Updated: 22/11/19

Everyone can appreciate the feeling when you get to eat something that’s really good. David, the co-founder of the Good Brownie company, has a distinct vision for how his brownies should be enjoyed and taste is only the start.


If you’re thinking of starting your own artisanal business, we’d seriously suggest reading this blog post on how to invest your heart and soul into what you’re doing to get to a great result. A long read, but a good one.


How and why was The Good Brownie Company founded?

“I suppose it stemmed from my gluten intolerance. I lived in Hong Kong for 5 years and in Canada for close to 10 years. The whole time I had stomach issues that were pushed to the back burner and that I didn’t really get time to sort out. 

“When I eventually had tests done, it turned out that it was gluten intolerance. Even then I didn’t think it was that big a deal. I thought if I just cut back on bread, it would be fine, but as most people find out that have a gluten intolerance, it’s kind of an ongoing thing.

“The history behind gluten intolerance is really interesting. Humans have been cultivating crops for 10,000 years which is a relatively short time for humankind’s existence. So, we haven’t really adapted to some of the chemicals and processing that goes on. When I found that out, it kind of made sense to me. So I started to eat better which really helped.

“I have a sweet tooth, so I started looking around for gluten-free cakes and sweet things. I did manage to find them and they were disgusting and really dry; a bit like eating sand. At around the same time I was importing bags from Morocco and selling them in markets and there was a guy selling gluten-free brownies. I thought ‘great, I’ll try them’, and they were delicious; probably better than anything I’d tried before that wasn’t gluten free. I was surprised because it was the first time this had happened. 

“So I decided to buy some wholesale from him and sell them on another market with my bags. The brownies sold in about 10 minutes. I was onto something, and before I ordered more from him I thought, ‘how hard can it be to bake my own brownies?’

“Turns out it was a lot harder than I initially thought, but I worked away and like cooking so it was an interesting process. I had no rules because I didn’t consult any cookery books or anything, so I didn’t know what you supposedly could and couldn’t do. 

“I didn’t have anyone saying ‘no you can’t do that’ so, I would just experiment with things like chilli and mango, and it worked. Bananas and cream and all these other flavours came from this kind of naive mindset; just try it, why not? Eventually I felt that I had kind of perfected the recipes and the taste was very good. Then I got creative and started to make more flavours, really to service my own needs, being gluten free. It became a business from that. 

“I’d gone to Camden Market with a homemade usherette tray with brownies on it as samples and was giving them out to see what the general reaction was, and everyone that tried them really liked them and they started to give me cards and said come to our office. So, I said yes, and that’s how it grew.”




What’s the best thing about working at The Good Brownie Company?

“The best thing is that there’s nothing that I don’t enjoy. I’ve never had a business that I have enjoyed every aspect of continually. It’s been nearly 5 years now and I still love the baking, I still eat them and I still enjoy the taste. I still really like meeting new people and seeing their reactions when they eat my brownies. 

“I guess more than anything I’m always looking forward to someone saying I don’t like it, so that they can feedback and say it needs more of this or that so I can continue the process and improve it. So it’s a difficult one.”


I would’ve thought that you would have gone straight for the baking, creating new recipes, I’m surprised that you didn’t.

“Well, I used to do sales and I’m used to meeting new people. I’ve been in all different types of sales: door-to-door, phone sales and working in retail. I’ve always seen people trying really hard with sales, being very pushy, kind of up your ass sales. I don’t really like the word ‘sales’ because it shouldn’t be about really shoehorning someone into purchasing something they don’t really want, it should be their choice. 

“That’s why I like selling brownies. I’m not forcing anything on anyone and I don’t try and upsell anything. I’m happy if you want to buy it, and if you don’t, there’s no pressure to. I’m providing something to people that they genuinely want and enjoy. That’s why I offer a range as well as some people are counting calories or have intolerances like me. 

“I like to please people with regards to whatever they want. We offer options from vegan and paleo, to bananas and cream, chilli, lime and mango. Hopefully, I can make people say ‘oh that’s a bit unusual’. The best thing for me is when someone enjoys something that they didn’t think they’d like.

“You feel good about providing people with things that they want. Our whole culture is made up of forced sales, advertising and engendering a feeling of lacking something. Television and advertising is basically a drug. People crave things that they don’t necessarily need or want. This whole artisan market is changing that. 

