If you love bread as much as we do, you'll love to learn more about Kim McCallum, the founder of lot8, who makes beautifully crafted bread bags and baskets that you can find in our stores. These are the perfect vehicle to tuck in your Mabel's loaves before you're ready for your next slice.
Fresh City: Hi Kim, tell us how and why you decided to start your business. We'd love to hear the back story!
Kim McCallum: When I inherited my mom’s sewing machine, I didn’t know how to use it! In an effort to stay close to her, I learned. I made simple, functional pieces for my home...lot8 according to a 1910 survey map of my Junction neighbourhood in Toronto. Then I branched out to selling in markets and shops, and now online. My mission is to create natural, durable, functional products that encourage re-use while minimizing fabric waste. My relationship with Mabel’s started in 2018. I’d been making bread bags and selling them in craft markets, when I finally got the courage to reach out to Mabel’s. I met with Bob Warburton. Though he liked the product, he didn’t think it would sell. I boldly suggested a pop-up where I would set myself up in the shop and gauge customer reaction. I sold 13 bags in an afternoon and became a wholesale provider to Mabel’s!
FC: What is your process to handcraft each of your bread bags?
KM: I start by using linen. It is a natural fabric that is compostable at the end of its life. It is naturally breathable and absorbent, making it a perfect match for bread bags and tea towels. I wash the fabric in DIY laundry detergent that is biodegradable (you can find the recipe for it on my website). I hang it to dry, press it and begin cutting. Then the sewing begins. I use a serger and Bertha (the 60 year old machine I inherited from my mom) to create the bag using a French seam. A French seam means that there are no raw edges in the finished product. Following that, I press the bag again and add a cotton twill or recycled cotton cord for the drawstring. Finally, I package it using a kraft paper belly band which outlines the features of the bag, how to use it, and recipes to create your own bread crumbs.
FC: When did your love affair with bread start?
KM: In the womb? LOL. I’ve always loved bread! I began baking bread over two decades ago. I started with no knead and Challah. Only recently did I try making sourdough. It is magical! It begins with such simple ingredients but nourishes body and soul. I love using the discard for recipes such as sourdough crackers and sourdough chocolate chip cookies!
FC: How can using a bread bag help prolong the life of a fresh loaf of bread? Any best practices you can share?
KM: When you store your bread in plastic, the crust gets spongy and the bread often gets mouldy. When it is stored in paper, it simply dries out and becomes one big crouton. Using a bread bag allows your bread to breathe. This results in a crust that stays crispy and an interior that stays moist for up to 5 days. For best results, cut slices from the centre of the loaf, put the two halves together to protect the cut ends, place the bread in the bag and pull the drawstring. Store your bread at room temperature and enjoy it for days to come. When life gives you stale bread, minimize food waste by making croutons or breadcrumbs.
FC: Low waste living is an integral part of lot8 - can you tell us a little more about this aspect of your business?
KM: It just makes sense to me. It’s economical, resourceful and sustainable. As a kid, we grew up cleaning with Comet. It was an unnatural green scouring powder. You had to wear gloves to use it and it sort of burnt your nostrils if you got too close. As a young adult in my own home, I started to question these traditional cleaners. I’d be rolling pie dough on my kitchen counter thinking, did I wash away all of the residue of Comet? Will my pie dough taste like Comet? Wait, what’s in Comet? Do I want to ingest that? So, I started making my own natural cleaning products. From there, it was a slippery slope of embracing a low waste lifestyle: shopping in bulk, learning to darn so that I could mend my socks, asking neighbours to donate their boxes and paper mailers so that I can use them for delivering lot8 products. Having said that, I am in no way perfect. But I do believe that every little bit helps, so I share my recipes and tips for low waste living on my website.
FC: How do you suggest caring for your products?
KM: Launder in a cold-water wash without fabric softener. Air dry. Iron on a linen setting if desired.
lot8 also donates a portion of every purchase to support The Redwood Shelter, a local charity helping women and children who are escaping domestic abuse. For more information about lot8, take a look at their website.