The people of Swansea have been bowled over by Bowla – the bowl with a roll – since it hit the bakery scene in April 2023.

The idea was born from a mistake with a second-hand bread making machine many years ago and has transformed into a viable, and growing, business with strong ambitions beyond its current site in Swansea indoor market. At the helm is 24-year-old entrepreneur Hannah Worth and her dad Clayton, who developed the patented Bowla moulds used to produce the bowler hat-shaped rolls.

“The past year has been a rollercoaster,” Hannah tells British Baker. “Building a brand from the ground up has been hard work but we are finally getting our name out there and making our mark little by little every day.”

A young woman in a yellow jumper and black apron with her dad, dressed in black, holding a tray of buns

Source: Bowla

Hannah and her father Clayton

Bowla was launched with the support of Big Ideas Wales, a Welsh Government funded service that, as part of Business Wales, aims to support anyone between the age of five and 25 to develop a business idea. Working with business advisor Mikayla Bloomfield, Bowla’s business plan was refined, and Hannah secured funding through the Young Person’s Start Up Grant. The funding was used to invest in bespoke Bowla branded uniforms for staff, a card reader, flyers, customer loyalty cards, banners, and other essential supplies needed to formally establish the trading site.

Since opening its first location, the business has hosted a pop-up event at Mumbles Market, catered large corporate lunches, and has received multiple awards including three from the National Market Traders Federation (the UK’s national body for market and street traders), the South Wales Regional Food & Drink Awards, and the Swansea Local Food & Drink Awards.

There might be space for Bowla in mainstream retail, in bakeries, and possibly supermarkets

The business has changed over the past year, with more change on the cards for the future. One thing that hasn’t changed is its ethos. “We are still a brand that focuses on spreading warmth, comfort and enjoyment through our Bowlas – a substantial and affordable meal for all to enjoy.”

Priced at £5 in store, Bowlas come in a variety of flavours including cracked black pepper, white, 50/50, and garlic & rosemary. Once consumers have selected their base, they can then choose from a changing menu of warming fillings including Welsh lamb cawl, Punjabi spiced chickpea curry, and vegan meatballs in a tomato & basil sauce, plus toppings of cheese, crispy onions, and dried chives.

Expansion plans

Trials with delivery platforms Deliveroo and Uber Eats are also underway as Bowla looks to expand its reach to more people.

“We have built a good foundation – we have people and customers who love our product and follow what we do,” Hannah explains. “We want to continue to grow our audience and grow as much as possible in the short term to ensure long term success,” she adds, noting that this includes extended its opening hours and exploring how to take the product to the next stage.

TikTok is set to be a key weapon in its arsenal as Hannah shares her ambition to “prove Bowla’s popularity and be the next viral foodie item” within the next year. An online store is also in the works allowing fans to buy bread boxes and branded merchandise.

@abowlwitharoll Introducing Bowla - A Bowl With A Roll 🎩🍞 Join us at our pilot location, Swansea Indoor Market stall number 62, and dive into the world of this innovative bowler-hat-shaped loaf. 🌟 This unique creation can be filled with anything your heart desires, from savory to sweet, the options are truly endless! 🤤 Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming events and other exciting locations where you can satisfy your taste buds with this brand-new Welsh innovation. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Available to order on Uber Eats & Deliveroo! #TheBowla #BreadInnovation #SwanseaMarketDelights #WelshInnovation #FoodLoversUnite #fyp #foryou #Bowla #ABowlWithARoll #swanseafoodies #welshfoodspots ♬ original sound - Bowla - A Bowl With A Roll

In the next two to three years, the father and daughter team would like to see Bowlas being sold across the UK, and to supply moulds to other bakeries under license allowing for further distribution into restaurants, sporting events, festivals, and more. What’s more, Bowla is on the lookout for a small to medium gluten-free bakery to partner with to extend its reach into this market as well.

“If we can prove that people in the UK want to buy Bowlas to fill them for dinner parties or for a fun dinner, there might be space for them in mainstream retail, in bakeries and possibly supermarkets,” she adds.

There’s a lot to keep the Worths busy then as they get set to celebrate Bowla’s one-year anniversary.

Summarising the year, Hannah says it has been one of personal and professional growth. “It’s tough to get into the baking industry as it’s so established and there are so many amazing bakers, bakeries and bakery items on the market,” she notes, adding that there’s a lot to be said for “resilience and having belief in your vision”.

“My confidence is growing, along with my love and appreciation for the industry,” she says. “I have learnt that you only get out what you put in, and that progress isn’t linear. The experience has been so fulfilling and rewarding and I cannot wait to see what the future holds here on planet Bowla.”