Food has always been a source of inspiration and a creative outlet for me. From an early age, I’ve developed a passion for cooking, which led to my first job in a hotel restaurant. This was an incredibly exciting and formative time that left quite an impression on me. Though my education career took me in a different path professionally, I was able to continue using my passion for food as my creative outlet. During this time, I develop my passion for traditional Italian breads from a book I picked up called “The Il Fornaio Baking Book” (from an Italian Bakery in San Francisco). I was introduced to producing a “biga”, the incredible aromas, the silky textures of the dough, the techniques to rest and shape the bread, baking on stone, using a peel (and a snap of the wrist) to get the loaf in the oven, misting the oven to produce an incredible crust, and of course, the heavenly results. All possible in our small university apartment.
As time went on, and we moved to different places, and began travelling, I sought out opportunities to enhance my food and baking experience and grow my passions. In 2008, we had the incredible opportunity to move back to our home town of Prince George, and ironically, this was where my love of freshly milled flour was born.
At the local farmers market, a family friend had a bakery on their farm called Red Rooster Artisan Bakery. They made incredible bread (and always sold out early). In chatting with Monica (the master baker) about my love for bread and recent bread baking course I did in Paris (learning how to make Parisian baguettes), she casually mentioned that she did a weekend bread baking course at her bakery (in which they built their own wood fired oven).
I wasted no time signing up, and on a cold wet snowy Saturday in mid-November, I drove out to their farm, in the Upper Mud River Valley and entered the warm, cozy bakery. For someone who loves making bread, this was like stepping into a little piece of heaven. The small bakery building was built around this huge wood fired oven. The fire had been going since 5am and with an oven like this, you bake the various things as the oven heat slowly reduces. Within this amazing setting we quickly started learning the fine points of how to make this amazing bread. This is where I was transformed. We started by grinding the flour from organic wheat grain, using a beautiful European handmade stone mill. The incredible flour that came out of this mill, was nothing like any flour I had used before. It had an incredible wholesome aroma, it was light and airy….it was full of life!!!! Taking this flour and then simply mixing it flour, water, salt and incorporating the “chef” (i.e. a natural leavened starter), just further enhanced this transformational experience. After the day was over, we had beautiful formed loaves of dough that rested overnight in linen lined bannetons. The next day we baked the fresh bread, and it was magical.
I was absolutely captivated by freshly milled flour. We began milling and using fresh flour for all of our baking from our breads, cakes, cookies, and Saturday morning pancakes with fresh milled whole grain flour are a mainstay. We were able to try out different grains (hard red winter was our “go to” for breads, but then being able to try Spelt and Einkorn in different cakes and baking). This was quite the baking adventure we could share with our two young boys as they were growing up.
Throughout this time, my personal passions for food slowly started coming together with my professional passions of contemporary business approaches and business model innovation. Quite unexpectedly, I developed a very strong passion for business when in the early 2000s, I was asked to take a leadership role in a previous company I was a partner in. The company was struggling, and using a traditional competitive business model almost ended us. At that time, I was very new to business and took a “keep it simple” approach. In a nutshell, we had to focus on what we did best and not define ourselves by our competitors (i.e. which was the crux of our earlier downfall). I was very intrigued by more contemporary approaches to business and in turn, developed a much more collaborative business model which allowed our company to flourish in many ways. Surprisingly, I really loved business but I didn’t understand why until I read the book “Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great instead of Big”. One of the influential chapters was called the “Art of Business” and it helped me understand that business can be a very creative process, it was the creativity in business that I loved. Like an artist creating a painting, you have all the same tools as other artists, but it’s the creativity, innovativeness, vision, etc. that makes the difference in creating a masterpiece. This book also introduced me to amazing companies that were so inspirational (i.e. leading with purpose, values, focused on culture and building incredible experiences with their customers). This passion for business led me to complete my MBA in 2012, which further fueled my passion for contemporary business approaches and philosophies. I had an insatiable appetite for learning from other amazing companies. In this journey, I got to know many other Small Giants (through the Small Giants Community formed from the book)
In 2016, I sold my company shares and formed my own company (Innovas Consulting) and became an Executive-in-Residence for a program to build and support innovative businesses within our province. This enabled me to further develop my professional passions by working with and advising dozens of incredible companies in our region.
This is where it all comes together. I wanted to develop a way in which I would stay current with the latest things available to businesses. I thought no better way than to start a company from the ground up. This would also be an opportunity to build a company of my dreams from a strong foundation using all the lessons I’ve learned (…and continue to learn). It would also be an opportunity to have my two young boys involved, so they could experience the wonders and creativity of building a business with a contemporary approach. They have been involved ineverything from choosing the type of business (and why), the values of the business, the vision, incorporation of the business, developing the branding, choosing the equipment (and going to the factory where the mill is handmade), planning, designing and construction of the space for the business, choosing the organic and heirloom varieties of grain, and all other decisions (they are great decision makers).
To figure out what kind of business to embark upon, we started with our passions, and quickly came to food, and then our love of freshly milled flour. I loved this idea as it was an opportunity to take a very traditional type of business and put a vibrant and healthy new spin on it. Commercial flour has become such a commoditized and lifeless product since it is stripped of its natural flavours, aromas and nutrients to make it shelf stable. Very few people realize how absolutely incredible flour can be when it’s freshly milled in terms of its flavour, aromas, texture and nutrition. It is these magical qualities of fresh-milled flour that we want to highlight in our business; to use old-world technology (traditional handcrafted stone mill) to slowly and freshly grind flour to unleash its incredible flavours, aromas, textures and to keep in all the nutrients. Then using new world technology (e-commerce) to mill-on-demand and quickly get this phenomenally fresh flour into the hands of our wonderfully creative customers.
This has been an incredible journey and one that we are now sharing with you. We love being able to create a business that we can be immensely proud of and that excites, delights and nourishes our amazing customers.
Warmest regards,Kevin Pettersen, founder/president
Black Fox Flour’s Purpose and Values
We love the idea of establishing a strong foundation for our business, right from the very beginning so that the business is purpose-based and values-driven.
Our purpose is simple...to nourish.
Our values extend from our purpose
What we do
“We produce phenomenally fresh flour from BC grown organic grains, illuminating its incredible flavours, aromas and nutrition”
Proudly located in Prince George, on the banks of the Nechako River, we use a traditional handcrafted stone mill to slowly grind phenomenally fresh flour from BC grown organic grains (including heritage and ancient grain varieties). Our flour is milled-on-demand to ensure the shortest time possible between milling and reaching our incredibly passionate baking customers. This ensures the ultimate freshness, flavour and nutrition of our amazing flour.
Grain varieties milled for flour include:
We look forward to nourishing you with our phenomenally fresh and wholesome flour!
Why we chose the name Black Fox Flour
We chose the name Black Fox Flour for the black foxes that live and play around our home in Prince George on the banks the Nechako River. To us, the black fox symbolizes cleverness, quickness, playfulness, togetherness/family/community, dedication, intrigue, focus, and perseverance. The fox also brings to mind nature and the balance it plays in nature (the sketch below with the fox in the wheat field intrigued by the beetle on the stem of wheat represents this really well).
Our branding and logo
We worked with a wonderfully talented and creative designer on our branding and absolutely loved what they created for us. The background of the logo is the pattern (called a quarter dress pattern) on the handcrafted grinding stone in the mill, and the foreground is the profile of the black fox with its characteristic flowing, fluffy white-tipped tail. We love how it creates a cohesive, clean and timeless representation of our brand.