How a career shift changed from an engineer to an entrepreneur within a matter of years?
Today, I had a Zoom interview with the lovely, Robin Rogers, owner of Macaron Cafe Ohio, in Fairlawn, Ohio. She sells french cuisine pastries, who certifies all natural ingredients into her products. She has over 50 flavors. It’s great how she transformed herself from being an engineer, building buildings, and having the courage to start up her own brand with the inspirational conversations of her former colleagues, to never get discouraged and to always chase your dreams.
“The Sky is the Limit. We must stand together.”, Robin Rogers said.
I am amazed at how this strong 61 year old African American woman is running her own business and giving back to her community in need. Robin has the passion to create food, to leave people with a smile on their faces and motivational tips for people who are scared to make that sacrifice to chase their dreams.
Take a look at our interview below and a glimpse of her products at www.macaroncafeohio.com. Her Instagram is @macaroncafecov.
Questions and Answers
1. What drove or motivated you to start your own business?
Answer: My passion for creating food and the people around me motivated me to start my business.
2. Why did you choose to start selling baking products? Were you always interested in them?
Answer: I was an engineer, building buildings, then I wanted to become a chef. I enjoyed baking, so I decided to open up my own business, and make everything from scratch. We import our Gelato from Italy for our products. Not many people think to go international.
3. When did you start your brand/open up your shop?
Answer: In January 2020. I had received a retail offer to sell my products at the Summit Mall. One of the representatives tried one of my products, handed me their card, and offered me a retail space, next door to Macy’s, in their mall.
4. What are your store hours?
Answer: M-S 11am-7pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm. Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, our hours from 9am-9pm, our hours may change once the mall gets back up and running.
5. What is your daily motivation to keep going? Because you know we all go through loss, grieve, etc. How do you push yourself to keep going?
Answer: Pray. Prayer Works and allows me to push myself to keep going
6. How is it running a business? Especially during the Pandemic?
Answer: It was hard, especially after losing my sister due to COVID-19, I prayed things will get better. We lost a few sales, but we started Overnight delivery, so that customers can get their orders.
7. I know in bakery, some people would be allergic to certain ingredients that you would put in your products. Have you ever had a situation where someone was allergic to an ingredient in your products, and would communicate with you about that?
Answer: No, because we give out sample products and we tell our customers the ingredients in our products before they try it. Our products are all natural, so no dyes, no preservatives. So, for example, if someone is allergic to lemon, they wouldn’t try it because they would know the ingredients beforehand. We also sell Vegan and Kosher products, which are implemented in our products.
8. Do you have any challenges?
Answer: Everyday is a challenge. The COVID-19 Pandemic and other businesses is a challenge. The COVID-19 put a few things on hold, but I'm still managing to get everything done. I invested $150,000 of my own money for my business and into other locations. When it comes to minorities and black women, some banks will tear you down because they’ll feel as if you're not good enough or they'll judge you based on your skin color. I was on a list with thousands of other people who needed funding, and I wasn’t chosen. Investing in yourself is a challenge, but you have to have faith in God, pray, and trust yourself.
9. What future plans do you have for your business?
Answer: I want to start making sandwiches and press, smoothies, and expanding my business globally. I will be opening another store in Cleveland, Ohio, and one in Las Vegas, Nevada. Soon, we will have a valor machine that will make your own ice cream with gelato inside. It’ll be an injected machine into hot pastry. Many people would say “Is that even possible?”, well “Yes it is!”.
10. Which product is your best seller?
Answer: Our Macaron Cookies are our best seller. I make $900 a day selling those cookies. It literally melts in your mouth, you won’t even need a beverage when you taste our products.
11. What advice would you give to a person considering opening a business?
Answer: Move forward. Technology is changing everyday and is becoming very useful. The Sky is the Limit. Stay focused on your dream and stay motivated. Also, be aware of Insurance policies, manuals, contracts, etc.
12. What steps are you taking to help others within the same field?
Answer: I would motivate and drive them to keep going and to always chase their dreams, especially my young employees, when i first hired them they didn't have any experience but their motivation to learn and their personality got them the job.
13. Do you grow your own plants?
Answer: Yes, I would grow vegetables in my greenhouse in my backyard. Dragon fruit is difficult to find in Ohio, so I would grow it. Ginger, as well. This also makes our products fresh as well, so for example, if someone comes in and says they want a Dragon Fruit macaron, we’ll have that on hand.
14. Since you’ve opened up your store, were you independent or do you hire people to work in your store?
Answer: We have 7 employees currently. We want to hire 15 more people, pastry chefs, etc. for our other upcoming store locations.
15. What activities do you perform to draw people’s attention to your shop/brand?
Answer: Giving back to the community and to people in need.
16. Do you ever think about holding events at your shop?
Answer: We’ve held concerts, an open mic night and other entertainment events at our shop. This week, we will be having a customer appreciation day $1.99 ice cream cones. On July 21,2020, we will have Free Ice Cream Cones. We also have a gift section as well. We love to give back to our community. After the pandemic clears, we’ll want to hold more events at our shop.
17. What was the first pastry you've ever made?
Answer: Creme Brulee and a Souffle. It was bad in the beginning, but everyday is a process and as long as I focused more on its texture, density, and the timing it takes to make the dish. I tried different restaurants attempting to make it, and to me it all tasted the same. So, that’s when I started making macaron and other pastry dishes. I like it to not only look pretty, but delicious.
18. Do you want to branch out and do more?
Answer: Yes, currently I’m working on doing a partnership with a hotel and sell my products there. Also, I want to work in a school, especially with minorities. Growing up it was hard dealing with racial discrimination in an all white school and seeing all of the protesting occurring today, as it was many years ago, encourages me to want to bring more change into this world.
19. What do you think about the upcoming BLCKPRINT app and its overall concept?
Answer: I think what you guys are doing are phenomenal for the community. I wish we had something like this in my generation.