Meet the Maker: Kristen Fenn, Pastry Maker

Meet the Maker: Kristen Fenn, Pastry Maker

“It’s not natural for anybody to be waking up at two o'clock in the morning, day in and day out,” says Kristen Fenn, Bakery Lead for Pastry at King Arthur Baking Company.

But getting up at 2:00 a.m. is part of what it takes to make great bread and pastries, and to have them fresh and warm for customers and visitors six hours later.

King Arthur has a sprawling, beautiful modern bakery, café, and store just off I-91 in Norwich. It also runs baking classes, and has a huge online trove of recipes, tips, and educational information. And, as a B Corp, it is committed to making an impact, to making planet-forward, people-positive business decisions. Founded in 1790, the company has been employee-owned since 2004, which makes Kristen not just a baker, not just an employee, but an owner.

“I think everyone does harness that [ownership]” Kristen says, “you take pride in your job, but then you also realize that your contribution is a piece of the puzzle, and you're working towards this goal of being the best that we can be.”

Kristen’s baking journey began at her vocational high school in New Hampshire. She says she wanted to be a vet, but the [small animal veterinary] program was super popular and filled right up. “So I was put in culinary arts,” she recalls, “I performed really well, did a statewide competition, placed first, and then competed nationally. After graduation, my mom and I opened a bakery together.”

They ran the bakery for nearly a decade, Kristen says, but “it was a lot of work with very little return on investment.” And so, by 2007, she was “at a point in my life where I was looking to buy a house, get married, maybe start having kids. I realized I had to make a change.” And so the Fates spoke: she heard a radio ad looking for a seasonal position at King Arthur. She got the job and began rising (bakery pun intended) to the position where she is now, overseeing the 234-year-old company’s team of pastry bakers.

“It's one of those jobs,” Kristen says, “where you are always learning from those working alongside you. Part of my job is to make sure everybody is living their best life. I mean, we all get up so early, you have to make that worth it. I strive to make sure that everyone is invested in having a great time and feeling like they're inspired and happy, that's a big part of my job too.”

And that means building a great team.

“When I interview people for jobs,” Kristen says, “I'm looking for their willingness to learn and what they have to contribute. I have an incredible staff who are dedicated, inspiring, and make it fun to be here. I think that's what helps get us in here so early in the morning.”

So what does she love most about being a maker + baker?

“That end product,” she says. “That and having people reach out for specific things because they’ve enjoyed it in the past and they want it again. Or it's that connection of the Dartmouth students who met each other at the cafe and now they're coming to us for their wedding cake… Or when you can look out the windows [of the bakery, which face the café and store] and see people chatting over coffee and a pastry. That's such a great scene.”

And the croissants are pretty terrific too.


The Vermont Maker Project

Telling stories about makers across the state of Vermont. Photographed and written by StoryWorkz. Learn more at

Vermont makers wear Vermont Flannel.

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