Building a business is tough work. Just the thought of investing your blood, sweat, and tears along with countless hours and sleepless nights, without any guarantee of success, is daunting. It’s hard to stay optimistic, creatively sharp, engaged in the process, and to ultimately press on no matter the number of failed attempts.
So it is the same with baking macarons. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Trust us or Google it, just know it’s very difficult.
Now get this, 20-year-old Xanna is building a business by baking macarons (what?!).
Xanna’s first time baking macarons was a short 3 years ago in her family’s mountain house with no grocery stores in a 30 minute vicinity. She had first seen the French pastries as Blair Waldorf’s obsession in Gossip Girl, and subsequently became obsessed with them herself when she discovered them at a French bakery down the street from her work. On vacation, and hours away from that bakery, Xanna decided to satisfy her craving by baking her own macarons. Her first batch turned out to be over a six hour process that included substituting ingredients to make do and questioning whether the egg whites really needed to be room temperature. Needless to say, they were not the best macarons.
She kept baking them for fun, though, and when she got back to Atlanta, she would test out batches on the baristas at her favorite coffee shop, giving them unique flavors like Earl Grey, Green Tea Lemon, and Espresso Dark Chocolate.
“I could never pick just one flavor,” Xanna laughed. “And those Octane boys were troopers.”
About a year ago, Xanna began to receive requests for macarons at events and weddings, as well as orders from local coffee shops. She had just started a job as a barista at Mae’s Bakery, and when the manager found out her skills and side business, she graciously let Xanna use their commercial kitchen for baking. Since then XK Macarons has grown exponentially, and Xanna has transitioned from driving small orders all over the city to only baking for customers buying wholesale or large orders (6 dozen+).
Much of this growth and focus Xanna attributes to attending the Plywood Retreat last fall, and the guidance she received from other local entrepreneurs like Eryn Erikson and Jeff Shinabarger. The first six months of starting her business were nonstop with not a lot of help or planning. Through her social media internship with So Worth Loving, Xanna became friends with Eryn, who designed her XK logo and introduced her to Jeff. Even though Xanna originally did not believe it wise to take three days off from her baking to go on a retreat, it became a turning point for her business. She began to function from a place of rest, and was able to strategically plan for XK Macarons’ future.
At her first pop-up at Root City Market this past December, Xanna sold out of the 500 macarons brought in only 3 hours. This was a wake-up call to her as it showed her the value of her product. She then transitioned over to only wholesale and larger orders, and the coffee shops she partners with tripled their orders when they heard people were coming to their shops to taste XK Macarons. This is just the beginning for Xanna as she continues to innovate and grow her business.
Though Xanna just stepped into this twenties decade, her advice is substantial and practical, “Don’t be afraid to talk to people,” she said. “Talking to people will help you find out who you are.”
Xanna, who does not have a college degree, believes that there are many paths to success and finding out who you are. In her business, she constantly steps out of her box to speak to people she does not know, and often they turn out to be the exact people she needed to connect with at the time.
In the future, Xanna dreams of having a traveling storefront (maybe an Airstream?), but for now Xanna can be found in the following Atlanta locations regularly:
- Mae’s Bakery
- Land of 1000 Hills Coffee
- Chattahoochee Coffee Company
- Octane Coffee (Buckhead and Westside locations)
- Taproom Coffee
Visit the XK Macarons booth at Root City Market on June 14, 2014!
Photo credit: Morgan Blake
Xanna | Website
Owner & Chief Baker, XK Macarons • 20 • Atlanta, GA