Local baker using a helping of social media to cook up success

‘We’ll have to see where this whole journey takes me,’ say popular Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market vendor who has almost 15,000 followers on TikTok

Sourdough baker Emma Hammond is harnessing the powers of social media and persistence to become one of the most popular vendors at the Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market.

Hammond started at the farmers’ market five years ago when she sold her homemade baked cakes, but it wasn’t until she started baking different kinds of bread and soft pretzels that she hit her sweet spot.

“I always really wanted to be a part of a farmers’ market and I needed something to sell. So, I took a class on how to make cakes and then I started other classes and baking other things to see what worked and what didn’t, and then whatever got really popular is what I stuck with,” Hammond said.

Hammond says she relishes the sense of community among market vendors.

“I like how everyone gets together at 6:30 in the morning to set up their tents. I’ve just always liked the vibe of a farmers’ market as a customer, so my goal was always to become a vendor,” she said.

It took the 31-year-old nearly three years to become one of the market’s most popular vendors. In fact, sometimes she lost money trying to sell her product.

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“Sometimes my booth fee was more than what I made, but you can’t let those first couple of (markets) let you down because it takes time to build that customer base,” Hammond explained.

“It would have been so easy at that point to quit, but I think the thing that kept me going is I genuinely loved being at the market. And now I’m experiencing my best year in terms of popularity, selling out, and going home early.”

Recently, Hammond has accelerated her success by using social media. On TikTok she has 14,600 followers and over 109,500 likes.

“I got into TikTok at the beginning of COVID when there was nothing else on the go. I had a really slow start with my business page and then I started gaining a lot more followers and having a lot more success,” she explained.

“It’s helped bring more people to the market, I had someone drive from Uxbridge; they left their house at six in the morning. It’s been really cool meeting people from all over Ontario and having them come up to the market.”

Hammond says she is unsure what it is about her social media presence that has been so successful.

“I’ll never understand the algorithm,” she quipped. “I put out a bunch of content that shows people the process of baking and I just never know what it is that people will find really cool,” she said.

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“For me, I think it was when I showed myself making a lot of sourdough at once, the dumping of the dough, and shaping a bunch of loaves. I’ve had over a million hits and hundreds of thousands of likes.”

Going forward, the Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School graduate would like to keep growing her business, but she hasn’t stopped to think about where she can take the business from here.

“It’s all happened so quickly, and it’s all grown so drastically. It’s hard to take a moment to get out of the now and start thinking about the future,” Hammond said.

“I think I’m going to keep going as hard as I can and I’m letting it flow the way it’s going.”

Away from her baking business, Hammond is a mother to her one-year-old son. She is also a sales representative for Cadbury. Currently, she does all her baking out of her home kitchen, however, Hammond would consider owning a storefront business one day.

“I’m open to anything, we will have to see where this whole journey takes me.”

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