Life in Salmon Arm has become a source of inspiration for Markus and Ursula Jaeger, the artisan bakers behind Inspired Breads.
On Saturday mornings, the couple can be found working side by side in their booth at the Downtown Salmon Arm Farmer’s Market, busy selling their home-baked goods – hearty loafs of ancient grain breads, pretzels, baguettes, cookies and more.
“It feels like the people love what they’re seeing or what they got the week before so we have a lot of returning customers at the moment,” said a delighted Markus. “And a lot of people bringing two or three other people to the booth and saying, ‘That’s the bread we got last weekend.’ And you see that word of mouth happening right away and it’s just a wonderful thing to witness.”
Markus loves being able to interact directly with customers while sharing time with Ursula and their four children. It’s part of a radical lifestyle change the Jaegers recently undertook after selling their successful Lower Mainland bakery of 13 years, The Artisan Bake Shoppe.
“We love to work together and you know, with the growing bakery back in Vancouver, we were more parted because I took care of the night and my wife took care of the day…,” explained Markus. “We love to work together. And being in that position right now again, where we stand by by side, even selling the bread together, it’s amazing for me.”
Markus discovered his passion for baking while pursuing a different career path in Germany. He was studying computer science and economics in university when he took a job at a bakery. After a couple of weeks of watching how bread is made, Markus realized he’d found his calling. The news came as a surprise to his parents and friends.
“It was a shock,” laughs Markus. “In Germany, baking is a very low thing to start. If you start in an apprenticeship as a baker, a lot of people really ask, ‘oh, you couldn’t find anything else?’ I don’t think the same. I really think it’s a wonderful profession…
“That’s a difference from Canada. When you come with a trade, like being a butcher or a baker, the mindset is completely different because they somehow like that you’re going back to the roots of something, or that you have a really good education in a specialty field.”
Markus met Ursula in Germany when the two were pursuing their masters degrees in baking. She had already established a reputation as a baker, and the two found they shared the same passion for, and philosophies around baking.
“We both had the same mindset, that we wanted to go back to the roots of baking, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Markus.
In 2003, the Jaegers moved to Canada and, in 2004, they were given an opportunity to take ownership of the Artisan Bake Shoppe. Their traditional approach to bread making became a recipe for success, and supermarkets began asking to carry their product. Though the Jaegers were doing what they loved, the stress of maintaining a growing business began taking its toll and, when Ursula developed myositis, an inflammation of the muscles, they made the decision to sell.
The Jaegers discovered the Shuswap during a trip to the Kootenays, immediately falling in love with the geography. After selling the bakery, the family moved to Salmon Arm.
“Taking care of the whole thing was too much and we are so glad that the whole situation with my wife has changed,” said Markus, explaining how the transition has been. “She’s healthy here, she doesn’t have any signs of what she had before and just by taking the stress off and working side-by-side again, for us it’s a second chance in life.”
Markus and Inspired Breads was one of the competitors in this year’s Launch-a-Preneur competition, and he will be taking part in this year’s Dancing with the Shuswap Stars.
“The whole year feels like being connected with the community and it really feels great being a part of Salmon Arm now. It’s amazing,” said Markus.