How This Couple Left France To Build Their "American Dream:" A Six-Figure Online French Bakery

Anthony Rosemond
Founder, Pastreez
$25K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
2
Employees
Pastreez
from Phelan, CA, USA
started April 2017
$25,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
2
Employees
1.03M
alexa rank
112K
followers
1K
subs
market size
$9.57B
starting costs
$18K
gross margin
90%
time to build
270 days
growth channels
Organic social media
best tools
YouTube, Instagram, Facebook
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
40 Pros & Cons
tips
2 Tips
Discover what tools Anthony reccommends to grow your business!
platform
email
shipping
customer service
reviews
social media
Discover what books Anthony reccommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Bonjour! My name is Anthony Rosemond. I'm a Parisian chef & founder of Pastreez, an online French bakery.

We handcraft macarons and crêpes that ship fresh in the entire United States.

We’ve sold over 1 million macarons to this date, with only a team of two.

pastreez

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Pastreez is a husband and wife business. We left everything in France to build Pastreez in the United States a few years ago.

We always thought to be independent and run our own business. Back when I was an engineer and my wife a Human Resource Director, we started to think about what could be a business that suited us.

I love marketing, and my wife is fond of baking authentic French pastries. We wanted to make sure we had 100% of the skills needed to run this business.

This allows us to move faster and decide quickly.

Since we always had this “American dream,” we mixed the US with our online French bakery project. Pastreez was born!

We knew this was the right idea to work on because each of us is passionate about what we do. I always thought if I had to build my own business, it better be into something you like to do, right?

Focusing on what you like to do the most will make a sustainable business. Think about it: You’ll spend weeks, months, and years on a project. If you don’t like your everyday job, your motivation over time won’t be there.

And sometimes, passion is what makes the difference between you and your competitors!

I can tell because I made this mistake with my previous business. It was a fun iOS app related to pictures. I was excited about the idea.

But the thing is, on a personal level, I don’t like sharing pictures about myself. And I’m not an app developer either.

So I lost $10,000 in the app development, and I quickly lost motivation for this project because I wasn’t rooted in it, and I didn’t have the skills to develop it.

With Pastreez, I learned the lesson. Everything about marketing and building a brand is what I love doing daily. And teaming up with my wife and her incredible vision for authentic macarons and other French pastries made this journey a success.

The most important thing is to adapt. Don’t be too narrow with “what you think will work.” Once you confront your idea to the world, listen to your early customers to improve your offer.

Back in January 2017, we knew the rough idea of Pastreez, but we needed to confront the market and meet people. We were still in Paris (France) at the time!

I strongly recommend doing a quick market study BEFORE stepping into the project. Nothing too fancy! For example, use the SEMRush tool. It’s an SEO tool that gets analytics on search queries on Google.

It is a gold mine. I was able to find out easily if there was a market for macarons online in the US. For instance, buying intent queries like macarons near me or buying macarons had a lot of volumes.

In addition, I was able to check on competitors and dig into what they offer. There were a few, which is good because it proves there is a market. It also helps to start a blog answering real customers' questions, like what do macarons taste like, or the best macarons study in the US.

But I also found out that none had our authenticity twist: Real French macarons, handcrafted by real French chefs trained at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

At this point, Pastreez was on paper. So we packed and flew from Paris to California two weeks later!

Take us through the process of designing your first product.

Pastreez was very promising from France, but we had to validate the idea in the US and turn it into a business.

Once in California, we spent a few days on the Meetup app trying to find groups of people ready to try our French pastries for free!

I knew we needed to focus on ONE single product at first, what we called the most valuable product (MVP). We baked a few authentic French pastries like macarons, crêpes, madeleines, financiers, and many more.

At every single meeting, the macarons were the most popular. So we had our MVP!

At this point, we had to find a way to bake those from - the Airbnb we were renting. And macarons are very delicate to make: You need the right oven, the right temperature, etc.

Coming from France there was a whole new culture/language that we needed to adapt to. Tough times! I don’t even talk about the Visa process (stressful and uncertain).

Then, we attended three farmers' markets as a macaron vendor to confront the idea. Were customers ready to order macarons? For how much? What would be their favorite flavors? This step was very helpful in answering all these questions.

pastreez

pastreez

We even got great feedback for the upcoming website, like the ability to pick only your macaron flavors on the menu instead of an assortment.

