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June 21, 2019 Peggy Liu

How Molly Girod rose to the top of the Vancouver vegan food scene

The vegan food industry has exploded in popularity in recent years. Many food outlets from high-end to fast food restaurants have expanded their menus to include vegan options to keep pace with the growing vegan movement.

For Molly Girod, her decision to enter this industry happened years earlier, before veganism became as commonplace as it is today. Starting her own vegan baking business wasn’t about keeping up with market trends — it was about bringing people together through sharing good food and nurturing her passion for creating.

Yellow Basket Baking was born from Girod’s childhood culinary passion and her aim to bring quality food to people who, out of necessity or preference, are more selective about the food they consume.

Sharing a meal is a core way for many people to develop and strengthen relationships, yet this can be a challenge for those who have dietary restrictions. As someone who grew up in a family with different food allergies and sensitivities, Girod grew up acutely aware of this challenge. She learned that the solution was to innovate her recipes to be more health-conscious.

Girod attended Vancouver Community College in her early twenties, where her interest in baking was further stoked by passionate teachers. She went on to receive a baking scholarship and worked as a pastry assistant
⁠— achievements that solidified her upward career trajectory in the food industry. The skills and knowledge she learned from these experiences would create the foundation for Yellow Basket.

Most Yellow Basket products are made with a croissant base, which Girod dedicated years to perfecting. The result is a flaky, buttery (but totally vegan!) dough.

To other budding entrepreneurs and small business owners struggling with the beginnings of their business journey, Girod advises to “start anywhere.” She is a believer that education happens in all forms ⁠— learning new skills for your business doesn’t have to be formal to be relevant or valuable. “Talk to as many people as you can. Read, learn, do some research,” she said. “And repeat,” she added, laughing.

Yellow Basket was originally co-owned by Girod and her sister Mallory as a pop-up market vendor. Eventually, Mallory decided to pursue a different career path but remains involved in running Yellow Basket’s social media and public relations.

The menu and sales have grown and evolved since the business’ inception and Girod successfully pushed the business towards selling wholesale last year. Amidst the brand’s rising popularity and success, Girod’s philosophy remains firmly grounded in simple values of community, passion, and sustainability.

She uses only ethically sourced local and organic ingredients to create quality products that are both delicious and environmentally friendly. Most of her products are made with a croissant base, which she dedicated years to perfecting. The result is a flaky, buttery (but totally vegan!) dough, available as a simple but satisfying sourdough croissant, decadent pain au chocolat, sweet cinnamon twist, and savory garlic knot. Even with positive feedback from numerous customers, Girod maintains a steady resolve to keep improving her recipes and develop new creations.

Girod cites her inextinguishable desire to push herself as the main reason her business was able to grow so successfully in the last two years. Owning a small business can be challenging when the work involves many facets, and she manages the admin, product delivery, and recipe development on top of the actual baking. “There’s no safety net when owning a small business. There’s always a problem, especially when you’re wearing so many hats in the business, so pushing for change and learning to adapt is important,” she says.

Despite enjoying the thrill of the multifaceted and fast-paced nature of her job, Girod highlights how much more efficient you can be as a business owner when you avoid rushing your business’s growth.

“Growing slowly is key,” she says. “Doing research and learning methodically is better than accepting too many projects before you’re ready.” Slowing down has allowed her the freedom to ensure not only that her products retain their quality but that her business choices continue to align with her core values. Whether it’s developing a new recipe, sourcing ingredients, or forging new partnerships, she makes a point of analyzing her decisions to ensure Yellow Basket is growing according to her vision.

Girod continues to be a vibrant presence at multiple farmer’s markets and vegan expo events. Since one of her favourite parts of her job is connecting with her customers, she encourages people to visit in person and say hello. Her products can be found at multiple cafes across Metro Vancouver or ordered online through the Yellow Basket Baking website.

Photos by Peggy Liu

Peggy Liu

Peggy Liu is a freelance writer and content creator and editor. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in English Literature, where she was also a mental health columnist for the student newspaper. When she isn't digging her way to the bottom of a peanut butter jar or petting friendly dogs around Vancouver, she can be found sitting in cafes with a notebook and a cup of coffee.