“I like to think that people view the Good Brownie Co. as though one of their neighbours has baked a cake and brought some over for them to try. It almost feels like a kind of trade-off knowing that you’re giving something to someone that you’ve enjoyed doing; giving them a piece of that passion.

“The best thing about these artisanal businesses is that people are providing you with something that they have a passion for. They’re not doing it because they don’t have a choice. It’s not like my mother’s telling me: ‘What are you going to do in life unless you bake brownies?’”


What were, if any, the biggest struggles that you have faced?

“I wouldn’t use the word struggles, instead I would use the word challenges. If it’s a struggle then it has a negative connotation but, a challenge is something that you look forward to overcoming. You find ways to get past it, and that’s the way it was here, it was like ‘oh ok, what do we do about that?’ So it’s all positive!

“So I guess if I were to try and pinpoint something then initially I kind of had a choice: do I want to go the market route and set up four or five market stalls? And from a business model perspective, did I want four or five market stalls and employ a few people and make it a little less personal? 

“I could’ve started to have the brownies made in a factory but I didn’t want to be removed from the process. So, I deliberately chose to keep it small so that I was doing most of the baking myself. I didn’t need to go beyond my own kitchen and I know the people that I work with well. I trust in them. 

“So the challenge was, do I go that route to get more revenue? But I decided no; it’s not about the money, it’s about providing a good product. I don’t want to make it into a machine that I can’t handle. I think when I had a business in Hong Kong I had 14 people working for me and it was a constant logistical headache, someone’s always sick, someone was always stealing and if one of the team let down my customers it was a headache. It was hard work and it was 24 hours a day. The challenge was to grow according to our needs and also maintain an income but with low stress levels.




What is the most interesting event that you’ve experienced? 

“In the business? Apart from meeting you? Actually, joking aside, it is meeting people like you. Meeting people is always a nice thing and you never know where it’s going to go and how the interaction is going to unfold. I like the intrigue around meeting new people. 

“Essentially people make the world happen. If you don’t meet people, then you don’t experience that; the good and the bad, they’re all part and parcel. I’ve had experiences that were unpleasant but I’ve learned from them. 

“For example, I’ve been to offices where the staff love me going in but for some reason the owner or manager hasn’t been very happy. In the two cases that I can think of it is because they have a specific agenda and if anything comes between them and their end goal, then they can sometimes react badly. 

“In one of these occasions I had been given permission to come in. Out of respect that he had invited me into his business and his place of work I was very accommodating, I didn’t make a fuss, I offered anyone brownies that wanted them, I was polite and left.

“On another occasion, however, I had come in with brownies as usual and I went to their desks and he just came running at me. I thought he was going to run into me and he just exploded at me saying ‘What the fuck are you doing? Who the fuck invited you in here?’. He could’ve just told me ‘I’d appreciate it if you didn’t come in anymore’ and that would have been fine. 

“What was interesting about that was the psychology and the mindset that people are in, they are so wrapped up in whatever it is that they are doing that can lose contact with basic humanity.”


What’s the best piece of business advice that you’ve ever received? 

“The best bits of advice are the ones that impact you negatively because they’re the things that you will learn and evolve from. The easy bits of advice make you feel good and boost your ego but don’t really help you in any way, whether it’s in your personal or professional life. The way to evolve from the negative feedback is to apply it in a way that makes you feel happy. It’s easy to put on a big smile and shake someone’s hand and give platitudes. 

“When someone doesn’t like a brownie, for example, it’s not a problem for me; it’s brilliant. It gives me an opportunity to make it better or to improve and perfect what I do. So I’m very interested in the person that doesn’t like my product. I want feedback. Whereas, people telling me they like them – as nice as that is and as much as it makes me feel good – it doesn’t instruct me on how to improve my service or product. 

“The Good Brownie Co. is more focused on the individual and connects me to the reality of what I’m doing. I’m baking for individuals, I’m not baking for people I never see, that what’s important to me.”


What’s the best thing about the people that you work with?

“I’ve got three people that work with me. One that’s a mainstay; that’s Megan and she’s been with me now for nearly a year. She’s an all-rounder and does graphic design for market stall set-ups. She’s reliable, honest and just all round good. With Megan, I found someone that I can trust, rely on and someone that can take some of the responsibility from me. 

