Welcome to the latest feature on The Sourdough People website, sourdoughbread.ca! Today, we’re thrilled to present an exclusive interview with Joshua, the innovative mind behind the revolutionary baking tool, Doap. Based in the heart of Nashville’s vibrant music and baking scene, Joshua has combined his passion for music and baking into creating Doap, a unique silicone dough-cleaning tool designed to make the lives of bakers everywhere a little bit easier and a lot more fun. A professional musician turned baker and inventor, Joshua’s journey is as intriguing as it is inspiring. For more behind-the-scenes insights and fun social media posts, don’t forget to follow @getdoap on Instagram.
Join us as we dive into the story of Doap and the creative force behind it.
Joshua, what inspired you to create Doap and how has your personal experience with baking influenced its development?
First, I would like to say thank you for creating this thoughtful and entertaining platform within our kind, creative, and supportive community. Bakers are such a wonderfully strange and fascinating people!
As some may know, I am a lifelong professional touring and session musician, and in the year 2020, like many people, I found myself out of work with a lot of free time on my hands. I am half-French, and spent much of my life breathing second-hand cigarette smoke, drinking red wine, cooking, and most importantly, making bread.
My bread making involved simple recipes that used commercial yeasts, but during the pandemic, I got very deep into the art of true sourdough bread making (thanks be to Sarah Owens, Vanessa Kimball, and a shortage of yeast in supermarkets).
Coincidentally, a close musician friend also started making sourdough, and we entered into a friendly rivalry to see who could make the best bread. We exchanged tips and tricks, secret methods, and special ingredients, and before long, we founded a micro-bakery supplying delicious naturally leavened, long-fermented organic sourdough throughout Nashville.
At that point, my go-to method for washing dough from my hands involved rubbing a silicone spatula between my hands, which I found worked quite a bit faster than just washing with water.
It was during one of those spatula washes that the idea for Doap came to my mind fully formed the way a song or poem sometimes does (I think a lightbulb actually appeared above my head.) The crudest early prototypes worked so well that I knew instantly it would be a great help to my fellow bakers with their own sticky dough-hands.
How does Doap’s silicone design outperform traditional dough-cleaning methods?
I have yet to try anything that works better than Doap for removing sticky dough from hands, and I think I’ve tried it all. From rubbing flour between my hands over a trash can (wasteful and expensive), murdering sponges by the dozen (poor innocent sponges), using just water (takes forever), the afore-mentioned spatula method, dough-scrapers, paper towels, dish towels, and bath towels. Doaps soft and supple silicone nubs work quicker and easier than all of them.
Plus it’s just a lot of fun to use!
In what ways has Nashville’s vibrant music culture influenced the design and functionality of Doap?
I love this question, but find that Doap was much more influenced by my childhood experience of growing up within the electric, eclectic energy of Hollywood in the 1980’s.
Life at that time was a kaleidoscope of color, taste, sound, and possibilities. Boundary-erasing art was intertwined into every aspect of culture, from movies and TV to music and food. Self-expression, rather than commoditization of the self seemed to be the cultural currency of the day.
It was in this climate that a young mind such as mine probably became warped and corrupted enough to envision a nubby silicone scrubbing bar.
What challenges did you face when developing the hand-safe silicone used for Doap?
The best way to answer this question is by saying that “anything worth doing is worth doing wrong”.
The road of our lives is hopefully littered with many failures, for that is the surest and fastest way to grow. And the sooner we become comfortable with seeing failure as a helpful friend and steadfast companion, the greater our chances become of living up to our true innate potential as humans, friends, parents, and artists.
While developing Doap, I tried many, many recipes and types of silicones. You could call them all failures. But I happen to LOVE experimenting (AKA failing) and in the end, it led me to understand what makes an exceptionally high-quality silicone, and that is why I opted to use an American-made silicone that has been rigorously lab tested for hand and skin safety.
It’s exactly like knowing and tasting the difference between a true naturally leavened organic sourdough, and a “supermarket” sourdough. They’re both bread, but it takes experience to know why only one is the genuine article.
Describe a typical day at your Nashville workshop where Doap is handcrafted?
9AM: Make some coffee from our local roaster OSA. See if the feral cat Lenny is outside and feed that fluffy guy and maybe get some pets in.
10AM: Head to post office and drop off orders. Take a minute to admire the giant wall of framed, autographed 8×10’s of various country artists and their amazing hair-do’s (and hair dont’s).
