When Sadness Struck, Baking Delivered An Idea For FikabrödDecember 16, 2019
When Becky Clutter lost her best friend, a basset hound named Preston, she was devastated. Preston had been a part of her life since she had graduated from college.
Struggling after his death, Clutter took a sabbatical from her job as creative director for software businesses run by her family in the Atlanta suburbs.
“I just needed some time to kind of work on me and work on healing,” Clutter said. “But I gave myself certain goals. … And one of those things was that at least once a week, I needed to bake.”
One simple batch of chocolate chip cookies might have been all it needed to get her baking – and thinking – more. Her fascination led to buying more cookbooks and testing new recipes. She binge-watched the “The Great British Bake Off.”
But it was a monthly subscription box filled with craft supplies, including trendy washi tape and stickers, that helped Clutter discover a new path. She started looking for a similar service that would align with her growing baking obsession.
“As I was looking, I couldn’t find something that was for me, you know, an above-average baker who is obsessed with baking,” she said. “There are a lot of baking kits out there, but nothing geared towards … more moderate to advanced bakers who already have flour, sugar, a multitude of chocolate chips and nuts in the house.”
Introducing the Fikabröd box
Applying her skills in communication design, which she studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Clutter started to rediscover her old self as she scoped out a business plan, with her dad serving as mentor.
Next came the branding materials for her new venture, starting with the product logo. She personally built the website, created product cards to insert in each monthly box and even designed the whimsical baking-inspired packing tape that seals each box. Serving as her own customer was a bit stressful, but she enjoyed using her graphic skills and online business experience to grow her own company.
And she selected the name, drawing inspiration from her visits to see her brother, who lived in Sweden for a few years. One of those trips occurred over the holidays, where everyone from home cooks to professional chefs rolls out their best baked goods.
“I have a huge fondness for Scandinavian baked goods, especially Swedish. Bake it, and it is darn tasty,” Clutter said. “You know, if you’re going to put cardamom on everything, sign me up.”
The name celebrates the custom of fika, with fikabröd as the treats enjoyed during those moments.
“I love the concept of fika. And one thing that I love about baking is you’re sharing it with others,” Clutter said, adding that she’s bad about enjoying fika herself. “I decided to work on that. Just pausing and reflecting on life and not just go, go, go, go. I think it’s something good – especially for Americans – that we shouldn’t … just grab a coffee and run out the door.”
Clutter puts it simply: “People will slow down if you’re going to give them a piece of cake.”
Monthly celebrations of baking experiences
Each box centers on a theme, with that Scandinavian element woven throughout items in the first delivery. The theme might be influenced by a single product, or a collection of items with a common thread; everything is personally chosen to excite her bakers. Clutter assembles each box herself, nestling the month’s items into beds of shredded kraft paper. Monthly subscriptions start at $46.95.
Chunky Swedish pearl sugar, blood orange oil and handcrafted Georgia Grinders peanut butter from a nearby farm were food selections in the inaugural box, which shared “A Few of Our Favorite Things.” Rounding out the goodies were a pair of socks with woven cupcakes, a dessert-themed pen and a notebook, designed personally by Clutter with the same Swedish folk art and baking whimsy found on the packing tape.
The second box focused on getting ready for holiday baking. The centerpiece was a bottle of Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract, along with chestnut paste and packages of spekulatius gewürz (a mélange of spices from cinnamon to pimento) used for spiced Christmas cookies in the Netherlands and Germany. Fun additions were a package of Santa cupcake décor and a moose cookie cutter.
A card inserted in each box introduces each item, and she suggests a recipe for every ingredient. Clutter tests each recipe in advance and encourages her subscribers to bake along with her and post their creations on Instagram. Crediting the sources of recipes she finds aligns with her efforts to build an online community
Her mission is to seek out new and artisanal ingredients, aiming to encourage bakers to experiment in the kitchen. She takes the work out of finding unique and small-batch options.
“You might not have access to these types of ingredients if you live in a smaller town or you might just be too busy to go, you know, even go wander around Whole Foods,” she said.
She also works to curate a balanced box that delivers a consistent cost, while ensuring that each item will inspire kitchen creativity. For example, she wouldn’t just add in a spatula unless it was specially designed.
With the Fikabröd launch, Clutter has found a new pace. She and her husband, Peter New, have adopted another basset hound, Margot, which brings her joy. Her customers are responding favorably, and she’s trying to practice her mission of fika.
“I’m actually going to sit down and just kind of reflect,” she said. “I’ll have a little something and have some tea. I think that’s really important.”
Just for Umgås readers: To register to win a free Fikabröd box, visit Becky’s website.