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November 01, 2015
Times Colonist article on shoppe launch.
Jeanette Miller sweetened up her life by switching careers to make and sell organic candy in her new store in Fairfield.
Tout de Sweet Confections operates out of a tiny 350-square-foot space, just the right size for the fledgling candy shop, joining a cluster of small businesses near the corner of Moss Street and Fairfield Road.
A marketing and public relations consultant for 20 years, Miller had been based Victoria, working for clients in Vancouver, for the past dozen years. She decided it was time for a change.
Tout de Sweet Confections operates out of a tiny 350 square-foot space, just the right size for a fledgling candy shop, joining a cluster of small businesses near the corner of Moss Street and Fairfield Road.
A marketing and public relations consultant for 20 years, Miller has been based in Victoria, working for clients in Vancouver, for the past dozen years. She decided it was time for a change. <read more... >
Miller’s lifelong love of baking and cooking led her to start a test kitchen at home. She began with marshmallows, discovering, “This is fun.”
She was hooked.
“I went from marshmallows to caramels, which I gave away for Christmas. Then to lollipops and then to fruit chews and, next thing I knew, I had a line of candies.”
Miller wanted a new career challenge in her life. It’s a different experience to sell a product than a service, she said.
Because her clients were mainly in the Lower Mainland, she was used to travelling to Vancouver. And although her home is in Victoria, she “didn't feel connected” to the city.
“I started thinking about, ‘What can I do?’ ”
She loves farmers markets and decided to find something to make and sell at markets. While she was in a market in Vancouver, she spotted organic cotton candy for sale, sending her in that direction.
“I started doing my research,” said Miller, who has candy cookbooks lined up in her shop.
Making candy is a “lost art,” she said.
To do it the way she wants, Miller uses good quality, natural ingredients. “It is just like anything. If you are going to have it, make sure it is really good.”
She started selling candy last year at the Moss Street Market, which worked out well. Further sales at Christmas craft sales convinced her that she was taking the right step.
Miller’s career change is part of a trend.
“We’re changing jobs more often, working in more jobs and more sectors over our careers, and moving provinces for work with greater frequency,” said a 2014 report from Workopolis, a Canadian job board and research operation.
“The people who achieve the greatest success are those who are the most willing to embrace change and progress along with the evolving situation,” Workopolis said.
Miller opened her store June 15 in a rented space with a commercial kitchen, at 1267 Fairfield Rd., next door to the Cottage Bakery and Café.
Tout de Sweet’s shelves are stacked with organic, gluten-free, corn-syrup-free and nut-free goodies, all made with natural flavours. Products are designed to appeal to adults as well as children.
A package of eight large marshmallows costs $6.50 and flavors include vanilla bean, toasted coconut, raspberry and chocolate.
Other offerings include caramels, at $9.50 per package, which come in a range of flavours including rosemary, licorice, chai, espresso-cardamom. Lollipops are $1.50 each. Brightly coloured containers of cotton candy are $3 each while flavoured popcorn is fresh and crunchy at $6.50 per bag.
Candy-making requires a delicate touch and a scientific approach. Temperature, humidity and air flow can all affect results, meaning that Miller is constantly taking those factors into consideration when working on her stovetop.
The business is a family affair and a homecoming for Fairfield-raised Miller. Her brother, Richard Miller, owns the nearby Fairfield Bicycle Shop, allowing them to spend more time together.
Eldest daughter Peyton, 12, is helping out with new packaging this summer. Mallory, 8, joined her mom at the Moss Street Market on Saturdays last year to sell meringues. Husband David Karn is the heavy lifter when needed, Miller said.
Tout de Sweet is among 382,200 small businesses in B.C. — about 98 per cent of all businesses in the province, the 2014 Small Business Profile for B.C. states.
Small businesses are a key component of the provincial economy, the report said. In 2013, they were responsible for about 31 per cent of B.C.’s gross domestic product.
Miller’s business plans include selling candy wholesale in the fall, holding special events such as taffy-pulling parties, and supplying the wedding and special events market.
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