Little Loaf Bakeshop is a small business with a big vision. The queer-owned and operated bakery, which is based in New York’s Hudson Valley, is known for its high-quality creative pastries as well as co-owners Rian Finnegan and Colleen Orlando’s commitment to making their venture ethical, sustainable and supportive of the local community.
The bakery launched in 2021, although the business has been a longtime dream of Finnegan and Orlando. In addition to operating a cafe at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory (a historic factory that has been repurposed into residential, commercial and community space), the couple sells their pastries at farmers markets and via wholesale accounts.
Finnegan describes the bakery’s products as “always vegetarian, often vegan and sometimes gluten-free.” The menu varies with the season and includes both sweet and savory items like mushroom danishes, pretzel croissants, sour cherry pistachio croissants and cream cheese cinnamon rolls. Orlando has been baking for over a decade and she cites her experience, access to local ingredients and other people’s creations as her inspirations. She also enjoys developing vegan pastries, which are an important component of Little Loaf Bakeshop’s business.
“Something we didn’t predict was how our vegan croissants and specialty items took off,” said Orlando. “I get to challenge myself by doing more and more vegan baking.”
In addition to the extensive selection of vegan items, Little Loaf Bakeshop’s products are unique in that the pastries are made with as many local ingredients as possible.
“We’re making a Hudson Valley croissant: the butter is made in central New York, and the flour is from grain grown and milled in Dutchess County,” said Orlando. “We start with quality ingredients and ones that are specific to the area. Our oyster mushrooms are harvested and delivered the same day, and we sometimes get the butter for croissants the day it’s made.”
Sourcing fresh, local ingredients is just one example of how Finnegan and Orlando’s values are baked into their bakery’s business model.
“We want to focus on employee well-being in the workplace. We want the opportunity to create something in support of our employees,” Finnegan explained. “Our products aren’t cheap…we want to charge what [they] are worth so that we can support our employees and not do things at the expense of the folks who bring our products to life.”
Finnegan notes that their identity is also integral to Little Loaf Bakeshop.
“It’s really important for us to be a visibly queer couple in the Hudson Valley owning a business together and to create an environment supportive and inviting for all, especially queer youth,” they say. “It’s important for us to be out there and proud of who we are and supportive of our queer community.”
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