On the up · 22 February 2016

How one social enterprise owner is changing the world a single macaroon at a time

The business is tapping into the demand for macaroons, but with a unique corporate twist
The business is tapping into the demand for macaroons, but with a unique corporate twist

With only £500 in startup capital, but invaluable access to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator programme, Rosie Ginday’s social enterprise has been able to attract the attention of high-profile names from Adidas to Goldman Sachs.

Ginday created Miss Macaroon five years ago, and was planning to celebrate the company’s anniversary with a macaroon birthday cake when she spoke to Business Advice. Her company is the only patisserie in the world able to match macaroons to a Panatone shade with a variance of under four per cent, but is also committed to making a difference to the lives of young people, and its founder is as proud of its mission as she is of the product quality.

“Miss Macaroon is passionate about providing only the very best quality, hand-crafted, premium macaroons,” she told Business Advice. The sweet treats are sold directly to customers ­– where they are particularly popular the gift market – as well as in branded forms to other businesses for PR and marketing events.

The products have been popular amongst corporate clients including Santander, Experian and ITV due to the colour matching service Ginday can provide, and the skilled patisserie chefs that the company trains to expertly recreate corporate logos on the top of the delicate pastries.

And behind the skilled designs the staff are able to produce is an equally impressive social enterprise mission. Ginday explained: “At Miss Macaroon, indulgence is also a virtue as our social enterprise activities are supported through every macaroon we sell.

“We provide employment and training programmes aimed at unemployed youngsters who may have slipped through the education system, are care leavers or have been homeless. This adds an entirely new and unique flavour to our macaroons, and one that can truly be savoured and enjoyed beyond the mere eating of the product itself.”

Miss Macaroon Team July 2015 copyThe company provides training, work experience and ongoing mentoring to the young people who take part in the “Macaroons that Make A Difference” (MacsMAD) programme. Ginday explained that the benefits to those involved go beyond the workplace: “As well as career opportunities, the setting and achieving of small goals increases their self-belief and ensures that the young people we work with can build a future for themselves.”

For her, seeing young people flourish in what is a “highly competitive industry” and work confidently and diligently in the pressurised environment of a professional kitchen is the most rewarding thing about running Miss Macaroon.

“For me, the biggest single achievement has been employing one of my trainees who never worked in a kitchen before. He competes alongside professionals as a result of the structured work based training and being pushed to perform to our quality, wastage and efficiency standards, and because he believes in himself and pushes himself to be the best he is succeeding.”

Miss Macaroon’s founder believes that personally being surrounded by the right people has also been key to her enterprise’s success. “The support I received from mentors, business advisors and the staff at University College Birmingham, where I trained to be a chef, was invaluable when I was getting started,” she explained, and emphasised the support that she has received as her company has grown with the help of the Entrepreneurial Spark programme.

In the early days of the business, when Ginday was working part time on the idea while also working as a professional pastry chef, instructors at her alma mater gave Ginday free reign of the college kitchens on her days off so that she could produce the quantity of macaroons she wanted to. Throughout her first year of training, the college also allowed her to use the same facilities to conduct the pilot versions of those training programmes which are key to the company’s social enterprise purpose.

Despite all this support, there have been challenges to overcome as Gindlay took her ideas from concept to execution. The steepest part of the learning curve came when she had to let go of her vision of employing only MacsMad graduates. “I realised that the trainees needed more structure and role model support to succeed, but coming to accept that was horrible because I felt like I had failed and was questioning the validity of the whole concept.”

It is Ginday’s passion for her business and its cause which she believes has allowed her to overcome these struggles. She said: “My advice for others starting out is that you need passion to get through the nos, setbacks and terrifying moments of self-doubt. Anita Roddick is my business hero because she really redefined business by using it as an outlet for social enterprise activism.

“One of her quotes particularly resonates with me: ‘An entrepreneur is very enthusiastic and dances to a different drum beat, but never considers success as something which equates to personal wealth.’” With plans to extend Miss Macaroon’s reach worldwide and create a “retail empire” for the brand, Ginday’s mission seems certain to be fulfilled soon.

If this interview has satisfied your sweet craving but left you lusting after a savoury companion, then have a look at our feature on gourmet pork crackling brand The Snaffling Pig Co.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

HR