JBird Bakery – Flying High on Bloomfield Avenue
NR spoke to Jeannie McConnell, the woman behind the popular little bakery on Bloomfield Avenue – and discovers that studying for a degree in physics and astrophysics can literally take you anywhere.
When Jeannie McConnell set off to study physics and astrophysics at Queen’s University, as a starry eyed young student, little did she think that her academic endeavours would lead her to a rewarding career in cupcakes.
Creativity was in her DNA though – and after studying at Queen’s, Jeannie wanted to set science aside and explore her artistic side.
“When I was studying I found that sewing was my creative outlet – so I went to the Art College to do a Masters in Textile Design. Then, when I was studying textiles I found that baking became my creative outlet – it was something I really loved to do, so I decided to set up JBird.”
And the stars just seemed to align. As Jeannie needed premises – where better than the place where her grandmother once ran a bakery – known locally as Betty Hagen’s Snacstor, much loved in the neighbourhood.
The premises, still owned by her grandparents, became available at just the right time for Jeannie to make a go if it. “They were delighted for it to be back in the family!”” said Jeannie.
In July 2010, Jeanie opened JBird (her nickname since she was a child) and enlisted the help of her mum and aunt.
That was 11 years ago – and in the interim, Jeannie has had three children, as well as a thriving business – which she operates around her full-on role as a working mum.
“We’ve been so lucky since then – we have a loyal customer base and passing trade too – it’s pretty idyllic really” said Jeannie. With three small children she has her hands full, but her mum, dad and family are always on hand to help out – and as the focus is on the cupcakes – rather than breads – the bakery is blessed with not having to worry about excessively early starts.
“Our focus is on cakes and cupcakes. When I started the cupcake towers were becoming really popular for weddings. People can’t resist cupcakes!”
With popular flavours including Red Velvet, Pink Lemonade, Chocolate Caramel, Strawboffee, Lemon Cheesecake, Cookies and Cream, Rhubarb and Custard, Honey Bun and Ruby Chocolate – all hand crafted and beautifully presented, it’s clear to see why JBird’s mouth-watering Cupcakes and Cakes have become so popular – both by word of mouth and reputation.
For the perfect work life balance, and with three little JBirds of her own – the bakery is only open Thursday through to Saturday.
“The business is my fourth baby” laughs Jeannie. “I just love it and it’s really important to me. I have plans for the future, to develop it further. Online sales have been brilliant – it cuts down on the admin work and Click & Collect means we are open all hours, 24/7 – people order cupcakes at all hours of the day and night. It’s amazing!”