This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Be Bold For Change, encouraging people to step up and take groundbreaking action to help drive gender equality.

To celebrate the achievements of women who are overcoming barriers, we spoke with one of our inspiring Kitchen Hosts Alice Boyle, founder of Luminary Bakery, to find out more about the social enterprise and how they use baking as a tool to empower women.

1. Can you tell us a bit about Luminary Bakery and the social enterprise?

Luminary Bakery is an innovative response to a need we saw for vulnerable women who have had a social and economic disadvantage. We are a social enterprise designed to offer opportunities for women to build a future for themselves and their families. We provide a safe and professional environment where women can grow holistically – encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances. We use baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with practical and transferrable skills for the working world. We offer courses, work experience and paid employment within our bakery, empowering women to build a career and a positive future. By investing in and releasing them to realise their dreams, through training, employment and community, we aim to break the generational cycles of abuse, prostitution, criminal activity and poverty, which currently hold these women back from reaching their potential.

Luminary Bakery stall

2. What inspired you to use baking as a tool to support vulnerable women into entrepreneurship and employment?

We are part of a charity called Kahaila which has a cafe on Brick Lane and I was working there when we decided we wanted to help the local women. Some colleagues in the cafe were talented bakers so we started by doing workshops in a local women’s homeless hostel and the women really enjoyed it. Kahaila Cafe is really busy as sources cake from a few different bakeries so it also made business sense that we could bring some of the production ‘in house’ as well as providing training opportunities for local women. The therapeutic benefits of baking are wonderful because you can quite quickly see the results of something you have created, which is a luxury not many of the women we support have been able to experience before.

3. What’s an average day like in the Luminary Bakery kitchen?

Every day is different depending on the size of orders for that day, we’re wholesale currently supplying London cafes with our baked goods. On Wednesday & Thursday our trainees are in from 10am-3pm for their baking & life skills lessons in the training room downstairs. At the moment we’re not open at the weekend but we’ll be opening our cafe shop front at the end of April if all goes to plan!

Bakers in kitchen

4. How can people get involved and support Luminary?

We have volunteering opportunities from baking, cleaning, admin, social media, running workshops to mentoring – you can download an application from our website under the vacancies section.

5. What does the future hold for Luminary Bakery?

This year we’re working on getting our cafe open, growing our wholesale business and developing the masterclasses we offer, in the next few years we would love to be in a position where we’re opening stores in different locations across London!

Looking for kitchen space in East London? Luminary Bakery has a well-equipped kitchen with all the baking essentials and a cafe space available for hire evenings and weekends. View kitchen to find out more.