Miisa Mink is investor and chairman of Nordic Bakery, a design café chain with two stores in Marylebone.
What brought you to London originally?
We specifically chose London because it is such a vibrant and creative place to work and we could see that people who were living and working here were not being offered an alternative to the over tired, over saturated mainstream coffee shop brands.
Londoners are very open minded and willing to try new things and we thought that they would appreciate our offering – a quiet, stylish place to enjoy our Nordic dark rye bread, cinnamon buns and coffee. Somewhere with a different atmosphere, somewhere that would appeal to grown-ups.
Nordic Bakery has clearly gained a strong following in the capital; did you ever expect such success?
We have a very clear idea of what we are offering and have built the brand organically to gain a loyal following. Success comes from having a solid foundation and we believe that we’ve got that and providing we continue to stick to our ethos, our popularity will continue to grow in London. I could have not expected we become so popular and I’m very grateful to all our fans that have supported us over the years.
Do you think Marylebone’s neighbourhood atmosphere suits Nordic Bakery?
Two of our three coffee shops are in the Marylebone area (New Cavendish Street and Dorset Street). It’s a loyal neighbourhood that reflects our ethos – lasting quality, no gimmicks and good honest design and food. People live here, work here and socialise here and that’s important to us because Nordic Bakery is not a fly-by-night business. We work with and for the Marylebone community seven days a week.
Is there an average Nordic Bakery customer, if so who are they?
Our cafes are popular with a wide demographic of people yet all are looking for a peaceful place where they can relax or meet with business colleagues. Community is important to us and so a lot of our customers are people who are living and working in the neighbourhoods that we serve – everyone from doctors, writers and architects through to bankers and accountants. We’re also popular with families especially in New Cavendish Street which is a bit more residential.
Other customers are visiting London and have sought us out as a special place to visit. We do get customers from Scandinavia but not exclusively so because our offering appeals to an international clientele who appreciate our simple Nordic aesthetics.
I would say what is common to all our customers is an appreciation of quality and aesthetics. They are people who often want just that little bit more from their coffee shop experience and appreciate the freshly baked cakes and buns we make on-site every day.
What’s your favourite recipe in the Nordic Bakery cookbook?
It has got to be our cinnamon bun! Every Nordic mum and grandmother has their own version of this Nordic classic. At home I usually make my cinnamon buns a little smaller than the ones we serve at the cafes (and you can find the recipe for these soft cinnamon buns on page of 89 of Nordic Bakery cookbook).
The love for the cinnamon buns in the Nordic countries is so great that there’s a day dedicated to them – 4 October. At Nordic Bakery we are running a whole week of cinnamon bun celebrations (from 28 September to 4 October) and offering our customers a different variety of cinnamon bun mid-week and then baking all the varieties at the weekend. So everyone gets to try a new version of our cinnamon bun. We’ve also created a special cinnamon and apple cake and will be selling this during the week too.
There’s lots of Scandinavian influence in Marylebone – particularly design. Do you have any favourites?
I believe that good design is thing of beauty that can bring harmony into our lives and the design elements that we’ve incorporated into Nordic Bakery are part of the restful ambience we’ve created.
I’m a big fan of classic timeless design, for example the Teema mug designed by Kaj Franck back in the 1950’s. Iittala uses the same design today yet every time it adds a new colour, it complements those dating back to the 1950’s. There’s something comforting about a Teema mug and we mix and match them with Teema plates at Nordic Bakery; they complement the honest food we sell.
And our Marylebone customers can also experience the simplicity and craftsmanship of furniture designed by Alvar Aalto and Ilmari Tapiovaara in our Dorset Street and New Cavendish Street cafes.
There are a lot of good Scandinavian design in the shops around Marylebone – Marimekko, Mouki Mou and Scandium.
Nordic design tends to be functional and minimalistic and I like to mix this with pieces that are rich and sensual. One of my personal favourites is the Design Guild shop on Marylebone High Street. I adore the colourful, decorative fabrics and accessories. They’re very inspirational and they complement my 1880’s English countryside house perfectly. I have also found some great interior design finds at Lewis & Co on Paddington Street.
Aside from design, where else do you enjoy in Marylebone?
I enjoy the cocktail bar ‘Purl’, where you get a multi-sensory experience and I love how they have created a very unique atmosphere with design, lighting and details.
The design aesthetics and attention to detail at the Indian restaurant Trishna on Blandford Street appeals to me, rather than the traditional style of Indian restaurants.
Marylebone is wonderful area and I enjoy the relaxed, village feel and am always inspired by the people who live and work there.