Better known as ‘Miss Macaroon’, entrepreneur Rosie Ginday has carved out an interesting niche serving the likes of Ted Baker and EE with macaroons crafted by young offenders and care leavers. Today she discusses her journey from pop-up vegan café in Taiwan to what is becoming her very own macaroon empire back here in the UK.
I’d had this idea of providing work for unemployed young people through some kind of community friendly business since I was about 16, but things really started to come together after uni. Studying fine art at Leeds had definitely given me an eye for beautiful things, but after uni I decided I wanted to do something a bit different. I went off to teach English in Taiwan for a year and half. During my time living in the old capital, Tainan, I noticed a gap in the market. The ex-pat community were in need of somewhere they could congregate which served healthy food. So, a friend and I pooled together our wages and opened up a pop-up vegan and vegetarian restaurant and art space. It was a lot of fun and we were popular but sadly had to close when I decided to return home to the UK. But this first foray into running my own eatery had given me a taste of what lay ahead and I came home full of confidence to set up my new project – Miss Macaroon. From quite early on I knew that this was what I had to be doing.
For me it was really important to train properly and build my skills so that the product could become the best it could be. I went to catering college for a year then worked in a Michelin starred restaurant for a year before working at four-star hotel while developing the idea for Miss Macaroon.
I started Miss Macaroon in 2011 with just £500 of personal funds. I was lucky enough to have free access to the kitchens at University College Birmingham which was crucial as money was tight back then! One of the daunting bits was getting through the paperwork to get set up as a business, but help is out there. For us, it came in the shape of the iSE (Institute of Social Entrepreneurs) who were really helpful in those early stages.
One thing I always had from the start was belief in our product. I worked and reworked the recipe to get the characteristic egg shell crack, soft texture and our special flavours that pack a punch. We’re the only patisserie in the world to be able to Pantone match macaroons to any colour within a 2-4% variance. We use quite a complicated algorithm based on my fine art background and understanding of colour theory to match to large corporates brand colours.
We had some grants of around £10,000 in year two, three and four to fund pilot training programmes and to move into our own kitchen premises. The business grew organically as we’re a cash-rich profitable business focussed on process improvements and efficiency, until March 2016 when we embarked upon our first proper round of investment. We managed to raise £120k via a BCRS (loan) and Unltd’s Big Venture challenge (competition where they match fund the investment) to set up our Miss Macaroon shops. The original deal fell through though, which was far from ideal but luckily I was supported by the Entrepreneurial Spark programme powered by Natwest at the time and my enabler there, James, was great at helping me find the right investors. This was one of the most stressful periods we’ve had but with some help we made it through!
Before long we were producing beautiful bespoke corporate gifts for the likes of Orange, EE, Ted Baker and Karl Lagerfeld. Most recently however we opened our very first retail store – the Miss Macaroon prosecco and macaroon bar in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade. This is already doing well and we have our sights on more outlets, starting with Leeds hopefully in the very near future – so there are some very exciting times ahead so watch this space!
Rosie Ginday founded Miss Macaroon to combine her passion for beautiful hand-crafted food and her desire to help disadvantaged young adults in her local area of Birmingham. The business helps prepare young Care leavers, offenders and ex-offenders to realise their ambitions to train as chefs. Rosie has won a number of awards including the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Midlands award and has recently appeared alongside her mentor (TV Chef) Glynn Purnell on NatWest’s new Money Bite show. Head to the Money Bite page and click ‘Enterprising Britain’ to find out more about her story.