Julide Cakiroglu has always loved cooking and baking. It was a huge part of her family and culture. When she visited family in Turkey for the first time when she was six years old, it didn’t matter that she didn’t speak the language because they communicated through food.
Julide was cooking by the time she was eight. The first cake she made was in high school, for a friend’s birthday. “That’s when it started,” she says of the desire to make treats for everybody, forever.
“I would look at my friend and think, what's their favourite flavour, colour, flower? Who are they today? And then I’d make a crazy meta cake that would be an ultimate representation of that person in their creative totality.”
Julide’s friends, as recipients of Julide’s magical ability to communicate love through baking, were hardcore believers. When Julide returned from a stint in Sweden, where she’d developed plans to start a YouTube channel called Bake Vibes, a friend asked if she’d be interested in baking desserts for a pop-up cafe. The friend ended up getting into a Master’s program shortly after that conversation, but Julide was already enchanted by the idea. She decided to do her own pop-up, as Bake Vibes, in Wortley Village’s ‘Gathering on the Green’ event in 2018.
“I wanted to do more than show up with a table. I wanted a brand, an image of fun and fruit and tropical vibes. For two months my friends were always over, helping me with painting and building. That’s why it was so overwhelming - such a special community of people, a village coming together to make it happen. I was so grateful.”
Bake Vibes was a hit at the Gathering, and Julide was thrilled by people’s response to her ice cream and cookies (they were also thrilled). It was a dream, and she followed it by spending the next year doing as many pop-ups as she could, developing her recipes, and reigning chaos over the family kitchen. Ice cream is an intense operation: each of the eight flavours required a base and two mix-ins at the time, and her small ice cream machine made just three litres an hour. By the end of 2019, Julide was looking into commercial kitchens. She also quit her job to pursue Bake Vibes full time.
A golden opportunity presented itself in March of 2020: Julide secured a location at the Western Fair Market - the perfect step of growth for Bake Vibes, and for Julide as a lifelong appreciator of market culture. The pandemic would end up putting things on hold, but come early summer, the Market asked if Julide could be ready to launch in just thirty days. She set off on a wild ride of building a commercial kitchen, obtaining certifications, and driving all around Ontario to find equipment.
It didn’t slow down for the whole season. It was an incredible experience, and successful, but it was also just at the tipping point of being unmanageable for one person. Wanting to preserve what she’d built, Julide sought coaching from WOSEN to learn how to run her business in a more sustainable way. Weekly check-ins with her coach, Mariam, helped in more ways than one.
“Mariam reminds me that I am one person making this happen, and that’s amazing, and not to push myself to be a hundred people… She knows the business will do well when I put myself first, and that’s what I’d been lacking. It’s important to have room to breathe and feel happy for how far I've come, and how exciting it is.”
Over the course of her three-month break after Christmas, Julide prepared for an efficient upcoming season with new menus, new recipes, and a shiny new helper (an ice cream machine that makes 15 litres in seven minutes). She is not a hundred people, but Julide is definitely surrounded by supportive friends and fellow market entrepreneurs, a community of suppliers, and customers for whom she still creates thoughtful custom flavours.
“It’s an ecosystem that you are a part of, that you need to breathe and feel good in, and also be able to absorb energy and help from everyone around you...
...When you have a bowl of ice cream, you think it’s just that, but there are a bazillion people and thoughts that went into making it. It’s very special.”