The Little Fuji Bakery is a young bakery in the UK that infuses iconic Asian flavours such as Matcha, Pandan and Sesame into classic recipes to provide a unique taste to traditional Western baked goods. Founded by Christine Wan, the bakery puts emphasis on thoughtfully crafting each of their products by hand using the finest, natural ingredients.
The Little Fuji Bakery aims to provide each and every one of its customers with an unforgettable experience; from the moment you place your order to when you open the box.
Christine says that for her bakery, “We prioritise quality above all, making each of our products to order with the utmost care, love and attention. We hope our passion and energy is translated across in our products and you experience the little moments of joy we set out to share.”
Their operations are based in Sheffield and London, but currently accept orders online via their Instagram account @thelittlefujibakery.
Intrigued by Christine’s story of how she started The Little Fuji Bakery during the pandemic while still being in university, the Honest Food Talks’ team reached out to her for an interview.
Where did the idea for The Little Fuji Bakery come from?
The idea of The Little Fuji Bakery is something I’ve dreamt of ever since I was very young. My parents owned a restaurant and so growing up I was always fed well and surrounded by tasty food!
Whenever my mum was baking, I’d watch or help her out (but really I just wanted to lick the cake batter off the spoon) and I always wanted to replicate the flavours as good as hers and my grandmothers in the future.
Food is something we find brings us together as a family, because good food equals good mood am I right? Whenever we had family gatherings or hosted on special occasions, food was the key to everyone’s heart! It’s definitely one of those experiences that’s taken away and lasts in your memory for a long time.
Baking to me is like an art. There are so many components and little details in terms of the science behind the ingredients you use, when they’re combined and how they react even to simply the aesthetics of how you present your dish.
I’d say my favourite part about it is the decorating as well as the R&D that goes behind, for example, finding new flavour combinations or what pairs well with another product.
The idea and way it happened were more spontaneous, to be honest! I had just finished my 2nd year of university in May 2020 and I spent a lot of time indoors baking to kill time and boredom, I love sharing food with others so a lot of stuff I’d bake would go to friends and family.
When a lot of my friends told me surprisingly how good the cookies I baked were (as cookies were something I rarely baked at the time), they started to encourage me to sell them locally in Sheffield.
I didn’t have much faith in myself as to whether they would sell or not, but I thought I’d give it a go because you never know what might happen! So I began recipe testing which went on for approximately 5 to 6 weeks, tweaked my recipes here and there and finally got it to the texture and flavour I wanted it to be.
The name and motto behind the bakery were based on my childhood nickname as I used to have very chubby, rosy cheeks like a Fuji apple which was quite fitting to the whole nostalgia of the business where my main aim is to put smiles on people’s faces the moment they eat something sweet!
But overall I never would’ve thought that my business would have grown to the stage it’s currently at and I’m super grateful for every person that has supported me along the way.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive, keep yourself busy?
This is such an interesting question because it really depends on whether I’m studying or if it’s the weekend!
As I’m still in university - even though my semesters have been working from home/online - I’ll wake up and begin my lectures from 9 am to 3 pm from Monday to Friday. I don’t really get a break in between as it’s pretty much back-to-back so I’ll make a late lunch after I’ve finished my lessons usually.
And then in the evenings I’ll be studying and cooking dinner with my family which I find is such a therapeutic activity as we get to try out new recipes and just relax and watch a film.
Throughout the weekday is where I mainly receive orders from customers, so I have to make sure I’m constantly updating my spreadsheet and doing inventory checks, my mum is an absolute rockstar as she helps me out with this when I don’t have time or if I’m at work.
If it’s the weekend and I’m usually preparing orders ready to be baked the next morning, then my schedule won’t be as hectic in comparison to the weekday when I’m having to study and work simultaneously. I can have a lie-in or even do a workout and then wrap my orders the morning for posting.
Sometimes it can be difficult to stay on top of things and not get stressed throughout the week as there’s so much to complete. But when it reaches the weekend, although there are a lot of orders to process, baking is more of stress relief for me to take my mind off work and accounting.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I’d say for both professionally and personally, I always make a to-do list either written down on a notepad or on my phone.
It makes me feel more productive once I’ve actually completed something and I get to tick it off my list so it helps me stay on track with what I need to get done in the day!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I’d tell myself to be more confident as it was something I struggled a lot with growing up.
Now that I’ve grown up into a young adult and have experienced more things in life and taken more initiative, it’s definitely something I’ve gotten better at but definitely wished I had the type of mindset back then!
What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
One thing I do that helps me professionally and in my personal life is meditating before I go to bed, 5-10 minutes really does the trick!
Sometimes after a long day of work or studying, I’ll do some stretches and put some relaxing music on and meditate to clear my head. I find that it really refreshes me up to prepare my mindset for the next day - whatever it is I have to get done.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I don’t know if this is classed as a strategy but keeping in touch with my customers and getting to know them is something I do a lot and I think that’s helped my business grow.
As my motto for my baking business states, “Happiness in a box”, spreading happiness and positivity I believe is something we should all naturally do!
I enjoy talking to others and getting to learn people’s stories so it’s really nice to not only receive feedback from people but having conversations, or even simply taking the time to ask someone how their weekend has been. I guess it also gives a more personalised, friendly service.
What's one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of small businesses (that were also established during the pandemic lockdown) selling things like mochi cookies and mochi doughnuts which I think is so cool!
I’ve been wanting to try mochi doughnuts for a while as the texture looks so interesting but I’m currently trying to cut down on my carb intake and it doesn’t help when I’m a baker and I have to constantly be taste testing my products!
What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why?
I was struggling previously to find some nice backdrops for my food photography and baking photos to use. It took me a while to find the right pattern as I’m quite particular as a person with how I want the colour scheme and design to be for my photos.
But I am super happy I managed to find some afterwards!
What is your favourite quote?
A quote that I’ve always lived by and my mum used to remind me a lot is to “Have courage and be kind”.
What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
I love eating all kinds of food and many of my friends will know how much of a foodie I am. So much that I have a food Instagram account!
But lately, I’ve really been loving Shakeshack because the mushroom burger is TO DIE FOR!
I’m not a fan of meat patties so I tend to go for the veggie option if I ever eat a burger. I really love Tapas too so Barrafina in Soho is an awesome place to go to.
For dessert, I usually go to Tsujiri for their matcha desserts or Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream which is next door in Chinatown – or both if I feel peckish because why not? You get the best of both worlds!
What's the best thing to order from The Little Fuji Bakery?
The most popular items on the menu are the cookies, in particular the Miso, Vietnamese coffee, Pandan/Coconut milk and Matcha cookies!
I love every item on the menu as I really took the time to hand pick out the flavour combinations so that my customers can really enjoy the experience of tasting them just as much as I did in creating them!
Are there any exciting plans coming from The Little Fuji Bakery soon?
At the moment, I’m focused on getting my final year of university completed and applying for my master’s degree.
A lot of people have asked me when I’ll be getting a physical space/store to trade and it would be so exciting to be able to do that! I do have some plans and ideas for The Little Fuji Bakery but a lot of things aren’t quite set in stone yet.
But also because I want to keep it a surprise! So for the time being I’ll be releasing new products and flavours in the summer and running more cool collaborations or giveaways but I do believe everything will happen in god’s timing!
The Little Fuji Bakery offers collection in both Sheffield and London where they operate from, but UK nationwide posting is also available. They ensure a seamless service where you, the customer will receive freshly baked goods within 48 hours.
THE LITTLE FUJI BAKERY
Next, check out our interview with Kini Patisserie, another baking business that started during the 2020 pandemic!