Walk into one of Three Mills’ two (soon to be three) locations, and expect to be greeted by the sweet, seductive smell of the baked goods you’ve come to love at your local patisserie. That’s because Three Mills Bakery buns, croissants and danish are delivered daily to both burger joints and barista faves all over Canberra (and Queanbeyan, down the coast, in the Snowies…). And though the smiling faces at Three Mills Bakery Fyshwick and Majura differ from those in your neighbourhood, rest assured they are just as lovely – and being supported through training programs and outreach that ensures more than just a sourdough starter lives on to create future loaves.

Having recently celebrated many milestones (the business was conceived of in a tiny basement eight years ago), Three Mills Bakery set out with a mission to use sustainable, quality, local ingredients, service local businesses and provide personalised service.

A term like ‘local ingredients’ is bandied about by most producers looking to attract a hometown audience. But the folks at Three Mills Bakery take it very seriously – where else would you be able to track the flour in a loaf of bread back to the paddock, or determine the address at which the butter in your flaky croissant was churned?

It should come as no surprise that the business success was predetermined with such attention to detail and with such a passionate team, led by Jarrod Deaton (a University of Canberra grad). But that devastating, deadly bug we now call COVID-19 threw Deaton and his busy bakers a terrible curveball, and the company needed to pivot … STAT.

It was a make-or-break time for purveyors of tasty treats, and Three Mills Bakery decided to dive into a brand-new business model for them – the bake-at-home, e-commerce hustle.

“We make it, you bake it,” says Belinda Armstrong, Marketing & Brand Manager. “So what started as a brunch box, with a bit of everything you’d need to recreate a morning meal out with friends in your own kitchen on a weekend, expanded to a custom website with direct sales and bake-at-home instructions.”

And the gamble truly paid off. Canberrans embraced that bakery smell in their own kitchens across the territory to the degree that Three Mills Bakery warm-and-serve products will soon be found on the shelves of your local grocer.

In 2020, Three Mills Bakery received a Boosting Innovation Grant facilitated by the Canberra Innovation Network designed to support exiting innovative businesses to become more competitive and sustainable. With this grant, they were able to further develop e-commerce transformations that allowed them to take their product and distribute it through the region.

The company employs more than 100 folks at their locations in Fyshwick and Majura Park, and will soon have a presence in Belconnen. Their brand-new Fyshwick location focuses on pastry, and the original outpost at Majura keeps an eye on sourdough (fun fact – the same sourdough starter [you remember that trend from lockdown posts] used at the very beginning is still a part of every loaf baked today). And with dozens driving their buttery wares to purveyors of fine flakes far and near, you’ve likely enjoyed their treats without even knowing it.

Though you may not consider the baker (or candlestick maker, butcher, et al) to be in the business of innovation, Three Mills has certainly turned the industry on its head. And once you bring a family-sized pie, dozen hot cross buns, quiche or croissants to life at home with zero skill, you’ll be a carb-crazed fan yourself.