Welcome to Up the River Baking, an Indigenous-owned sugar cookie business located in Vancouver. Founded in June 2022 by Carla Anderson, Up the River Baking has quickly become a beloved source of mouthwatering sugar cookies. Let’s delve into Carla's journey, the influence of Indigenous culture on her business, memorable moments, and future dreams for Up the River Baking.
From Passion to Profession
Carla's love for baking sparked five years ago, while she was still working in the corporate world. However, during the pandemic, the demand for individually wrapped cookies grew. This led Carla to embrace her passion and start Up the River Baking.
Carla grew up captivated by the women in her family cooking and baking. The kitchen was a place filled with warmth, laughter, and the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread. Among the various treats, there was one that held a special place in their hearts – the ‘up the river bread’.
During oolichan season (a dietary fat prepared from smelt-like fish) Carla's ancestors would journey up the river. They would make bannock or as they called it ‘up the river bread’- a unique delicacy created by frying dough in rich oolichan grease. The resulting golden-brown bread was a true delight, best enjoyed by dipping it into Roger's syrup. These cherished childhood memories became the foundation of Carla's passion for baking. It also birthed a desire to share delicious treats that bring people together.
“I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for my family. I have a big, beautiful family and my most cherished memories are watching the women in my family cook and bake. My great gran made the most perfectly flaky pies and my aunties make millions of batches of bread – a lot of this without a recipe. My gran was my biggest influence – she'd always be baking cakes and cookies and had the most beautiful hands. We'd watch cooking shows like Julia Child and Yan Can Cook together -haha I just aged myself”.
Motivated by her Love
Inspired by her true love for baking and by her family's culinary traditions, Carla embarked on a journey to establish her own Indigenous-owned sugar cookie business. Carla seeks to honour the flavours and traditions that shaped her upbringing with every batch she creates. Her sugar cookies carry the essence of the beloved "up the river bread," infusing each bite with warmth, love, and the spirit of her ancestors.
Carla's supportive husband, Chris Anderson, stands by her side as she brings her baking dreams to life.
Indigenous Identity and Representation
As an Indigenous-owned sugar cookie business, Up the River Baking embraces and celebrates Indigenous culture.
“We try to indigenize decorated sugar cookies as often as possible.”
Carla uses these elements from her culture to excite people at markets when they see her cookies.
“We've had adults quizzically look at our cookies and ask if they're: stickers, wood decorations and soap! Kids, however, ALWAYS know they're cookies and are attracted to our table like a tractor beam.”
Milestones and Challenges
Up the River Baking has achieved remarkable milestones one of them included being featured on APTN's First Talk. They also catered to prestigious clients like UBC Chan Centre and Eminence Organic Skincare.
Up the River Baking contributes to the community by volunteering with the All Nations Outreach Society and making lunches for those in need. Carla's dream is to expand her capacity to donate cookies and bring smiles to even more people.
The Meaningful Logo
There is a deep symbolism behind Up the River Baking's logo, which represents Carla's connection to the west coast and the joy of baking.
Up the River Baking is more than just a small business; it's a celebration of Indigenous culture, family traditions, and a passion for baking.
Check Them Out for Yourself
While Up the River Baking doesn't have a physical storefront, they operate out of a commissary kitchen at 417 Industrial Ave in Vancouver. Explore the various ways to connect with Up the River Baking, from online platforms like Instagram, Messenger, and email to attending local markets and events.
Note: For further information, please visit Up the River Baking's Instagram page and website for a visual feast of their delectable creations and updates on upcoming events and specials. Here