We were fascinated to find out more about the growing popularity of cupcakes in a country known for its obsession with beautiful pastries. Bobbie Maker of Berties Cupcakery right in the heart of Paris explained how shes adapted to the French taste to make her cupcakes successful in the city of lights.
“My name is Bobbie Maker, owner of Bertie’s Cupcakery here in Paris. I am originally from Newfoundland, Canada, but I moved to the USA on an athletic scholarship for university and stayed there for almost 10 years before moving to Paris with my husband.”
“When we opened our doors in 2012, it was October, and I was able to work my way into the business slowly. A first-time business owner in a different city entails a lot of learning! In America, I was inspired by vibrant and complicated flavors such as chunky monkey and rocky road. But when I moved to Paris (Read our Paris Travel Tips), I visited many pastry shops and sampled many different macaroon flavors to find the right taste for my Parisian cupcakes. The French seem to love pure flavors. Salted Caramel, Strawberry Lemonade, and Nutella seem to be among the favorites.”
“I have been baking for as long as I could reach the top of the countertop in my parent’s kitchen (to which I had a little step stool to assist!). I grew up in a big family, and my parents cooked every day, and for the weekends and special occasions, there were often special treats going in the oven as well. I was always following my mom around the kitchen trying to help, and I always wanted to be in the kitchen.
When we were living in the USA, I was a school teacher, writing for my blog, and creating custom design cakes and cupcakes for many friends as a hobby. Eventually, friends of friends were contacting me to make cake and cupcake displays for their parties, and it bloomed from there. The problem was when we decided to move to Paris, I didn’t have any friends here. No friends of friends were calling now for custom orders. So I was at a loss of what to do, baking custom designs was my passion. Finally, I decided that the French culture could use a little Cupcake Love in their lives, so I dove in head first with entrepreneurship in Paris, and I am so happy I did!”
“My most significant piece of advice would be to make your cupcake recipes. Many recipes you see online and in books are all the same recycled recipes. The recipes at Bertie’s are 100% mine, I have created them from scratch, and I think that’s what differentiates Bertie’s from other cupcake shops in Paris. So create your recipes, flavors, combinations, and don’t be afraid to fail! What is the worst that can happen other than losing a cup or two of flour and sugar! Who knows what you might create!”
“You mean besides Bertie’s?
I don’t discriminate when it comes to French delicacies, I love food, and I love trying everything this country has to offer! However, I am particular of the different bakeries’ products! We have 5 different boulangeries in our neighborhood, and my husband and I will go to 3 different one on a given Saturday just to get a specific product from each. We love the baguettes at one place, but their quiche isn’t great so we’ll go across the road for that, but the best tarte citron is just another block away in the other direction so we’ll walk there for that, and so on. So depending on what I’m looking for decides on the boulangerie. Otherwise, all French fare is fair game for my appetite!”
“I don’t tend to follow one particular pastry chef or cake designers. Our industry of cupcakes and custom designed cakes is ever evolving, and you have to be kind of keeping in touch with what the styles and trends are. Fashion is a big component of what we do too. Knowing the colors and textures that are ‘in style” are essential. I just finished creating a custom Chanel “Boy” flap purse for a birthday cake as that’s a current trend.”
“Just the fact that we have such a diverse population of clientele in Paris is interesting to me. Delivering a wedding cake to a private chateau outside of Paris is fantastic to me. Lots of brides come to Paris to have the wedding of their dream in a castle on a vineyard. On the other side of the spectrum, we have done orders for big media outlets for movies and premiers.”
“These are tough questions! How do I choose? I have made a few favorites. One cake was a surprise proposal cake that I created the Paris city skyline with “Will you marry me” on a banner. We have been a part of several proposals, and that’s truly incredible. Another was a 3-D giraffe baby shower cake, and he had a Mohawk! We are creating a lot of Paris specific cupcakes now too, and I will never get sick of making tiny edible Eiffel Towers!”
“Please if you can find the answer to this question I would love to hear it! I am sure any entrepreneur or small business owner out there will tell you the same thing that in the beginning there likely is no balance in those first few months, years, etc. Bertie’s is only a year and a half old, so I still consider the shop a baby. We have a lot of things to do, fix, and more importantly expand. It’s an exciting time, hectic time, frustrating at times, and most of all a very proud time in my life.
The only form of balance you might say that I have created is keeping up with my running. I am an avid runner, and that is the best outlet that I have to find balance and stress release. It’s also an excellent way for me to see our city throughout the seasons. I usually run from Notre Dame to Versailles, and it’s incredible to see how much it changes from spring to fall.
Written by our Paris Network Developer, Krystal Kenney
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