Downtown Farmers’ Market Vendor Spotlight: Bella Bread
Looking for a booth to visit at this weekend’s Downtown Farmers’ Market? Don’t miss the chance to stop by Bella Henry’s where Bella Bread is available to shoppers. Find your favorite flavors from original sourdough to cinny walnut.
Bella Henry Q+A
Q: What is your business?
Bella Henry: Bella Bread is a gluten-free, vegan sourdough company. My intention is to make bread that everyone can enjoy the taste and texture of while being confident in the ingredients being high-quality.
Q: What do you specialize in?
BH: I specialize in gluten-free and vegan sourdough. Everything I make right now is naturally leavened with a gluten-free starter. A lot of people assume that with a regular, wheat-based sourdough the gluten can be fermented out of it and that just isn’t the case. While it does break down the proteins to make it more digestible, if someone has a real intolerance to gluten, they shouldn’t consume wheat sourdough as it still contains that potentially triggering ingredient.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
BH: I personally got to a point where my body wasn’t agreeing with gluten. With this, I was having trouble finding gluten-free bread that tasted good and didn’t feel like cardboard in my mouth. I also wasn’t interested in eating gluten-free breads with a bunch of unnecessary ingredients (sugar, seed oils, dairy, egg, gums, etc).
I have been a home baker since I was little, so I got experimental with bread. I was really fascinated by fermentation and the fact that I could just create my own starter that sort of “grows” the bread. It took me a while to get the original sourdough I sell today but ultimately, I think I killed it. About a year after I had just been making it for myself, a mentor of mine encouraged me to sell it. Almost three years later, here we are!
Q: How long have you had your business?
BH: She will be 3 in November!
Q: How long have you been a part of the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market?
BH: I worked the Winter Market in 2022 but this season is my first at the summer-fall Downtown Farmers’ Market.
Q: What products do you normally bring to The Market?
BH: I usually bring my original loaves, my cinnamon walnut or a seasonal loaf (golden apricot is a favorite in the summer), pretzels and one of my many bagel flavors. Some flavors of bagels I have brought to The Market so far include the cinnamon raisin, everything, blueberry and strawberry.
Q: What’s your favorite part about The Market?
BH: My favorite part about The Market is how sweet a lot of my new regulars are here. I have had so many people come to my stand after purchasing bread the previous week and express how much they loved it and those in-person reviews make my heart melt every single time. I just adore those interactions. It is one of the many reasons that I can keep waking up at 2:45 a.m. on Saturdays to come to Des Moines.
Q: What memory stands out the most when you look back at your time at The Market?
BH: Once I had a woman tell me she came all the way from Minnesota just for my bread. I don’t know if my bread really was the only reason, but it was a fun little ego boost that day.
Q: What advice would you have for new vendors?
BH: My advice for new vendors is to have options and listen to what your customers want. I try to have multiple flavors so someone who doesn’t like sweet can get the OG sourdough or someone who doesn’t like a strong sourdough taste can get the blueberry bagels. People are picky (same here!) and apparently a lot of people don’t like raisins so for those people, I’ve got you covered.
Q: How can people support your business outside of The Market?
BH: Outside of The Market I sell out of about 30 retailers throughout the Midwest, I have a store locator on my website if you want to find bread near you. I also offer shipping and you can order whatever you’d like through BellaBread.com.
From May to October, experience local artists, live music and entertainment at the Downtown Farmers’ Market featuring more than 300 family farmers, bakers, artists and crafters from around the state. It’s easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options. Find the latest updates for The Market each week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.