11AM: Slap on some headphones and put on music; maybe a Weyes Blood or Big Thief station, but maybe it’s a Brian Eno or Howlin’ Wolf kind of day. Prepare batches of silicone, mix colors, and begin making Doap. Remember to take tea breaks and pet the cat.
3PM: Answer emails and correspondence, put out various fires, and explain to angry Canadians why shipping to Canada is so expensive (I am an honorary Canadian BTW), design and prototype new products, “take care of biz”, make some phone calls to friends. Go feed and pet the cute cat.
7PM: Fold boxes, print custom stickers, cut and sign thank you cards and labels, print shipping labels meticulously and with great love and care, then box up orders from our beloved customers that we love so much. Pet the cat some more. Eat a cookie.
11PM: Go home!
How does Doap help bakers reduce water usage and minimize kitchen waste?
One of the great aspects of Doap is that by using it, you are saving countless sponges / paper towels and also water. Having grown up in a drought in Los Angeles, I am programmed to conserve resources. There are no disposable “single-use” containers in our production process; all our mixing vessels and stir rods are reusable and cleaned by hand. Any excess silicone generated during production is collected and saved to be used at a later time. Plus, our packaging is 100% recyclable.
What led to the final shape and texture of Doap, and how much did research and development influence these decisions? Did the initial design of Doap require several iterations, or was the original concept immediately effective?
While the original design of the Classic Doap bar hasn’t changed since its release, we are introducing some new shapes and designs based on feedback from many of our users across the baking and sustainable homesteading community. We love to hear how people use Doap, what they use it for in their lives, and what they’d like to use it for, too! We encourage our customers to reach out to us with any ideas and improvements.
Most of the original design refinements were decided upon during my time running the Silverlake Baking Co. Making 50 loaves a day will help you figure things out very quickly! Using Doap every day and being able to create prototypes quickly between bakes is perhaps the main reason Doap’s design works so well. There’s just no substitute for experience!
Are there any future plans to expand Doap’s product line to cater to different kitchen or baking tasks?
Yes! We see great potential for different applications of Doap’s unique design throughout the home, and I’m happy to report that we are patent-pending for a variety of uses, not limited to the kitchen/bake space. We’re already sharing prototypes with selected customers and refining designs based on their feedback and will be releasing new products in 2024.
One product we will not be releasing however is the “Electric Doap”. Please stop asking us to make this product. It sounds dangerous.
Could you discuss any collaborations with culinary schools or other institutions that have been instrumental for Doap?
We have an unnatural love for bakers and bakeries. I would like to give a shoutout to two bakeries in particular: Colette Bread and Bakeshop in Atlanta run by Sarah Dodge, and Cocorico Cuisine here in Nashville, run by Elodie Habert. Their initial feedback about the effectiveness of Doap and the immediate implementation of Doap into their professional workflows gave us the green light, so to speak, that our concept had real-world usefulness. Their positive energy and generous spirit was infectious and helped us to understand that the soul of Doap is JOY.
I would also like to acknowledge our Doap Angels, a small group of bakers who were the very first users and advocates of Doap: Lisa @DoughandDirt, Kate @Amore_Fermentum, Akeila @TorontoSourdoughMama, Macey @LittlePearlBreads, Sarah @SarahDoesSourdough, Jen @JenPlusGwen and Kristy @SummitSourdoughYEG. They are a seriously solid crew.
What has the journey been like scaling Doap from a local startup to a brand gaining national attention?
It’s difficult to answer this question succinctly, but I will simply say that my lighthouse has been the “feeling of fulfillment”, and I have often searched for its dim glow on darkened days cloaked heavy in chill, morning mists ( yes I have been re-reading Lord Of The Rings, so what). Put another way, things are a bit crazy and intense, but I feel a sense of excitement and deep satisfaction.
I recently asked my friend Sarah, a successful business owner here in Nashville, what I could expect when running a business of my own, and she replied with a mischievous sparkle in her Irish voice: “There will be tears!”
She wasn’t lying! But not all tears flow from sadness, do they, dear Samwise…
What advice would you offer to entrepreneurs aiming to bridge the gap between niche products and mainstream success?
It’s been my experience that bringing the most authentic version of yourself to the table is a dangerous proposition. We are conditioned by evolutionary forces to conform, taught from early ages to be well-behaved citizens of our village and avoid making waves within it. To incur the ire of our fellow citizens through the adoption of curious behaviors is to invite inquisition, ridicule, and excommunication, which was once surely a death sentence.
