Bakers Journal

Editor’s Letter: Tale of two businesses

June 11, 2024
By Colleen Cross

Chef Tammy Maki, owner of Raven Rising – Global Indigenous Chocolates, and Noorayn Meraj, owner of Misri Sweet Finales, shared their compelling success stories with attendees at Bakery Showcase in May. Photo: Bakers Journal

Every business has a story. We were excited and honoured to be in the presence of so many creative, inspiring bakers, pastry chefs and entrepreneurs at the recent Bakery Showcase trade show and conference in Toronto.

We use this space to shine a light on two such passionate entrepreneurs we hosted on a panel called “Culture Talk” sponsored by FCC – a forum for these inspiring women who made their dreams reality by sticking to their visions and putting in the work.

Both businesses were conceived and opened during the pandemic. Misri Sweet Finales, a catering business specializing in Indian desserts, classics and fusion creation based in Mississauga, was started, on a whim. “I thought, what does this market need? What am I missing that I want to go out, that I want to buy, that I want to eat?”

Chef Tammy Maki, the owner of Raven Rising Global Indigenous Chocolates based in Sudbury, Ont., is a pastry chef, baker and entrepreneur. From the start Chef Maki wasn’t thinking about a bricks-and-mortar business. She had a bigger mission: “Indigenous people as a whole are storytellers and knowledge keepers. And it’s part of my company’s ethos to also impart knowledge and share what I learned. So as part of the ’60s Scoop, I was separated from my culture and my knowledge.” 

Advertisement

Chocolate, which has persisted as a favourite for centuries, became a vehicle for that mission and an efficient ecommerce website became the means to that end. Said Chef Maki: “This business has allowed me to learn so much, and experience so much, and I get so excited about that. It’s awesome to be able to share that with my customers. My absolute passion in everything that I do out of all of my products are our handcrafted bonbons. Every month I make four different bonbons. And usually two of them are Indigenous-ingredient-forward. We also include tasting notes with every box. Each ingredient is paired with a specific chocolate. The chocolate is my vehicle for that ingredient introduction, so I can get people to eat pretty much anything I want in chocolate.”

Meraj described her beginnings: “I started out as a chef and I just moved to Canada seven years ago. Through my global travels, and devouring all desserts everywhere, we started thinking, how can we depict Canada in our business, it’s a melting pot of different cultures. We infused Indian desserts into French pastry, we infused English desserts with, say, something with the Iranian and Persian touch to it. So that’s basically the core of my business.”

Meraj emphasized the sense of confidence she’s gained from running your own business: “Being a single person operation, you’re handling everything, you’re handling your procurements, you’re handling your sales queries, you’re handling the cleaning, the cooking, you’re handling all your personal chores as well. There’s so much going on, it entirely takes over your life. But I don’t think there’s anything more gratifying than this whole process.”

The pair, who walked the trade show floor together after meeting in person for the first time, had advice for other entrepreneurs in this industry.

Said Chef Maki: “I think if you’re even considering opening up a business, know your product, know what you’re going to do, be aware that you’re going to be living eating and breathing that product 24-7. There is no escape, there are no holidays, there are no days off. But if you love it, it doesn’t matter.”

Meraj advised: “Keep it bootstrapped, start out small, and then grow slowly, one day at a time. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be so rewarding.”


Print this page

Advertisement

Stories continue below