This month Mary Doyle from Petite Treats joins us and shares her thoughts and experiences on being the creative mind behind Petite Treats in Ireland. I was lucky to meet Mary while she was enrolled in Vegan Boot Camp
in New York. I think the words "you go girl!" apply here.
Mattie: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into vegan baking.
Mary: Baking has been my passion for several years. I was made redundant in 2009 from my teaching job and this spurred me to follow my dreams. I traveled to NYC to attend ‘Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive’ with Fran Costigan at the ‘Natural Gourmet Institute’. I returned later that year to New York to work as Fran’s intern and take more classes. This was an amazing experience and I knew I just ‘had’ to set up something at home in Ireland and Petite Treats was born!
Mattie: Please tell us about Petite Treats. What was your primary motivation and influence for starting it?
Mary: I have been baking for friends and family events for several years- I would find any excuse to bake goodies- especially for themed events! Many non – vegans are wary of the term ‘vegan’ and I wanted to try to dispel some common misconceptions about vegan baking. My products are decadent, visually appealing and delicious and you don’t have to sacrifice anything. I knew that if people just tasted my treats that it would not matter whether they were vegan or not.
Mattie: What is your favorite product that Petite Treats sells? Why?
Mary: HMMM that is a difficult question! I ADORE my ‘Belgian Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons’ – they have their own fan club by now!
Mattie: What is your favorite part of owning and operating a vegan business?
Mary: I love being my own boss. I love being able to provide a service for parents of children with allergies who might not be able to have a treat otherwise. Attention to detail is very important to me and I like being in charge of every aspect from the preparation, baking, frosting, decorating, packaging and delivery! As many of my customers are not vegan, I am thrilled that they have chosen my products- they just love how they taste which is the best compliment!
Mattie: Did you have prior experience before starting Petite Treats? If so, what kind of experience? If not, what did you do to acquire the knowledge you needed to succeed?
Mary: I traveled to NYC to attend ‘Vegan Baking Boot Camp Intensive’ with Fran Costigan and also worked as her intern where I learned SO much. My family and friends have been willing ‘guinea pigs’ for a long time now and they have given me honest feedback while I tested and honed my recipes to perfection. I have also taken a number of Sugarcraft classes to learn professional decorating techniques. I think that it is important to keep learning as the business grows.
Mattie: What was the most valuable resource that helped you in starting your bakery?
Mary: I would have to say that the encouragement and support that I have gotten from my husband, family and friends has been the most valuable resource. They have helped me to overcome the many fears and uncertainties that come with starting a new business.
Mattie: What was the hardest part of starting your bakery?
Mary: My husband would probably say that the hardest part was all of my ‘blind taste tests’ when I was trying to perfect my recipes! Not having a set wage coming in every week is a little scary after having a stable job as a teacher.
Mattie: If you had the choice to start your business all over again, what would you do differently and why?
Mary: I would hire someone else to do all of the paperwork and web design... I just want to bake!
Mattie: What advice would you give people who are thinking of starting their own business that caters to vegans and vegetarians?
Mary: I think that if you have an excellent product people will buy it whether or not they are vegan themselves. It is important to market your product towards everyone and not just vegans.
Mattie: How much time did it take for your business to get from the idea stage to being open for business?
Mary: Having my own vegan baking business was a dream for a few years and I spent a year preparing before being open for business.
Mattie: What is your favorite baking ingredient right now? Why?
Mary: I cannot live without Neilsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract. I am also experimenting with guar gum and agave nectar to create a new frosting!
Mattie: What kind of changes would you like to see in the current vegan baking world?
Mary: I would like to see vegan bakers attempt to attract non vegan customers as well as vegan. People can be wary of the term ‘vegan’ and unaware that a good vegan product can be every bit as decadent, delicious and creatively decorated (as a traditional one).
Mattie: How can we find out more about Petite Treats?
Mattie: Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this interview Mary!