Thursday, February 2, 2012
Is it February?
Oh man, time flies when there's too much going on!
December is a complete blur to me. With the Union Square Holiday market, all the Christmas orders, all the online sales, and trying to shop for presents for the family...wow, I can't believe we survived. We actually made like...over 20,000 macarons in December alone. And, I think we bought some of the best Christmas gifts we have ever gifted. Simon and I were so exhausted that on Christmas day, we both took 3-4 naps. We were really only up for meals, and then it was nap time. It felt amazing to just be couch potatoes.
I thought January would be a whole lot of trying to not move as we let our bodies slowly recover, but it was time to finally start dealing with that thing...you know...the whole...wedding. Everyone had been hounding me on how I wasn't getting things done on time (who sets those wedding deadlines anyway?) so Simon and I delegated responsibilities and plowed through it in 3 weeks. We're like 90% done with our planning and we've got a handful of stuff to still do...like...decide what we're going to order for room service once we're no longer dieting.
I took a part time job filling in at a friend's restaurant for just January. Simon's sister had a beautiful baby girl. I wrote a list of like 10 new flavors I want to test out and we got through testing about half of them (some are real flops though). For a month that we expected to be very quiet, it really wasn't that quiet at all. I suppose it's like the weekend for people with regular jobs. I always think of the weekend as days off, but a lot of things that you had been pushing off during the week gets accomplished on weekends, like laundry, or grocery shopping, or seeing your family. It's not time off as in, you can just sit and watch TV all day, it's just time you delegate to something else. So, our January got mostly delegated to catching up on our personal lives since June-December was mostly about our pastry lives.
Now that we're hunkering back into Macaron Parlour mode (we just started making heart shaped macarons for V-day!), it's time to reflect on our holiday season. It was very interesting being at Union Square. These markets are really the first time we've done an event for many consecutive days, so we were able to really get to know people and see what it would be like if we ever opened a storefront. We made many new friends and fans, and we loved chatting with people. We were honored to be the first macarons for many and to provide many macaron gift boxes for the holiday season. We were thrilled at how many people purchased macarons and returned only a few minutes later to tell us how much they love our stuff. Moments like that made it worth having 16 hour days that started with early morning deliveries, then working at the booth, then going to the kitchen for production.
We got a lot of really good feedback - a lot of really lovely words and a few comments on how we can improve. For example, the weather was pretty warm for a December, but there was still a day or two where it was colder outside than in our freezers and after being told that the macarons were hard, we advised everyone to warm up their little macaron before eating it for optimal results.
We're constantly a work in progress. We have so many quirks from being such a small business. All of our macarons are piped by hand and even though we have a standard size, sometimes they end up a little smaller, sometimes a little bigger (good news: if we have a small guy, we usually try to give two small macarons for the price of 1). We're a two person company, so there are some things that I'm sure bigger companies can do that we can't. We're still at the point where 95% of the macarons you get from us are piped by Simon or me (the other 5% is for when we are able to recruit some help - either my sisters or some of my former coworkers). I am the only person who manages the ovens when it comes to baking, so I put each tray in and take each tray out. Simon washes all of our dishes. We are the entire business and it is deeply personal to us.
A French guy once said to Simon that we are better than any macaron shop he has ever been to in France, even the most famous names. Simon asked him why. The answer: You'll never go to any of those shops and get a smile like he did at our stand, or see someone as nice or as friendly as Simon is. That really warmed up my heart. I love the idea that even though this guy liked our macarons, the real memory that he drew from the whole experience is the good time he had chatting with us.
We really pride ourselves on having great conversations with our customers. Simon is the best macaron salesperson you could ever come across because he is really funny, he is sharp, and he is super helpful. I'm kind of awkward, but I like giving out free macarons to make up for that fact because I want you to have a good day and I make terrible jokes that no one gets, so I have to distract you from the long awkward pause afterward.
We've been to almost all of the shops that offer macarons in NY and I only remember having a good conversation at one of them. The others have just treated us like a transaction. We believe that when it comes to food, there is something very personal about it! I had a very racist comment said to me at a famous French shop in NY. I was so humiliated, upset, and shocked, and the woman refused to apologize when I called her out on it so I vowed to never go back. There are places that I go to that I know doesn't have the best food, but I just love the staff so much that I keep going. Sometimes, the experience is just as important as the food. I hope people come to us because they like the product, and they keep coming back because they like us, too.
I hope the next time you see us at a market or fair, you come by to say hi. I also hope you're lucky enough to avoid one of my awkward jokes.