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Starting a business is an exciting adventure for anyone, but for Ruth Baker, it was a huge change in lifestyle.
Working as an English teacher in a sixth-form college for 17 years, Ruth swapped books for Brie after taking over a local artisan cheese business earlier this year, and seeking guidance from our expert solicitors to ensure a smooth purchase.
Here, we chat to Ruth about her new venture, and find out her biggest learnings over the last couple of months.
I have taken over 'Yorkshire Fine Cheese', a small cheese-making business just down the hill from where I live in Shelley, Huddersfield. I make 'Barncliffe Brie' and 'Barncliffe Blue', both of which are soft mould-ripened cheeses, and I make them by hand in small batches in my dairy.
The milk I use in my cheese is taken from the Meuse-Rhine-Issel herd of cows at Barkhouse Farm, which is just minutes from my dairy - I collect the milk from the farm in churns, early in the morning. I deliver my cheese to local farm shops, restaurants and stockists, and I am hoping to take my cheese to food fairs, markets and shows!
I took over at the beginning of April, just after Easter. The business has been established for ten years.
Prior to cheese-making, I was a sixth-form college English teacher for 17 years. I had known for a while that I wanted to have a change of career, and when the opportunity came up to buy this business, it was too good an opportunity to miss.
It first occurred to me that I could realistically buy a cheese business in August 2020 - but it seemed such a huge change, and such an unknown quantity - I instantly felt that it was an exciting opportunity to be more creative, independent, and to work for myself - but I was nervous of leaving teaching, a career I'd put so much into and I was so familiar with.
I talked it over extensively with my family and friends, who were fabulously supportive and encouraged me to follow my heart and go for it. And eight months later, here I am - an artisan cheese-maker!
The art of making cheese - understanding the balance of temperature, acidity, and humidity needed during the process, understanding the subtleties of recipes, and of the mix of cultures needed to produce different cheeses. And acquiring the physical techniques and skills I need - how to lift and tip a heavy churn of 45 litres of milk into a vat, how to flip a rack of 20 x 200g cheeses without dropping them, and so on!
Choose a business that will bring you joy - take as much advice as you can - and always consider your work/life balance in every decision you make.
By planning ahead, imagining possibilities, and working out how to make things happen. By making time for myself, for my family and my friends, and keeping hold of what's important to me - because that's the reason for doing any of it in the first place.
If you want to learn more about Yorkshire Fine Cheese, you can visit its Facebook page here.