Creative Kamloops macaron maker expanding to meet demand
A Kamloops woman who launched a small business less than a year ago is struggling to keep up with demand for her product.
Ashley Funk is the owner, and so far, the sole operator at Mary Ann’s Macarons, a mobile business devoted to the creation of perfect, uniquely flavoured and colourful macarons.
“I give people an experience and connect with people through flavours,” she said. “I love what I do. A lot of my flavours remind people of certain things and childhood memories.”
A sweet treat that originated in France, a macaron is a meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar and almond meal. Funk takes creative new twists on the classic treat, offering up flavours like birthday cake and root beer. It took a lot of work for her to perfect her macarons and get a business going.
“At first I spent every single day for a year trying different recipes or studying online,” Funk said. “The macaron is known to be difficult to make, there are a lot of steps. It was a struggle in the beginning to get the technique that works. I have everything down to a science now.”
While the shell of the macaron is an important component, most of the flavour comes from the filling. Funk makes all components from scratch.
“You fill the shells with buttercream or ganache or jams,” she said. “I don’t think people understand how long the process takes. For me to make 60 macarons takes three to four hours.”
With a background in hospitality, working in restaurants and baking, Funk decided to combine her talents after losing a job in Jasper when COVID hit. She moved to Kamloops to be close to her mom, and then rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
“I officially launched last May and the process to get licenses and permits was a big challenge because my product has egg in it,” she said. “Being a first time business owner is hard, there is a lot of overhead. I did the self-employment program through Community Futures which opened up my network, orders have been steadily increasing since.”
Funk named the business after two important women in her life.
“Mary was my grandma’s name and she passed away,” she said. “She is where I got my love of baking from. She always had counters full of treats and the secret ingredient was always love. Anne is my mom’s middle name.”
Funk is currently renting a shared kitchen space at the Commodore Lounge.
“I am in the kitchen four to five days a week, I am a one woman show,” she said. “It takes quite a while to make the amount I need to keep up with orders.”
Funk launched her professional website a couple of weeks ago and started offering one-on-one classes to teach others the art of perfecting the macaron.
She is focussed on finding her own kitchen space and considering a storefront location. She wants to expand to bring custom macarons to weddings and events.
“I am starting to make partnerships with local businesses and am looking for more,” she said. “I will have to hire staff because by March I’ll be overwhelmed.”
When asked why the business is expanding so quickly, Funk said that just like her late Grandma Mary, she puts love into her baking and customers can taste it.
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