We kept the farmers' markets as a sales channel and in September 2017, launched our macaron delivery website: Pastreez.

I always like to try at a small scale first. That is why I used Shopify and designed the website myself. The main functions are here: Product page, collection page, cart, checkout, and payment.

Along the way, once I got customers' feedback to improve our website, I hired developers for specific tasks. Shopify is also great for add-ons: Lots of apps that can help you grow.

An example is Klaviyo or Attentive, which helps you put in place a pop-up for a welcome offer. It’s a win-win: The customer gets 7 macarons free on their first order, and we can send him/her newsletters with new macaron flavors and more!

Describe the process of launching the business.

I know in the startup world, there are lots of “hacks” and tips to create a “big launch.” We’re not in the startup world. We’re in the small business world. We take step by step to build a sustainable business that brings a high-profit margin from day one.

Online is also very different from selling physically. Especially for food. So the biggest challenge was to ship macarons.

Something that helps: Order from competitors that have been in the game for a while. They most likely already figured it out. Then take this solution and upgrade it! That’s what we did to have our macarons shipped to the entire United States.

Once the website was built, of course, zero online customers. That is why we kept farmers' markets for a few months, to be able to make a living out of it and also to get feedback for the website.

Our strategy was to grow organically on Google. No paid ads in the beginning. I knew that there was room for specific keywords according to my research of “macarons near me” and other buying intent keywords.

Plus, competitors weren’t too much into SEO. The launch was in September 2017, and we started to rank right on time for the Christmas macarons rush of 2017. Our first rush!

On the financial side, it was not expensive per se. On the business part, a small oven, ingredients to start, a few fees for farmers' markets, a photographer for product pictures, and Shopify fees for the website. Altogether probably close to $3,000.

But remember, we came from Paris, France. It was like starting from scratch. So there was the rent, a car to buy, etc.

I’m personally not a fan of taking debts. Have a project, work and save and then start your project.

So I worked as an engineer all over the world (the Caribbean, Indian ocean area, Barcelona, and Paris) to save money for my future business.

I didn’t know what or when, but I knew I’d stay only a couple of years at this position and then try something at some point.

So we bootstrapped everything from day one. I’d say we had enough savings to live two years without working and earning any money.

We worked hard to get these savings, and we were focused to use them to best help Pastreez.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

The very first focus since the beginning is Search Engine Optimization. Your customers NEED to find you on Google ASAP.

This strategy is organic and takes time, but it pays off if done correctly.

For example, focus on what keywords your customers would type to find you. For Pastreez, if people were searching for macarons near me, it means they were interested to purchase.

Another variation would be “buy macarons”, or “macarons delivered”. And it works for any business: “Buy tires”, “flowers near me”, etc.

Then use an SEO tool to search who ranks best for it, and try to build better pages. Each page would target each keyword.

Too many times I see passionate people that have great business ideas but are afraid of taking the next step. If you put enough heart into it, you WILL succeed.

My website was just launched. To go from ZERO to something, SEO is always a great bet.

Then, I need to get the word out online. So I reached out to related blogs and sent them free macarons, to get fair reviews and mentions in blog posts.

With this technique, sales went from $0 in September 2017 to $6,500 in December 2017. Nice for 3 months in business!

SEO is your organic base to bring new customers in.

Once you have your SEO base going, getting an email partner such as Klaviyo is mandatory. You need to build a relationship with your current customers, even if it’s just a dozen of them at the beginning.

Through email, you’ll be able to ask for feedback. For example, we love to ask our customers what flavors they’d like to see as mother’s day macarons or Valentine’s macarons or even vote for the upcoming Black Friday offer.

pastreez

pastreez

This strategy is very effective to get your list to engage with your business. It creates proximity and shows that you care about them.

We also send SMS, it’s a prominent new marketing tool. See below: High conversion rate in both mobile and desktop. “SMS” means people that gave their phone number to redeem the offer. “Email” are people who gave their email as well.

pastreez

Also, Pastreez's marketing strategy is to never do discounts. The reason is that discounts hurt your brand in the long run. Customers will always wait for the next discount, and never buy your normal price tag. So your brand will be a “discount brand”. Have you ever seen Apple or Tiffany co. with discounts? No. And their sales are doing great!

