A gluten-intolerant baker who struggled to find her passion in life has finally opened her own store.
Mia Dahl recently launched a traditional Danish bakery called “Blomst” in Hartnup Street, Maidstone.
The 24-year-old has a love for baking delicious pastries and bread, but ironically is gluten-intolerant.
“It’s quite a contradiction because I can’t eat most of the things I produce,” she said.
“So it’s just for the love of doing it to be honest.
“I do sometimes get tempted, but I’m also very passionate about making gluten-free products that are edible and taste really nice.”
Mia makes artisanal vegan bread, including classic country loaves and sourdough rye.
Croissants, pain au raisin, pain au chocolat and cookies are also available at her shop.
“Sourdough baking is especially very technical,” she added. “There’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t realise.
“It’s not just chucking a bit of yeast in some dough and it rises perfectly every time.
“There’s a lot of variables and factors that go into it.”
Mia says she struggled to figure out what she wanted to do as a career during her late teens.
“There was a lot of pressure from schools – you had to do something super academic,” she explained.
“I baked with my nan growing up, so there was a lot of focus on food. I enjoyed going home and making dinners for my family.
“Trying to make a career out of that didn’t seem like something to do in the beginning.
“It wasn’t talked about in schools as an actual job, it was seen as more of a hobby.
“I bit the bullet and said I wasn’t going to do it anymore.”
In 2017, Mia decided to quit her A-levels and pursue her dream of baking by enrolling at Suhrs Højskole in Copenhagen.
It is a food-focused, extra-curricular high school which teaches a number of practical courses.
Many students learn a range of skills – from pastry and desserts to environmentally-friendly cooking – before typically heading off to university.
The baker was born and raised in Maidstone, but her parents Charlotte and Jesper are from Denmark.
Mia said: “Copenhagen has a really prominent food scene, with high-quality bakeries and restaurants.
“I also wanted to improve my Danish. As I’d grown up, I had lost it and wasn’t as good as I used to be.
“So fully immersing myself in food and having to speak a different language was pretty full on, but it was really exciting.
“It was super daunting at first, but it did pay off because it was a great experience.”
After five months, Mia achieved a diploma and moved back to Kent to work at the Grain & Hearth Bakery in Whitstable.
There she was taught the ins-and-outs of a traditional artisan bakery.
Last October, Mia signed the lease for her small store in Hartnup Street.
“I've wanted to have my own bakery for a while,” she added.
“The problem is with the town centre is it’s so expensive to have a place.
“Being able to start something up is difficult because there’s a huge investment that comes with buying the equipment and all the ingredients.
“A mixer is about £5,000 alone and a lot of other machines are around that mark too.
“Then having to pay £2,500 a month for rent and business rates on top of that – it’s just not possible.
“I think that’s why a lot of small businesses plummet so quickly, because there’s not much help available.”
Last Saturday (February 3), Mia launched “Blomst” to the public – the name meaning flower in Danish.
She gets up at 3.30am every day to start baking all the items she prepared the day before.
She said: “It was absolute mayhem. I wasn't quite expecting the amount of people that showed up. We sold out in about two hours.
“It is very nerve-wracking to see if people are going to support you and like ‘what you're doing?’
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn't love it, because it’s a lot of hours and a lot of stress in and outside the bakery.”
Blomst is open Thursday to Saturday, 8am-3pm and Sunday 9am-2pm.
The store is located next to Maidstone MOT & Repair Centre.