Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Meredith O’Shaughnessy, founder and CEO of Oh La La Macarons.
What is Oh La La Macarons and how did it come to life?
As a creative entrepreneur with an eco-system of innovative, forward-thinking businesses and a core passion for creating beautiful experiences for people, I set up Oh La La in 2013, creating the world’s first ‘Macarons & Martini Workshop’ that was inspired by creating beautiful, delicious macarons while enjoying my favourite cocktail, a martini.
Initially, Oh La La Macarons were not sold beyond those crafted in the workshops, but clients who had experienced the workshops started to ask where they could buy them. Oh La La Macarons became available for private clients, which I handcrafted myself. I’ve created macarons for Vivienne Westwood Couture, Lulu Guinness and even flew to New York to personally make macarons for Manolo Blahnik’s first ever catwalk show. The Wall Street Journal once said: ‘Meredith O’Shaughnessy has a spatula and isn’t afraid to use it!’
This finally led us to selling boxes of our limited edition, exclusive macarons online, all made in our socially conscious boutique bakery in Bloomsbury, London. Our philosophy is simple, to bake the highest quality macarons with creativity and flair. Each irresistible macaron is handcrafted by our talented chefs using the finest ingredients, never adding flour or stabilisers, which ensures a naturally delicious gluten-free recipe – we’ve been proud to win Taste Awards for our macarons. The Macaron & Martini workshops are still a pillar of the business, remaining the same formula as day one and as popular as ever.
What three words describe Oh La La Macarons?
Joy in a bite (okay that’s four!).
Who is the Oh La La Macarons customer?
Those looking for a special treat, some luxury indulgence or a considered and meaningful gift, who expect a certain level of quality and craftsmanship. More than the ‘seasonal gifter’, our macarons are for those searching for celebratory or congratulatory gifts, party delights, hen parties, baby showers, birthdays, weddings, thank you gifts, ‘just to say’ gifts, special events or dinner parties.
Tell us a bit about how you come up with new new macaron designs and flavours? Is there a tasting process?
Inspired by creativity, art, fashion and the world of Meredith Collective – Oh La La Macarons are small bites of magic. We are inspired by what is happening around us. In 2018, we created the world’s first tampon macarons to raise awareness and funds for the charity Bloody Good Period. It felt like a very bold thing to do but very in line with our values, using something fun to bring attention to an important cause.
When we aren’t making macarons that have such an intentional message, we love to play around with shapes and colours, from hamburger macarons to ones that are decorated in gold leaf. It’s important to us however crazy the shape that the taste is still excellent.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Running two companies is really hard work and there’s lots to juggle, but I have an amazing team. Normally I get up, have a coffee, do 25 minutes exercise and then it’s time to walk my pup, Phoebe.
At the moment we are in the process of opening up a new production kitchen and photography studio – it’s about ten minute’s walk from my flat so I’ll go over there and check on the builders.
Then it’s back to my desk to oversee the various company developments, including a new website we are launching. The team will arrive in the kitchen and start whipping up macarons. Often they will ask my advice if we are developing new flavours or need to discuss a bespoke order. I see my job as supporting them to do theirs, providing the tools and skills they need to make the best macarons in the world.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?
To be honest, I’ve run my own company for so long now I’m not sure what the alternative would be like. I guess the most challenging thing is the pressure to ensure that your team are well looked after and that you are constantly reviewing how the business runs. There have been so many changes the past two years, costs going up, not being able to ship to Europe, people’s health concerns – you have a responsibility to juggle all of that. The best thing is you are the master of your own destiny, plus I get to focus on bringing beautiful things into the world and supporting an amazing network of craftspeople.
The best Oh La La Macarons moment so far?
We’ve had so many! This year we’ve had our macarons presented to Prince Charles and we’ve also won a Taste Award. Looking back, our macarons have been served at amazing fashion shows and used in filming (you can spot our macarons in the latest series of The Great).
Which Oh La La macaron is your favourite?
Oh gosh, it’s so hard to choose – as we come into the festive period I love our Christmas macaron selection – the snowmen and gingerbread people are adorable.
Anything exciting in the pipeline?
So many things! When we open up our site at Kirby St we’ll be able to invite people further into the Oh La La world, which is very exciting and I can’t wait for the new website to be launched – we’ll have a function on there where people will be able to pick which of our macarons they would like in each box, increasing the personalisation of gifts.