A Birmingham social enterprise started with just £500 has secured a deal with John Lewis after working with the likes of Virgin and Karl Lagerfield.
Miss Macaroon gift bags of French macaroons went on sale this week in the Place to Eat area of the new Birmingham John Lewis after founder Rosie Ginday won over the retailer with her colourful biscuits.
The former patisserie chef backed herself in business when she set up Miss Macaroon in 2011 – now she is on course to turn over £200,000 this year.
She said John Lewis buyers were impressed she offered employment to young people who had slipped out of education and found themselves in the care system or homeless.
She said: “Grand Central is such big news for Birmingham and it’s fantastic that a little social enterprise is now selling its macaroons in John Lewis.
“We had fantastic support from (John Lewis managing director) Andy Street, who has been working with us through his role at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. He definitely opened some doors for us.”
Since kicking off the business using the pastry kitchens at University College Birmingham, Miss Macaroon has grown significantly.
Now, the business has its own dedicated kitchen in Hockley where it hand pipes, bakes and hand fills 5,000 macaroons every day.
All of its products are gluten free and, over the course of the year, there will be up to 40 flavours, with baileys and nutmeg to be introduced in time for Christmas.
In addition to the John Lewis deal, Miss Macaroon has also secured a number of high profile clients thanks to its ability to pantone match colours and personalise the macaroons with logos. Virgin and designer Karl Lagerfield have already taken advantage of this unique service.
“Boosting sales means I can extend our ‘Macaroons that Make a Difference’ programme, which is a four-week training course on basic pastry production, employability skills and social development,” Ms Ginday added.
“Young, long-term unemployed people are supported to create a five-year plan of manageable goals that will help them gain employment. This is followed by three months of one-to-one mentoring and work experience where participants can earn interviews and gain paid employment with my business.
“Twenty people have already progressed through our scheme and – for the first time ever – I’ve been able to take on an apprentice to work with us. I’m hoping that the more we grow, the more opportunities I will have to extend this programme.”
Paul Brown, board member of the Black Country LEP, worked with Ms Ginday through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme run by Aston Business School.
“Social Enterprises add tremendous value to the region’s economy and ‘Miss Macaroon’ is an example of a real entrepreneurial spirit that produces first class products. If my help provided an introduction to John Lewis, and importantly they like her products, then that’s great to hear,” he said.