I met this amazing young woman a few weeks ago at a retreat for small creative businesses. She took the plunge and she opened her own small business as a baker in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. She shared her work with me and I was blown away. Because I still love all things cake, I asked Marion where she leaned her craft. She told me she was self taught. She. Taught. Herself. She also has an amazing story.
Marion Attal has baking since she was a little girl. She has never had any formal training regarding baking and everything she learned about baking in the kitchen, she learned from her French grandma Mamie Brougitte. As Marion told me, “I am self taught, family taught or surroundings taught.”
When Marion was in her early 20s she worked in the theater industry in Paris and New York. Soon after the theater biz, she moved to South Africa where the career opportunities were slim. Not knowing what to do for work, Marion opened a small stall in the local farmers market and started selling pumpkin Whoopi pies and red velvet cupcakes, things she learned from Grandma. Those treats gained some popularity with the locals and they started inquiring about cakes. Marion wasn’t particularly interested in baking cakes, and based off of what she knew about baking cakes she wasn’t very interested. People insisted and she did a bit of research, and that is when she found sugar flowers. And as Marion puts it, “It all snowballed from there.”
Marion had grandma’s tutelage for baking in the kitchen, but for the sugar flowers, she took a few workshops with Maggie Austin to get the basics and also searched for advice through online tutorials. After that it was all about practice, practice and more practice. Something that Marion was very familiar with in working in the theater.
Now Marion’s favorite part of the job is everything and anything that has to do with design and artistic creation. Right now it’s working with molds and painting them. Her most rewarding part of her job is the “empty canvas” and adding all the decorative elements it took hours to make. Details are demanding, they take a practiced hand and discipline. That is very easy to see when you are looking at Marion’s cakes, “The cakes are a perfect match for me, if I had stuck to the cupcakes and Whoopi pies I would have felt unfulfilled artistically.”
Marion armed with grandma’s lessons and a love of sugar flowers, she opened Mamie Brougitte Cakes. Marion’s cakes are artistic and beautiful. Her work speaks for itself. Check out her website here.