Jazz Shaper: Alice Williams

Posted on 04 June 2022

Alice Williams is the founder of Luminary Bakery, an award-winning social enterprise supporting some of the UK's most disadvantaged women to reach their potential by providing training, employment & community.

Luminary has 2 bakeries in London (their Camden bakery was opened by The Duchess of Sussex) and an online store selling celebration cakes and letterbox treats. They stock venues such as Ben & Jerry's Soho scoop-shop, and have been featured in The Telegraph, TimeOut, The Times & Vogue. Alice has previously worked in youth work, marketing, café management and supporting women to exit prostitution in Bangkok, Thailand.


Luminary was set up to empower women who couldn’t get opportunities elsewhere - women who were really on the margins and experiencing violence and disadvantage. 

There’s a lot of wealth and there’s such a disconnect and I couldn’t believe that those two things could exist together; there needs to be ways for people who’ve had those kinds of experiences to be able to move forward and see a different future for themselves. 

We wanted women to be able to build a different future for themselves and not be surviving day-to-day, but rather actually building something for themselves and for families. 

Women that we work with have never taken a moment for themselves, they’ve always been in survival mode. 

To be given the opportunity to get a bit creative and to make something that someone wants to pay money for brings a lot of value and purpose to an individual. 

There’s a lot of self-esteem building when it works and it goes right. There’s a lot of resilience built. 

We see ourselves as kind of the final jigsaw piece in a woman’s life before she is able to move on and live independently. 

I think having a really strong team is essential because I need to know that that woman is looked after even if I am not available and be clear with her about what she can expect from Luminary and what she can’t. 

Not all decisions that the business makes are commercial decisions -they are balancing commercial with impact and mission decisions. 

There is a constant balancing act of “is this decision balancing profitability with having the biggest impact that we possibly can in a woman’s life and then in as many women’s lives as possible”. 

A really good example was in my parents and in the church that I grew up in, where you do what you can to look after people around you. That was instilled in me early on. 

I’m very collaborative in the way I make decisions and I quite deliberately have built like a senior leadership team and a board who are very different to me because I know that that’s where strength lies – knowing when you’re covering all bases. 

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