People these days are inured to the disingenuousness of profit. They are savvy and know intuitively when they are being manipulated and focus-grouped. What people respond to most of all though, is passion, whether it be a quiet introverted song or a dazzling display of love for a good slice of cheese (me me me). And what is passion, but simply having the courage to show people what lives inside your heart?
My advice to people, all of us artists of life, is to cultivate the courage to walk that treacherous and tender path of self-discovery. It is not easy to face your fears, but the rewards are a life of love and fulfillment, no matter what your pursuits may be.
And if you’re wondering where to start on such a brave quest, ask this question: What things would you have liked to change about yourself in High School, and have you changed those things in your life now? I think the answers will surprise you!
What was the process behind selecting the color range for Doap, and do the colors have specific functions?
One of the guiding principles of my life is to always put the cart before the horse. I don’t think it’s always prudent to be prudent, especially when you factor in our ridiculously short life spans and the proliferation of grand pianos falling daily from the sky. I also think as a rule, people aren’t taught to trust their instincts as often as they should.
So when it came time to decide on colors, I let my instincts guide me to select a palette that I felt covered my important emotional touchstones, and I chose not to heed the accepted wisdom of limiting color choices due to financial considerations.
People have an emotional connection to colors (and music, and pizza toppings) and I wanted to allow them the space to navigate that kind of choice, whether they were aware they were engaging in a deep and meaningful exploration into their unique personalities or not.
Joshua, could you detail the R&D process for Doap and any unexpected findings?
The most unexpected part of Doap has been the overwhelmingly joyful response to its existence. What began as a simple product designed to “clean hands” has revealed itself to be a source of joy for so many people. We often hear about “brand identity” and how products must invent a personality (is this a sexy car, or an adventurous car, or a fun car? etc).
Early on, I had only my own relationship with Doap to go by. I was pleased with how it worked and thought fondly of it, but it wasn’t until Doap was released to the public that I came to understand its identity: JOY. It was letting people connect to a very young and innocent aspect of themselves. There is a secret joy nestled into its utility, a permission to play even while working. Many videos demonstrating Doap capture the offscreen arms of a child reaching out to touch it, to grasp it, and play. What draws them to it? Does the same thing draw us near, as well?
People also understand immediately that Doap is made specifically for them, the baker, the maker, the heart of the home: a helpful ally on their sacred quest to make GOOD FOOD. No pretentious glamour and nothing unnecessary or ornamental. Yet, it is artful, and perhaps it is artful because it is pure and honest.
I also believe that Doap has resonated with so many people because it was created to acknowledge and honor one of the most unglamorous and unheralded parts of baking (and living): the clean-up. Life is one big, beautiful mess. And we can all use a little help.
Is there anything else you would like The Sourdough People community to know about yourself or your product?
Shortly before the pandemic struck, I was performing at a concert in Los Angeles. Onstage were Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, and several other legends whose music I had grown up listening to. I remember that night most of all not because of who was there, but because of a strange feeling I noticed inside me. I wanted to put down my guitar and walk offstage, for I was not enjoying myself: the song was particularly terrible, and I felt a painful disconnect from my essence.
Being a musician is a long-time passion of mine, but it is not my identity. I believe my identity is the spirit that led me to be a career musician, and also the spirit that led me to become a potter, baker, and inventor. We are all of us a collection of curious whims.
If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would be making and selling a silicone scrub bar, I would have laughed and thought that they needed to put down whatever they were smoking. But here we are. Life at its best is a series of memorable moments, and I will never forget this incredible time of releasing Doap into the world.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported Doap, either by purchase or passion. My interactions with you are a source of joy, friendship, and inspiration, and feel as fulfilling to me as any good thing I have ever done, including smacking a fluffy cat butt around. I look forward to our next conversations, friends!
We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Joshua for taking the time to share his story and insights with us. It’s been a true pleasure learning about the journey behind Doap and the passion that drives its ongoing development. Thank you, our dear readers, for joining us in this inspiring conversation. Remember to follow @getdoap on Instagram for more updates, tips, and engaging content from the world of artisan baking.
Additionally, we invite you to share your own baking stories with us. Please use the intake form on our website to submit your stories – we love hearing from our community! Don’t forget to follow The Sourdough People on Instagram and join our email newsletter for more exclusive content, interviews, and baking tips.
Together, let’s continue to celebrate the art and joy of sourdough baking!