. She tried a stock photo option but kept thinking of her child’s drawing of a sweet little bird. She had liked it so much when he did it she’d tucked it away. When she finally found it again, she knew it was right for her logo because the simplicity of the little line drawing brought such joy. It’s much like the feeling you get when you eat a cookie.
Pop Ups and Cookie club
Further business progress came for Abby when she met Theresa Kroeger, the owner of Camrose’s Trendy Walrus, at a women’s business conference. Kroeger invited Abby to do pop-ups at her store. Abby also started a “Cookie of the Month” club as a regular subscription service. She currently has a dozen regular customers that get a box filled with a baker’s dozen of four different cookies each month. She’d like to expand this aspect of her business.
“I’ve done a few bigger events but had to rent a commercial kitchen to do so. I learned that I don’t enjoy catering or making wedding cakes! They are stressful. The Cookie of the Month club is fun.” So, Abby plans to stick to cookies. “Now, I’ve taken over the kitchen in an apartment we have on the farm. I can only operate as a ‘cottage industry’ and sell at farmers’ markets for now. But I dream of doing the renovations I need to make it the (formally licensed) kitchen I need. I’d like to sell my products at nearby Lazuli Farm’s store and a few other places.”
Besides her cookies, Abby loves to make caramels, marshmallows, honey pops, and macarons. And, her biggest seller has always been her scones. “I like to use local flour when I can, though I’m not exclusive about it. Sunny Boy is milled in Camrose and I love to pop into the mill for a bag. Some of my other favourite local food vendors to work with are Lazuli Farms for bacon (for my scones!!) and strawberries, Mama G’s and Huckleberry‘s Cafe for jam, Vinesation for olive oils and balsamic vinegars, NRG for coffee, The Northern Table for tea, and Sweet Infusion Honey.”
Abby’s learned to be a pro baker on the job, through trial and error and from YouTube videos. Her results are beautiful. Her five children are perhaps her biggest fans but she says, “They definitely believe they should have a little more access to the goodies than they currently enjoy.” What’s next?
Back to the Future?
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Abby took the summer off thinking, like the rest of us, it couldn’t possibly last more than a year. Now that we are in our second year, she’s assessing whether to book a stall at the Camrose Farmers’ Market again. It restarts in June and I’m sure there will be a lot of happy people if they find Little Bird Baking’s Abby Reimer there.
“I love the feeling of people discovering the unexpected in a smaller out of the way place,” she says. “I love the idea of being the local baker.” Abby Reimer is another great example of the creativity and dedication of Food Artisans of Alberta. It’ll be fun to watch this Momtrepreneur grow her business with her family.
Note: All photography by Crown Photography and used with permission. This is NOT a sponsored post. I was happy to write about Abby Reimer as part of my ongoing quest to support Food Artisans of Alberta. Full disclosure: If I’m fortunate, I may get some of Abby’s cookies one day!