Little Loaf BakeshopSeptember 6, 2022
Little Loaf Bakeshop
Beacon, New York
What comes to mind when you think of your local bakery? While the delectable smell of freshly baked bread and pastries is undoubtedly a draw, for Colleen Orlando and Rian Finnegan, bakeries are more than just a place to satisfy your sweet tooth– they’re the heart of the community. With love for community-building and baking, Colleen and Rian combined their talents to create Little Loaf Bakeshop, a queer-owned and operated bakery in New York’s Hudson Valley.
From tasty croissants to soft pretzels, Little Loaf Bakeshop creates high-quality bakery items made from local ingredients. When you buy from them, you help multiply the impact by supporting local businesses and local farmers. Colleen and Rian’s small business journey began when they packed their bags and moved from California to Beacon, a town well-known for small businesses, artisanal products, and beautiful landscapes. After eight years of running a bakery in Oakland, Colleen was ready for a new opportunity.
“I learned the ins and outs of running a food-based business. I developed their pastry program from the ground up and experienced how a small operation can grow and still be a part of the community,” reflects Colleen of her time in California.
Moving across the country to start their first company amidst a global pandemic was a challenge, but Colleen and Rian were well-equipped with motivation and expertise. For Rian, working in coffee shops throughout college shaped their leadership and management skills, which they’ve continued to strengthen throughout their career in marketing and branding. Coupled with Colleen’s ten years of baking experience, Colleen and Rian knew they were ready to make a mark with croissants and cookies in the queer-friendly Hudson Valley.
“I grew up in a place that wasn’t very queer-friendly,” says Rian. “I met the first queer people in my life while I was working in a coffee shop. So, starting a business and creating a place where queer people feel very safe was something I always wanted to do.”
Rian’s experiences facilitated the desire to launch a start-up where people can not only grab a croissant but also feel safe and create meaningful relationships. So what’s next for Little Loaf Bakeshop? While Colleen and Rian continue to bake and experiment with new recipes in a shared kitchen in Poughkeepsie’s renovated Underwear Factory, they’re focused on distribution and brand awareness through farmers’ markets in the Hudson Valley. To start, they’ve already been accepted into the Arlington and Beacon farmers’ markets and hope to join many more soon. Beyond the bakery, Colleen and Rian also hope to expand their partnerships with local organizations in Beacon—and they’ve already got a head start!
“We hosted an event with Queer Soup Night, which partners with queer chefs from the Hudson Valley. All their proceeds always go to a nonprofit,” says Colleen.
Colleen and Rian’s story is a reminder of the impact small business owners make in our community. They aren’t just selling bakery items– they’re making contributions and creating safe spaces that empower local communities, which is just one of the many reasons why we happily supported their journey with a $17,000 microloan that created four new jobs.
“We wanted to ensure that the lender we worked with is doing a lot of good in the community. So, that’s why we chose to work with Community Capital New York instead of a traditional bank,” says Rian.
Impact and intention drive Colleen and Rian’s journey, all the way down to financing options. No matter where they are in the process, they’re motivated by the ability to do good and make an impact. Ready to support this mission-driven bakery in Beacon? Read more about their story here. Keep up to date with new products and where to find them on social here. Looking for a small business loan? Check out our Start Up Loan and other products.