UNB Alumni
Telling our #ProudlyUNB stories

A flavourful journey for Christina Jeffrey

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Mar 9, 2021

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Saint John

The first thing you see when you visit the Urban Baker Co. website is the adage “Every flavour tells a story.” The owner of this artisanal online shop, Christina Jeffrey (BBA’96), has a story too.

Christina grew up in Woodstock, New Brunswick and learned to cook from her mother, who loved to entertain and serve very flavourful food. Christina started cooking family meals and baking, and soon her mom’s friends began asking her to bake cakes for their family celebrations. She expanded her baking to include cookies and pastries and began experimenting, realizing “how flavour could provide a different experience with every bite.”

Christina went to New Brunswick Community College in Saint John for a diploma in business marketing and after graduating did a BBA degree in marketing at UNB’s Saint John campus. When she completed her degree, she applied for a management training program at NBTel (now Bell Aliant). With that position she began a successful career in sales and operations that would take her into the field as regional manager and then as senior contact centre account manager. She later moved into marketing management. “This was an exciting experience because I was able to be part of a group of forward-thinkers and had mentors who exposed me to an entrepreneurial way of doing business,” Christina says. “I got good at dealing with executives, building customer relationships, negotiating and marketing. “Working there was one of the best things that could have happened to launch my career. I loved it.”

When she was pregnant with her second child, Christina’s husband had an offer to transfer to work in Alberta. They decided to take the leap to somewhere new. But in 2008, when the markets took a dive, her husband was offered a transfer again, this time to Ontario. They settled in Burlington and Christina stayed at home with her young kids, but when they got a little older, she felt she was ready to do something she was passionate about again. “I had always wanted to get into culinary entertaining and interior design when I was young. So I launched my own lifestyle company that could cover both of those areas. I started catering and interior designing more and more and gained incredible clientele around the GTA. I was featured on Breakfast Television and House & Home magazine and houzz.com. It was really fun. But the hours were demanding and the kids still needed me. I wanted more balance between work and family so I made the decision to step back.”

In 2019, Christina felt it was time to explore her passion once more. “The kids are older now and I really wanted to do something that allowed me to be creative every day. During this time, I honed in on my culinary skills and like most entrepreneurs, I tested things out with my family and friends, developing signature recipes. I loved the idea that I was creating so many beautiful memories through gathering and entertaining with food. I was so meaningful for me. But something began tugging at my heart and I began feeling the pull toward the entrepreneurial world again. That’s when Urban Baker Co. was born.”

Of course, we all know what happened in early 2020. Just as Christina’s business was gearing up, so was COVID-19. “I put my entrepreneurial marketing hat on again and decided to go completely online instead of opening a brick-and-mortar location. The experience from Bell Aliant and running my previous lifestyle business helped me build the partnerships I needed and gave me the confidence I could do this. I designed the website, did the photography, created ads and developed signature product lines.”

All of the products sold at Urban Baker Co. are Christina’s own original recipes. “They’re genuinely from my heart. We have a healthy line of baked goods and a sweet line.”

It took six months to launch and on November 1st, 2020, Christina went live. She says things are going well, despite the pandemic. She’s got wholesale café customers and is also selling direct to consumer, filling online orders for people buying for their homes, businesses or to send as gifts. “We currently offer online ordering and delivery to any location in the Greater Toronto Area and hope to expand across Canada at some point.”

“The online business was the right strategy for me. The timing and the choice to be innovative has worked in my favour and customers are embracing it. Being able to bring my passion for being a creative entrepreneur, baking, entertaining, marketing and business strategy all together makes me excited to get up every morning.”