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Something a little different this month for our featured customer. Pascal Menezes from The Red Balloon Candy Artisian - master candy craftsman, reveals a little about how he became a "candy artisan". The sweet making process in this traditional candy making business is truly fascinating and the sweets they hand craft clearly evoke shear joy and happiness.
1. How did your sweets/business journey begin?
I managed to be in the right place at the right time as I visited a Melbourne based candy company back in 2001. I was offered a job on the spot and fell in love with the process of making something with your hands that made people happy. Alchemy in its finest form. Once I started, I built my pathway into a small business within 5 years.
2. What has starting your own business meant for you?
Being accountable and owning your word. Running a small business is not just about making sweet treats. It’s a tough ride, one that feels like you’re blindfolded and have no idea where you’re going in the first few years.
After 12 years in business, I see that making your customer and clients happy is imperative to sustain a business in these times. Keep it small, do what you do best and make people happy and I feel like we are on the right path. Taking care of your staff is just as important as any other business relationship too.
3. What have been/are the biggest challenges you face(d) in regard to starting/building/maintaining your business?
Capital. Money makes the world go round and if you don’t have it, then making your vision is going to be tricky. I stayed clear of banks and borrowed from family and still keep this philosophy. I know I could grow the business rapidly if I had money I didn’t own, but personally I see rapid growth as a quick dive into rapid decline if control is lost. We make a hand crafted product that relies on skilled ‘Candy Artisans’ to produce. These skills can’t be learnt at a trade, nor at a school, so investing time and knowledge into our staff is crucial to sustain a future for a niche business like our own.
4. What do you feel are the benefits of using edible images?
Edible Image Supplies are the finest icing sheets we’ve used and will continue to use. We have tried 3 other companies, but nothing has come close to getting the clarity and strong paper that is needed for our products.
We have always used high quality materials and ingredients in our confectionery and ‘Edible Image Supplies’ reflect that ethos we have.
5. What is your favourite type of treat/design to create?
This changes as we do create many new products each year. Our Vegan Jellies have been the most successful and wanted product. Creating a brand new recipe after spending 2 - 3 weeks testing the right ratios and ingredients was a real challenge, but once we nailed the recipe we knew that it was only a matter of time before people would be wanting more. Also shifting our business to being 100% Vegan was a decision we made 4 years ago. Something I didn’t know would become a movement, but a change I thought was needed in the industry.
6. What is the current trend you’re seeing in edible images?
Printa Pops. We see that people are placing many orders for custom ‘Selfie Pops’ as we infuse edible images inside lollipops. Fun for young kids and old ones too.
7. What is the funniest/most unusual creation you’ve been asked to make?
Working with MONA (Museum of Old & New Art - Hobart, Tasmania) was quite unusual. A career highlight as I personally grew up in Hobart, so understanding our quirky nature was going to fit well with their twisted ways was always going to be fun. We made edible spheres hand blown from candy, ever so delicately placed on tables as tap dancers paraded along and stomped them into tiny broken bits. An addition to the dessert menu of course.
8. Do you have any tips you can share when either printing or applying edible images?
You get what you pay for. I’ve seen it first hand and thats why we stick with ‘Edible Image Supplies’
Keep your printer in use at least once a week. Clean your printer on monthly basis.
9. What is your career highlight to date?
We’ve been lucky to have 12 years in business. That’s a career highlight. But getting our first overseas venture in Tokyo 2010 is one thats hard to beat. Seeing my original vision of one day opening a store overseas become a reality. Not short of its ups and downs though.