Posted on March 16 2016
These week's Wednesday Woman is in fact Wednesday Women! This lovely duo are female founders Stacey O'Gorman and Alex Hoffler of Meringue Girls. Trained chefs, food stylists, and cookbook authors, these girlbosses met when they worked together in a restaurant in hip Hackney in East London and shared a love for all things sweet, especially meringues! Here's their story:
Bardega: Can you tell us a bit about your background and what sparked your passion for cooking?
O’Gorman: For sure. We both trained as chefs and met working in a hot, sweaty restaurant kitchen in Hackney!
Hoffler: I think it's fair to say we've both always had a passion for food, Stacey left New Zealand looking to travel the world, one culinary adventure at a time. I trained at Leith's and have always had a passion for food and business. I guess I take after my mum there, she was a real shoulder-padded business woman of the 80s.
Bardega: And how did you find working in a kitchen which tends to be fairly male-dominated?
Hoffler: They are super male-dominated but we carved out our own little area, and held our own. We were the only ladies in the kitchen, and schemed a way of starting up our own thing.
O’Gorman: We really wanted to start our own business, where we were the boss. We had so many ideas, and wanted to carve out our own future.
Hoffler: A rainbow coloured, neon future with our gal pals at the centre.
Bardega: What first gave you the Idea to start Meringue Girls and how did you make it happen?
Hoffler: We love colour, creativity, and all things sweet. Cupcakes were having a roaring success at the time, but we knew there would be space in the market soon for a new trend. We wanted to create something that was naturally gluten free, and used only natural ingredients - something that didn't have to be refrigerated (so that it was perfect for weddings and events), and was visually impactful e.g. instagrammable (!) and also delicious.
O’Gorman: I had always loved meringues - notoriously difficult to make - they hadn't yet been taken past big vanilla blobs. We wanted to take them to the next level, and experimented adding colours and flavours - from popcorn, to gin and tonic. Our most popular meringue kiss now is called unicorn poo, and has all the colours of the rainbow.
Hoffler: We started off in my kitchen at home and then, as the orders started flying in, we moved into a shared production kitchen in a railway arch in London Fields and, in April of 2015, we moved into our very own bakery just off Broadway Market.
O’Gorman: We've branched out in to lots of other sweet treats too now and are currently developing a refined sugar free and raw range - but all with a Meringue Girls twist.
Bardega: Running a business is hard work, can you tell us the biggest hurdles you have faced running a successful business and how did you overcome them?
O’Gorman: For us, having never worked in business before, it was a huge shift and we were learning all the time. We were lucky in that Alex's mum is a formidable business woman and gave us lots of help and advice. We've also been going on business courses to get our head around it all.
Hoffler: For me, aside from starting a new business, I also became a mama and juggling my daughter and work has been a huge challenge. I'm lucky to have an incredibly supportive business partner and friend in Stacey though.
O’Gorman: We also couldn't have achieved what we have in the last two years without the brilliant MG team, namely the fab Sylvia. She started as a baker back in the early days and has become a company co-director this year; we're very lucky to have her.
Bardega: What advice would you give other women looking to start their own business?
O’Gorman: Find something you really care about and that really inspires you.
Hoffler: Social media is a dream, and your best PR tool (we've never used professional PR) - collaborate and link up with other businesses to get the initial word out there.
O’Gorman: Also, choose the people you work with carefully, your team can make or break you so try and find people that have the same passion as you about your business - treat them well and it will pay off in the long run.
Bardega: Who/what inspires ?
O’Gorman: God so many people you know, from Beyonce to David Chang!
Hoffler: We always find inspiration from Instagrammers, whether it's for new MG creations, collabs, or just our dinner! I get inspired when I think about how far we have come on this little journey, the people that we have met and brought along the way, and the fire in our bellies that is still yearning for more fun and games.
Bardega: If you could go back in time what advice would you give a younger Alex and Stacey?
O’Gorman: Dream big gurl, one day they might come true.
Hoffler: Ha, yeah I second that. And also if you don't ask, you don't get. That one's got me pretty far I think.