Maker Profile: Jeanette Miller of Tout de Sweet Confections
Meet the Maker is an ongoing series that showcases up-and-coming designers, artists and creatives. Meet Victoria's Jeannette Miller: early riser and mother of two whose "retirement project" is a collection of organic, allergen-friendly caramels, marshmallows, lollipops and candies called Tout de Sweet Confections.
Who are you and what do you design?
I’m Jeanette Miller and I handcraft a line of organic candy that is lower in allergens (nut-free, peanut-free, gluten-free and primarily corn-free) called Tout de Sweet Confections.
Tell us a bit about how you got you to where you are today.
I’ve always been a ‘maker’ and so when I was looking to “retire” from a 20-year marketing & PR career, I knew I was going to make something with my hands. I made caramels for Christmas gifts one year and a friend encouraged me to sell then at the local farmers market. When I started making a range of candy that included marshmallows and lollipops, I knew I found my path.
If you could choose one word to describe your collection what would it be.
Make lattes for me and my mum (she moved in with us earlier this year) then right on to the computer to check Facebook, Instagram and email. At 7 a.m. I wake up our two girls (aged 9 and 13) and then make lunches, breakfasts and get myself dressed.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Other candy makers and friends and customers with major food allergies. The excitement on my customers’ faces when they realize they can eat my candy because it doesn’t have nuts, gluten; no artificial flavours or colours, corn syrup or in some products no corn at all, and it’s made a dedicated gluten-free and nut-free environment……their happiness truly makes my day. I started out doing this for me as a new career path but now I do this for them. I continue to search for ways I can make or supply more allergen friendly products.
Tell us about maintaining a balance. Do you?
For me, balance is putting family first by limiting my shoppe’s retail hours to school hours Tuesday to Friday so that I can take my youngest daughter to swimming lessons and sports activities, and be home in time to make dinner every night. I openly admit that I have the worst retail hours ever.
Is there a designer or brand with whom you’d love to collaborate?
I already have a great collaboration with Silk Road Tea – I make London Fog caramels with their Imperial Earl Grey Tea, which they sell exclusively in their Victoria and Vancouver store locations, and we are planning to expand to a custom lollipop and hopefully more items.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to launch their own business?
Build an advisory group of other entrepreneurs who you can call on for advice and support from everything from marketing & PR to manufacturing logistics and shipping. And in your lowest moments, when you are wondering what you are doing and why, make sure you call on them for support. Don’t struggle on your own and in silence.
What’s next for you?
Christmas is my busiest time of year so I can barely think beyond December. After participating in Refresh (I’m SO EXCITED!), I’ll be back in Victoria to sell at Craft Cartel, Owl Designer Fair and then over to Vancouver for Make It!