“I enjoy doing everything, but as the business grows, the less time I have to specialise in any one area. I’d like to afford more time to bake and try new flavours; my most recent idea being caramelised onions. Despite having 21 flavours, I’m curious to try new ideas, but I haven’t got time to do that because I’m trying to maintain the existing infrastructure which is growing all the time.

“I also work with my wife Steph, the co-founder of the business as well. I love working with my wife and I love working from home because I get to spend time with my children.  Because I have a small team, it means that I like all the people I work with as people. I’m not stuck in a factory with fluorescent lights burning my retinas. I’m there with my family, I’m happy, I’m baking and my daughters are there laughing enjoying themselves. I give them bowls with flour and sugar and they play about with it and pretend to make brownies.

“Maybe that’s the difference between a homemade product that I do from my own kitchen and something baked in a production line where you don’t necessarily care as much because you don’t meet the people that are eating them. I’m in the position now that I feel lucky that I can bake them at home and take them out, it’s like having a dinner party in everyone’s office.




And the worst..?

“In any given day, I go into 30 offices. Some are small, some are big, some are rushing around to go to meetings, some are very caught up in what they are doing and don’t want to be disturbed. In other places they’ve got time to chit chat, and it’s a release for them for 10 minutes in their day. I have to judge and be aware of what they want or don’t want at any given time. It’s not always easy and I don’t always get it right. 

“The worst thing was the time where I thought that guy was going to hit me. That’s probably the worst scenario that you can come up with. Where a client wants to punch you in the face. Not because you’ve got a bad product, not because he doesn’t like you but because he’s venting on you for whatever his personal issues are. But, it’s all a learning curve. 

“I like to say that everyone that I deliver to is part of my team, because if they’re not happy, then they aren’t buying from me and that’s the end of my business. My worst-case scenario is that I never get to interact and it becomes a depersonalised service. People generally choose a product by its advertising potential, so luckily for me I’m not in that position where it’s about the power of my packaging and low price points that seduces people into buying my product. It’s me personally there able to talk about my products and interacting with the people I deliver to.”


What surprises you about working at The Good Brownie Co.?

“Different people have different tastes, so I have extended my menu to try and cater to everyone. What’s been a really big surprise for me has been people really liking my brownies. I haven’t yet come across anyone who has said it’s disgusting. What’s most surprising to me is when people say stuff like, ‘I don’t like chocolate but I really like your brownies’; quite emphatic about the fact that they haven’t got a sweet tooth but they buy my brownies all the time. Another thing that surprises me, is when people say stuff like ‘these are the best thing I’ve ever eaten’.”


What is your plan for the future?

“More of the same pretty much. It’s to try and keep an integral awareness of what I’m doing and try to expand it in a way that it doesn’t lose touch with my initial vision. That’s a very convoluted way of saying I love what I do; baking, creating and by extension giving that to people to try. So the future for me is building this to a point where it’s not overwhelming my ability to cater to the needs of other people.”


What is the single biggest piece of advice you would give to anyone setting up a business?

“Well, I would say the best advice is no advice, because advice is something that curtails your ability to express yourself. Good or bad advice it’s still pigeonholing. It’s still diverting people into becoming a narrowed version of themselves. 

“To be reliant on what other people say, inhibits what you do yourself. In practical terms, people can advise you on things like how to open a bank account, but no one can really advise you on your own imagination, your own sense of self, your own sense of value, your own sense of how you extradite your product into the wider world is up to you. The more freedom that you have to do that, the more innovative, the more compelled you are to think for yourself. Had I listened to all the advice I was given I wouldn’t have done anything. I wouldn’t have set this business up. I wouldn’t have done it the way I’ve done it.”


What has been the single biggest factor leading to the success of your business?

“There’s no single factor. It’s an amalgamation of all the contributory factors that create what I’ve got. If I reduce it to one single factor, the business isn’t really the business that it is. If I only did one type of brownie or only thought one way it would be a single monetary pursuit it would be a single expression of myself.”


If you are reading this and are tempted to try some for yourself (who wouldn’t?!?) head over to Goodbrownies.co.uk and chat to David about coming to your office or buying a packaged box.