- Company: Macaron Queen
- Owners: Nina Chteoui and Finia Jahangard (Co-Founders)
- Product: High-end macaron cookies
- Problem: Lack of growth
- Marcus’s Offer: $500,000 for 50% equity
- Season/Episode: Season 7, Episode 5
Life Before The Profit
Macaron Queen began as a tiny startup in the dessert space, with a colorful kiosk booth set up in Atlanta’s Perimeter Mall. The founders of this traditional French dessert company are a mother-daughter team with mixed Iranian and European heritage – but not a lick of French between them. This disconnect between the product’s cultural origins and their own ancestry doesn’t necessarily mean trouble, but it certainly doesn’t help their brand authenticity. Nonetheless, as Marcus finds out, their cookies are excellent.
Macarons are often called “the impossible cookie,” notoriously difficult to get right. Macaron Queen founder Finia Jahangard perfected her own macaron recipe over the years through careful study and a couple of cooking classes in old Paris. In 2017, Finia underwent heart surgery and since then she’s been struggling to maintain the business. Her daughter Nina has taken over much of the business in an effort to help her mom and keep the small-but-mighty bakery business from going under.
Marcus can see that Macaroon Queen has a strong business model on a small scale, but he thinks the business’s true untapped potential lies in its scalability as a national, direct-to-consumer product. He thinks the product can be a wholesale success, too, and considers himself the right man for the job, as he’s something of a “Macaron Snob.”
Macaron Queen makes dozens of delectable macaroon flavors, including red velvet, key lime, champagne and french raspberry (to name just a few).
Marcus sits down with the Macaron Princess and the Macaron Queen for a taste test. After a few bites of the colorful cookies, he makes a bold assessment: “These are the best macarons I’ve ever had,” he says. (And this coming from a self-professed Macaron Snob.)
Running the Numbers
Since Finia’s heart attack, Nina was forced to make a drastic career change and leave her former life to come help out in the family business. Nina’s background is in fashion design and international fashion distribution. She came into the bakery business to help her mother, essentially, which is sweet – but perhaps ultimately unsustainable. She’s quick to assure her mother that she doesn’t miss her old life too much – that her mother’s passion is her own. But Marcus can see the toll it’s taking on the mother-daughter duo.
He sits down with Nina and Finia to go over the numbers of their business. Most importantly, he wants to show them which retail stream is more profitable for them: retail or wholesale.
- Retail cost-to-fulfill: $1.39
- Wholesale cost-to-fulfill: $0.10
- Distribution: Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, GA; with wholesale distribution to Bubble Tea Retailers and Coffee Shops
- Total annual sales, 2018: $369,000
- Total net profit, 2018: $73,000
Marcus is ready and willing to invest, in $100,000 increments. At each level of investment, he wants to see certain production goals achieved, without compromising on quality. He’s willing to invest up to $500,000 – but for each $100k he invests, he wants 10% equity. They’re not obligated in any way to take the money, but it’s available to them if they need it. Ideally, he says, the business will make enough money that they won’t have to lean on his investments up to the full half-million threshold.
Nina and Finia barely need a moment to consider the deal. They are thrilled to accept Marcus’s offer.
Cookies With Intercontinental Style
Joseph Trevino is an Executive Chef at the Intercontinental Hotel, and he’s looking for a macaron master. The Intercontinental Hotel, he explains, doesn’t have an in-house pastry chef or an in-house macaron specialist, so their outsourcing pastry costs are high. They’re looking for someone exactly like Macaron Queen to help them out. Nina and Finia bring samples of their delicious cookies, and Trevino (no surprise) is impressed. He’s open to a deal but wants to stay competitive with pastry pricing. Current costs for the Intercontinental Hotel are between $0.89 and $1.19 per cookie. Nina and Finia are agreeable, and the pair strikes a deal with their new hotel distribution partner.
In the kitchen, Marcus is only minorly alarmed at the fact that Finia keeps having to stop repeatedly and check her resting heart rate on a Fitbit attached to her wrist. If a heart attack is imminent, it surely can’t be more important than making a profit. This is NBC, after all.
They are finally forced to take a break when Finia’s heart rate skyrockets to 166. That’s more than a hundred beats per minute higher than it’s supposed to be.
After the gang is fully recovered, Marcus and Nina head to Manhattan for a meeting with Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman.
A New York Minute
Catching up with Mindy in New York, the gang gets some valuable insight on how up their marketing game and really develop their brand’s unique voice and style. As usual, the macaron samples are a huge hit, and the tasters from Weight Watchers can’t quite believe how delicious the treats are.
On a video call with Finia (resting back home in Atlanta), the Weight Watchers team gushes over the product and tells Finia they’d love to be involved with making Macaron Queen a healthy, delicious option for their global network of clients. “That would be my dream,” says Finia. She’s clearly overjoyed, and the segment ends on a high note.
A Happy Ending for Macaron Queen
With distribution deals in progress at Intercontinental Hotels and Weight Watchers, things are looking up for Macaron Queen. Marcus and Finia let Nina have the stage in the episode’s final segment, asking her what she’d like to do. She gave up her life to help her mother, and they want her to know that that option is still on the table, if she so chooses. Is she ready to go back to her former life in high-fashion? Or is she going to stick it out in the family business? “I’m not a quitter,’ she says, a remark which brings tears to her mother’s eyes. “I’m going to see this through.”
Where Are They Now? Life After The Profit
For Macaron Queen, business seems adequate, although the distribution deals alluded to in this episode of The Profit seem to have fallen through, and the retail sales they were hoping for don’t seem to have materialized.
The Macaron Queen website features a user-friendly shopping interface for online ordering and free overnight shipping on orders over $175.
The full Macaron Queen product line dazzles, even in webpage form, with delectable gluten-free treats such as:
- French Mix Macarons – $27 – A classic selection of old favorites and French standbys, including Pistachio, French Raspberry, Crème de Lemon, Cappuccino, Coconut, Almond Croissant, Rose Lychee, Passion, Mango White Chocolate, Matcha Green Tea, Vanilla Strawberry, Lemon Raspberry, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Double Dark Chocolate, Coconut Chocolate, Hazelnut Nutella, and Vanilla Bean.
- Fruity Lovers Macarons – $27 – A random selection of fruit-filled macarons create a vibrant mix of French Strawberry, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Raspberry, Crème de Lemon, Mango White Chocolate, Passion Fruit White Chocolate, Raspberry White Chocolate, Vanilla Strawberry, Mix Berry Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Blueberry Citrus, Coconut, Love Potion, Raspberry Lemon, Rose Lychee, Strawberry Cheesecake, Strawberry Shortcake and Taro.
- Chocolate Indulgence Macarons – $42 – A random selection of Double Dark Chocolate, Raspberry White Chocolate, Valentine-Decorated Red Velvet, Limited-Edition Raspberry Chocolate Truffle and Chocolate Grand Marnier.
As of July 2020, Macaron Queen is sold directly online and through distribution with Cafe Bene and Tiny Bubbles.
The business maintains a lively social media presence on Instagram, which boasts well over 4,000 followers.
This reporter, for one, is one macaron queen fan who hopes the future sweetens up.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Macaroon Queen, The Profit, or any of its subsidiaries.