Erin Ireland has a lot to live for—two beautiful daughters, a supportive husband, two loyal rescue dogs, and a thriving business To Live For Bakery. With over 221K followers on Instagram, she is also a respected social media influencer who uses her platform (and business) to promote animal-free alternative cooking.
Erin’s bakery started in a 500 square foot apartment, “one banana bread at a time,” she says. Baking banana bread, initially, was just something she did as an affordable and practical gift for friends and family. “With the increasing demand, I saw an opportunity to start selling the banana bread and created To Die for Bakery. That was nine years ago,” says Erin.
For many years, her bakery was an “off shoot” of her food writing and advocacy work—literally the last tab on her Vancouver-based blog Web site, To Die For Vancouver. With a degree in broadcasting, Erin had built a solid reputation as a food writer and reporter through her food guides, recipes, TV appearances, and blog posts.
As production grew, she quickly realized a few years into the business that she needed a commercial kitchen space with bigger and better equipment. Seven years ago, she made the decision to lease space in then new Commissary Connect kitchen on Industrial Avenue in Vancouver. “I was the third tenant and was grateful for kitchen neighbours. I felt safer as I like having others around.”
Today Erin has one of the largest kitchen spaces at that location and her team is working there five days a week. “I am very grateful to be working from Commissary Connect and for their support,” says Erin, “especially during pandemic as times have been uncertain and business has been down 40%. But I am confident it will bounce back.” So far, she has been able to re-hire four of her previous six bakers.
A few years back, Erin made another very important decision—she became a vegan and an advocate for animal-free alternative cooking. After much research and recipe testing, she converted all her recipes to include no animal products. According to Erin, “Vegan baking is better. Better for the animals, for the environment and for our health…and it reduces are carbon footprint.”
The success of her bakery continues to support her mission as her products can be purchased in over a hundred retail and business locations across Metro Vancouver. “At one point I was more particular about where I sold my products,” says Erin. “I was approached by one of those grocery stores that wasn’t very locally based. I said no initially but now I want my vegan baking products to be everywhere. I want to offer more healthy options.”
Currently, her bakery menu offerings are purposely limited. “We have seven products, with seasonal offerings,” says Erin. “We launch new products to the highest of standards as every product has a lot of intention behind it, quality over quantity.” With that said, Erin is excited to announce that they will soon launch a new “everyday cookie.” “It’s healthier and very simple, only five ingredients…it’s a magic cookie.”
With the continued success of the bakery, and to be in more in alignment with her new philosophy, Erin decided to change the business name and rebrand. The bakery is now To Live For and has its own dedicated web site. “The new name has a strong connection to our mission. It’s a natural name for us. So many people guessed it when we were announcing the change.”
Erin recently separated the bakery business from her food writing and will soon launch a new lifestyle Web site under her own name—erinireland.ca. “I want to use my social platforms now for gentle activism and cooking stories, and show how easy and delicious it is to cook with plant-based food.”
Transitioning to this next step and relaunching both her brands has taken time and energy, but has been worth the effort. Erin is also grateful to her team at To Live For: Fabrizio, Andrea, Cheryl, Carolyn and Lisa. “Their support and dedication have allowed me to focus on my family as I don’t need to be there every day.” This is a very personal business for Erin. She has also been able to work on the rebranding with the support of her husband, who is a Partner at Rethink Communications.
Erin Ireland’s passion for family, animals, and food has always been a part of her, and continues to be her focus today as she rebrands her growing business. And just in case you were wondering, all of Erin’s family are vegan—even the two rescue dogs eat plant-based kibble.
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