We had the good fortune of connecting with Maricel Cephus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maricel, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
French macarons take determination and patience to make. They are one of the most challenging cookies to tackle in the baking world. Everything affects the success of each batch. This includes the environment, oven air flow, timing and ingredients. Vegan macarons are even tougher and that is why they are rare to find.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Finally Vegan Macarons is the very first all vegan macaron bakery in Houston. Our macarons are often esteemed to be just as good, if not better, than a regular macaron. Numerous customers rave about the texture and flavor of our macarons. When I decided to sell French macarons, I wanted them not only to be for vegans/plant based eaters, but for everyone! My goal was to make macarons that were so tasty that the vegan aspect was a bonus. I also love being creative and offering out of the box flavors that are unique and fun. My love for food gives me so much inspiration. I feel like my background of having my foodie page, @beingvwithmc, has influenced my passion for different flavors, presentation and textures that are often represented in my macarons.
I feel like diversifying my availability has helped a lot in marketing my business. In addition to offering delivery throughout Houston, I participate in various markets to help spread awareness of my brand. Recently, I have also partnered with other businesses to do pop ups which has helped my business make a reputable presence in those communities.
Also, social media promotion has been a top contributor to help us grow. Being consistent and engaging on our content has really spread awareness of my brand.
In addition, I never stop talking about my brand. Every chance I get, if I have extra macarons on hand, I’ll drop them off to fellow vegan businesses and introduce myself. This has resulted in new clients and partnerships. I’ll also give out free samples to other brands I do business with. The time and investment in doing personal networking has opened up so many opportunities.
It has not been easy in terms of time and commitment and trying to balance everything with the business. But I feel like I am able to accomplish what I have done from being as organized as possible. I live by Google sheets and my calendar! Also, I have learned that being generous with your time and products pays off. I usually never turn down partnerships or opportunities, even if it involves giving away free product. That little investment is always returned and then some.
Along the way, I’ve learned the best practices of scheduling events to ensure the most sales. This is from studying how and when people spend their money. From night events, to early markets, from breweries to coffee shops, people have certain spending habits that determine if they will buy my product. I’ve been able to learn from every event and see which ones are most beneficial for my brand. In the beginning, I would just sign up for everything. Now, I am able to evaluate each event and look at the numbers to see why they might or might not have been so profitable. This helps me determine what events I want to get involved with now to make sure I am not wasting my time or money.
I want the world to know that I truly put my heart and soul into my brand. Every detail of my brand is a direct result of my passion for the products I create. I also never had formal training and am self taught. I have never worked in food business or hospitality. But my determination and faith in myself has helped me to become a business owner for French macarons! It blows my mind every time I think about it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first on our itinerary would be my favorite coffee shops. I feel like Houston has a great coffee shop scene in every neighborhood. Here’s my list: 1. Siphon
5. Southside Espresso
After coffee, I would take them to my favorite foodie spots:
1. Houston Sauce Co
3. The Vegan Sushi Spot
4. Earthy Goodness Vegan Ice Cream
5. Chef Kenny’s Vegan Asian Cuisine
Experiences to show would be:
1. Murals in Eado
3. Biking in Buffalo Bayou Park
4. Exhibits in Museum of Fine Art
5. Galleria Mall
6. Downtown Tunnels
7. Local Markets
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shoutout my two amazing daughters, Nola and Onesti. They are the ones who pushed me not to give up in starting this business. When I first started to make macarons, I had so many failed batches. Day after day, hour after hour, the macarons did not come out successfully and it was very discouraging. But my girls told me to keep trying and motivated me every time I felt like throwing in the towel.