Vanderbilt seniors launch Early Risers, a local bread bakery

Seniors Julia Finfrock and Sarah Chappell turn their favorite hobby, breadmaking, into an Instagram business

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Early Risers, a local bread bakery made by and for Vanderbilt students. Screenshot from Instagram @earlyrisers.sourdough (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

Savannah Dupper

When Julia Finfrock (‘21) and Sarah Chappell (‘21) began learning how to bake sourdough bread as a quarantine hobby, they were by no means anticipating what would soon become a profitable business venture. Their love for loaves came straight from the kitchen (and heart). 

“My dad had a [bread] starter, and every week we tried baking loaves,” Chappell said. “At first, we were really bad at it, and then we got better and better. And everyone in our house would just eat it all and want more loaves from us. That’s when we decided to start selling it.”

Finfrock and Chappell launched Early Risers this year, making each loaf to order on Vanderbilt’s Greek Row in the Tri Delta sorority house. The team has sold more than 250 loaves thus far, taking their orders from customers over the phone and through Instagram DMs. 

Pumpkin Spice loaf from Early Risers. Screenshot from Instagram @earlyrisers.sourdough (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

Making sourdough bread is a time consuming process that takes about three to four hours a day, per Finfrock. She, along with Chappell, perfected the sourdough process through web tutorials and cookbooks. 

“The business has blown up a lot more than we thought it would,” Finfrock said. “But it’s given us great experience, being able to talk to people and take orders. It’s especially rewarding when people send us cool things that they make with their bread. We’ve also been able to make our own flavors and experiment with that, which is fun.” 

Although the process might be time consuming, it serves as a stress reliever from school and has given the girls an enjoyable way to start their days, Chappell said. 

“Honestly, baking and folding the bread is a nice stress reliever from college and I love waking up early to start the bread,” Chappell said. “I really look forward to the baking part as well and seeing people enjoy the bread is probably the best part of everything.” 

Chappell and Finfrock had planned to work part-time jobs this semester, but Early Risers has allowed baking to become their primary source of income. Chappell and Finfrock sell original loaves for seven dollars and flavored loaves for nine dollars, while also offering customers the option to subscribe for a weekly loaf.

“We spent a lot of money at the beginning buying supplies and ingredients,” Finfrock said. “But now we’ve actually started to make a profit which is really exciting. We definitely plan to keep Early Risers going through next semester.” 

To get your hands on an Early Risers loaf, follow their Instagram and check out their new, seasonal flavors.