Instead at Pastreez, we do freebies. Get 7 macarons free for over $42. In the eye of the customer, it’s worth $19 and is not perceived as a discount, more like a gift. And we all love gifts!

On our side, it costs less to make 7 macarons than to offer 15% OFF for example. It’s a win-win.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, Pastreez opened a new facility in Phelan, CA. The idea is to have a higher production capacity and the ability to hire help easily.

We’re proud to be in the top 5 best macarons online, and even “the most authentic macarons in the US” according to the prestigious culinary school Le Cordon Bleu.

With this new brick-and-mortar location, we can also sell to locals with curbside pick up. While 99% of our sales are through our website, it is still important to have a local impact.

We were recently featured in the Daily Press (High Desert of California #1 Newspaper). That is awesome press for a small business like Pastreez!

We recently released vegan macarons. It was a question we got a lot from customers. I saw an opportunity online as well. Even if it’s a smaller niche, your brand must diversify over time.

Also, a major release in September 2021 was Crêpes. We followed the same steps as with macarons and came up with a way to ship fresh throughout the United States.

We’re exploring for 2022 to sell authentic chocolate bonbons.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The biggest challenge we had to learn was having the macarons shipped. At the time we were in the farmers’ markets, we were selling directly to customers.

But shipping macarons was a REAL new obstacle: How to keep them fresh, how to adapt the macaron recipe, etc.

But through tests and iterations, we were able to perfect our shipping method. We now ship to every step in the United States, including Alaska and Puerto Rico!

It’s also important to keep the business moving with new macaron flavors and trying new stuff. This allows you to create new content and offer something new to your customers.

This is very important especially when we just started because we learned which macaron flavors were the most liked/disliked.

I’d also like to mention how Instagram has helped us diversify our business. When we started Pastreez on Instagram, we didn’t know what to post.

We grew from 0 to 100k+ followers in a year. And this was purely organic, we never spent a penny on it. Here is what we did.

We tested a few types of posts (photos/videos of macarons, videos of the macaron recipe, etc.). I then saw that we got the most engagement when we were showing steps and tips on how to make macarons at home.

I only focused our content on tips and tricks to master the macaron recipe and that worked.

Thanks to these tips and tricks that were performing well on Instagram (sometimes videos were 100k views each), we created an ebook and online macaron classes. We gathered 20,000 emails from fellow bakers, eager to learn more about making macarons.

We then offered online macaron classes that were available worldwide for a fee. The class got pretty popular with 4.8/5 star rating reviews over time.

pastreez

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Shopify is the best and most easy-to-go eCommerce platform.

It is also very easy to find developers on Upwork that will help you update your theme for a fee.

Once you find a suitable developer, I’d STRONGLY recommend building a relationship with them. This way, they will know your store, and it will be seamless for you to hire them in the future.

My favorite tool for SEO is SEMRush. I collect a lot of data, and it is a crucial help to rank higher on Google.

As marketing tools, I use Klaviyo for emails and Attentive for SMS. The reason I separate those is that Attentive has an easy double opt-in popup that is much more powerful (I shared the conversion rate screenshot earlier).

An amazing tool to gather reviews and feedback is Stamped. Linked with Klaviyo, we’re able to send automatic campaigns to ask for feedback. That was important to improve our macaron delivery service, especially when we just started.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Content Machine by Dan Norris is a very instructive book to me. I can’t emphasize enough to focus on SEO, because it drives “free” visitors to your site and is sustainable over time.

This book was helpful to build our blog, using the quality over quantity strategy. It helped me to come up with high-ranking blog ideas opportunities. For example, most customers were simply questioning what a macaron is.

So I created dedicated blog posts to help visitors in their research. Even if they don’t purchase right away, they’ll have you in mind if they ever do.

Making Websites Win is very helpful as well. It is a book focused on conversion rate optimization. It means it helps you build an efficient website that converts well.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Don’t overthink. Stop making excuses and just do it. Starter Story mantra is all about “doing”. I’m a doer. The “fear of failing” freezes most people. But it’s not failing. It’s learning.

pastreez

Too many times, I see passionate people that have great business ideas but are afraid of taking the next step. If you put enough heart into it, you WILL succeed.

The most important thing is to adapt. Don’t be too narrow with “what you think will work.” Once you confront your idea to the world, listen to your early customers to improve your offer.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Anthony Rosemond, Founder of Pastreez
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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