Kitty Tait turned her life around with baking, and now she’s inspiring others to do the same.
British teen Kitty Tait wakes up at 5 a.m. every day to bake bread, but it’s not not just any old bread.
The 18-year-old who runs the Orange Bakery in her home town of Watlington, Oxfordshire, with her dad Alex, 52, adds a little humor to her bakes. For instance, her latest creation — the Corgi Butter Butt — consists of a brioche bun in the likeness of her Corgi’s derriere.
“If something is fun to eat, it makes it even tastier!” the teen baking star, who overcame depression after discovering the art of bread making, tells PEOPLE.
It was watching her dad make a simple loaf of white bread in 2018 that changed her life forever. “Something that was so unpromising – a bit like how my brain felt at the time – had turned into something so magical,” she recalls.
Soon, Tait was baking loaves for her neighbors. And before she knew it, there was a subscription service followed by a pop-up in her neighbor’s garage where she sold almost 100 loaves of bread and doughnuts in half an hour. “In that moment I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life,” she says.
A few months later, after raising enough money through crowdfunding, the teen rented a small retail space in town and her dad quit his job teaching to become her business partner. They’ve been running the Orange Bakery ever since, selling everything from Marmite and cheese swirls to tiramisu Danish pastries.
“I’m just really excited about people eating good bread, whether it’s making it themselves or going to a bakery to buy it,” says Tait. “My main mission is to make bread inclusive and joyful because I have found so much joy in it.”
It’s a stark contrast from her struggles in her early teens. At age 14, the bubbly chatty young girl become overwhelmed by depression and anxiety.
“It would be really hard to go through the motions of the day, I would smile and laugh because it was expected of me but I wouldn’t actually feel the happiness,” she recalls.
This went on for about six months before Tait had a breakdown. “It was like I built this mask for myself and then one day it just shattered overnight and I couldn’t do it anymore; I couldn’t shower, I couldn’t eat, I just didn’t want to function,” she says.
Today, the Taits are part of the global baking community — the famous Tartine bakery in San Francisco backed their Kickstarter and offered advice — running baking classes at local schools with plans to set up a micro-bakery at their local prison.
Their latest idea? ‘Make-your-own’ bread bags, the profits of which will go to charity.
They have also written a book called Breadsong, named after the hiss and crackle that loaves make when they are fresh out of the oven, in which Tait talks openly about her past struggles.
“I was able to look back and reflect, I got an extraordinary sense of pride in the contrast of going back to that dark place and realizing how far I’ve come,” she says. “It was actually empowering.”
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.