Mar 7, 2024 - News

The Shift: Tyler Hopwood kneads bread business from scratch

A photo of a man in a black t-shirt that reads "Hopwood Breads."

Tyler Hopwood. Photo: Chloe Hansberger

St. Louis native Tyler Hopwood's pastime for comfort turned into a business making comfort food for Northwest Arkansans.

Why it matters: Hopwood Breads is an example of the many startups bubbling as NWA shifts its economy away from dependence on a few big companies.

Driving the news: The artisan bread with a cult following is now available at Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville, and Hopwood will have a booth at the Fayetteville Farmers Market beginning in April, he told Worth.

  • His loaves and one-of-a-kind sourdough doughnuts were previously only available through pop-ups and subscriptions β€” frequently held at breweries β€” to his 3,100 followers on Instagram.

The big picture: During the COVID-19 pandemic, workers stuck at home turned to hobbies like crochet, gardening and baking sourdough. Many posted their results on social media.

Composite photos of baked goods - the first shows rows of cream-filled doughnuts and the second four loaves of sourdough bread.
Hopwood's cream-filled doughnuts (left) and loaves of sourdough bread. Photos: Tyler Hopwood

Backstory: Hopwood started watching a couple's pandemic journey with sourdough on YouTube β€” now Proof Breads in Arizona β€” mostly to fill time and because he found it soothing.

  • Before long, he was working to perfect his own recipe.
  • "It's like having a pet that determines your income," Hopwood told Worth of the starter that requires nurturing, feeding and controlled temperature.

In 2023, he joined a business accelerator organized by Cureate, a food-focused consulting company of Fayetteville. At the end of the program, he won the final-pitch competition and was awarded $5,000.

  • He bought a bread oven with the dough.

Between the lines: Hopwood currently churns out about 80 loaves and 80 cream-filled doughnuts a week, using about 100 pounds of flour. He mills the whole-grain flour used in some recipes himself.

The bottom line: He's waiting to see how the spring and summer seasons go and if he can double production, but he has no plans for a brick-and-mortar location.

  • Hopwood hopes to eventually have a shared kitchen and more food service and grocery clients.

🍞The Shift is a regular feature to catch up quick on what's happening in Arkansas' economy and entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More NW Arkansas stories

No stories could be found

NW Arkansaspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios NW Arkansas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more