No one ever told me this, but the hardest part about opening my own bakery was deciding on a name. The actual process of applying for a license was simple and streamlined. The logistics were made easier by being a cottage food operation. Even becoming a self-taught baker was straight-forward. The knowledge of baking came to me over time. Sure, there were some rough hours in there, some sweaty summer days, some frustrating failures, but none of these things were as hard as honing in on the name that would define my work.
I had an idea of what I wanted the name to represent. I didn’t want anything frilly, or silly, or funny. I am a serious person, after all. I wanted my bakery to focus on “REAL BREAD” rather than sugary treats, so a name like “Sammie’s Cupcakes” wouldn’t do. And anyway, I didn’t want it to be about me, so I strayed away from fiddling with my name. The name had to be simple, to encapsulate what this work is to me. It had to be practical and to the point. I wanted it to be short, but not sweet. In other words, I was being extremely high-maintenance.
When I landed on Aero Bakery, I knew I had found it.
Not right away, perhaps.
I rolled it over my tongue a few times.
I thought about what it represented.
I slept on it for a few days.
And I asked people I knew, day in and day out. “How does it sound?”
Eventually, it started to be the only name that felt right.
The reasoning behind Aero Bakery is three-fold.
Firstly, “Aero” is pronounced “Arrow”, and is a subtle tribute to my starter, the mother of all our bread. My starter is made up of 100% Arrowhead Mill’s Organic Rye flour. Because it is entirely fed with rye, my starter is akin to a wild child, boiling with activity, thirsting for adventure, ready to show the world what it can do. It took me a few tries to find a starter that I could work with, but once I discovered mine, there was no turning back. While friends around me are having babies and raising families, I am over here taking care of a starter. I feed it twice a day, and watch it grow. I laugh when it bubbles, and my heart drops when it deflates. In return, it helps me make beautiful bread. Without it, my life wouldn’t have this simple joy.
Secondly, Aero represents the gratitude I feel towards my husband’s never-ending support. My husband is an engineer, and his first five years out of undergrad was spent working in aeronautics and aerospace. It was during this time that I was going to dental school, and he was the only reason I made it through. Not only did he help support me financially, but he provided the moral support I needed. After dental school, I found that I was missing something. I spent the first 26 years of my life pursuing my dream of becoming a dentist, but there was a longing for something I didn’t yet know. My husband was the one who was excited for me to learn bread baking. He was there when I failed, and he was the first to tell me to try again. I remember him photographing me with my very first loaf. It was flat, I was in my pajamas, the lighting wasn’t right … but we were both smiling. And when Rye Goods offered me the position as the early morning bread baker, I was nervous to add on a midnight shift on top of everything I was already doing. I mean… I was nervous to add on a midnight shift, PERIOD. Starting work while the rest of the world sleeps is not exactly enticing. But… for the love of bread, am I right? He knew that it would give me joy when I, myself, wasn’t so sure. I remember him saying that if I didn’t take it now, I would probably kick myself for missing the opportunity. “You can make time for sleep later, if you really need to.” So aero is one way for me to dedicate the bakery to the person who has brought me this joy.
Lastly, it’s all about the bread. It has to be. Bread was the missing piece. It’s an expression of the part of me I always hid. It’s the part of me that enjoys utter silence, the part that feeds off focus, the part that needs to create, the part that was searching for s p a c e. Thus, the bakery had to be named after the bread. Aero bread is made the olden way, using three common ingredients (flour, water, and salt), and one rare ingredient (TIME). I respectfully allow my active starter the one ingredient it truly needs to ferment the other three ingredients. This process, the way we let bread AERATE, is what makes the bread unique. Ironically, before mass production … before mass convenience I should say … before the Industrial Era, what we had a lot of was time. But as we try to make our lives “easier” and “more convenient”, we are somehow losing our most valuable commodity, and the clock ticks ever faster. Baking bread is one way that I can gift what we’ve lost back to the community. It’s a symbol of the importance of regaining our space. It’s a statement against modern conveniences. Finally, it’s a choice; to value simplicity, and the things we hold most dear.
And so, when all’s said and done, Aero just … fit.
I can’t wait for it to hold meaning for you, too.