Burnaby couple's bakery business a sweet success

When Burnaby resident Sergii Kuznietsov and his wife launched their Ukrainian bakery business earlier this year at the Steveston farmers' market, they had no idea it would take off so quickly.

"It was February, so it was snowing and cold. We got there and I was surprised to find out it was inside the cannery," Kuznietsov told the NOW. " It was dark and we only sold $180 worth of product that day."

Today, that amount has increased to $1,000.

"We grew rapidly. By the end of this summer, we were at 10 different markets. People love it," he added.

The couple came to Canada two and a half years ago from Kiev so Kuznietsov could complete his masters of business. While in school, wife Iryna got a job at a downtown Vancouver bakery. After some time working in their fields, the pair thought of marrying the two professions together.  And voilà, Solodko (meaning sweet) Ukrainian Bakery was born.

"We wanted to show the public that our culture isn't about just perogies, but sweet and delicious pastries that go beyond cookies and muffins," he said.

And that's exactly what you'll find on the menu. Customers can choose between items like piroshki (baked buns with meat or fruit filling inside), makovik (sweet roll with poppy seeds) and orehovik (sweet roll with walnut).

"It's exactly how we make it back in Kiev, how my wife's great grandmother made it."

Farmers' markets aren't the only places to find these savoury treats. Solodko is also making its way into local coffee shops and delis. It's received so much attention that it will also set up shop at this year's Vancouver Christmas market.

"We'll be introducing our Ukrainian crepes and borsch, the country's main dish," Kuznietsov said. "Very authentic food."

Because the business has being doing so well, the couple has had to hire three full-time employees and up to four part-timers. The goal is to one day open a restaurant that can offer locals a complete Ukrainian cuisine.

For now, the duo is looking at building a commercial kitchen sometime in 2015 to help with the company's growing demand.

When asked if there have been any challenges along the way, Kuznietsov was quick to respond "not really."

"The small business environment in Canada is much better than in Ukraine, so I didn't face any big obstacles or red tape. It's been a good experience," he said.

Some opposition did however, surface from family. Kuznietsov admitted their parents were not confident in the entrepreneurial endeavour.

"They were worried it was too much of a risk because I quit my full-time job as a business development manager and she quit her job as a baker. Now, they're of course happy."

So what's the secret to their success?

"You have to like what you do, otherwise you wouldn't be able to do it everyday."

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