The main portion of the tourist season is almost over, marked usually by the passing of Labor Day. Once we get into September, although there is still activity throughout the island, business definitely dies down. I just wanted to post a few of my favorite pictures from the fudge shop this summer:
We start most days by making one or all of our three types of brittle. Here, we’re waiting for the base of our peanut brittle to boil over before adding the peanuts. Sometimes it forms the shape of a heart in the middle, so once in awhile I’ll try to take a picture of it…
Below, some of our Pecan Glase, and then some more peanut brittle…
Slicing fudge from the marble tables:
Emptying a kettle full of our third brittle called Peco Flake, a brittle with peanuts and coconut:
It’s the start of another fall season, and I have purposefully been neglecting my blog writing all summer. I’ve been purposefully neglecting many of my normal summer activities with one main goal in mind, which was to put my all into running the family business here on Mackinac Island. There were nights where I’d go to sleep with fudge on my mind, and I’d wake up with fudge on my mind… and it’s still on my mind! Which brings me to the main topic of this post.
It took me awhile to decide how I really wanted to discuss my business experiences this summer because I didn’t want to share an inappropriate amount, but I do want to share, well, something! I don’t often like to talk about my work on my blog, mostly because I try to see this blog as a personal space instead of a marketing or business tool. I think I’ve been writing on a blog ever since college some odd years ago, and I’ve always found it a great place to get my thoughts out someplace. But since work has been the majority of my life these past couple of months, I can’t help but want to share some of the experiences that I’ve had.
I used to worry. As a naturally soft-spoken person, I worried about how much of a leader I could be running a business in a fast-paced environment found here in the summers on Mackinac Island. To help counter that, I’d sit and imagine myself in what I called a “perfect scenario,” and I’d be walking home early from work, knowing everyone was doing their jobs well and with little supervision, and I didn’t have one thing to worry about.
That day never actually came, but the visual was still incredibly helpful. Every time a difficult situation slapped me in the face, I had the strangest reaction. Calm. Suddenly I was back in my imagination, my “perfect scenario,” but instead of realizing that everything was fine, I knew that everything was going to BE fine. And from there, I was able to recalibrate.
Before the summer began I decided to spend some time reading the advice of Richard Branson, business mogul and owner of the Virgin Group. He put a big emphasis on putting employees first, so I did that as much as I could. In return, I ended up with my current crew of very motivated and happy employees! It was nice being able to see those ideas and work really come alive in front of you.
One aspect of this biz on which I focused was our social media outlet. We have Facebook and Twitter, but I wasn’t posting regularly, so I worked on adding more content to our sites. I also started an Instagram account for some extra photo love. And I really upped my game with getting more reviews on Tripadvisor, too. The extra attention to social media has been really positive for us so far, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
Probably the most online work that I’ve done has been fudge art! Now I’m not quite up to par with my artwork of my brother, Lee, but I knew that I could at least write names. And that’s just where I started! I first wrote all of the names of my employees, and you can see a few examples below:
I then started to post fudge photos on my personal Facebook page, offering to write the name of the first person to like the picture. I wasn’t sure how interesting this idea would be to everyone which is why I started on my own page, but it turns out that this was a lot of fun on both ends. It made me realize how interactive I could be with people online. Friends on Facebook that I didn’t even think paid attention to my posts were liking my photos for a chance to get their name written in the fudge, and I made sure not to spell any names wrong, either (and I never did thank goodness)!
I eventually traded in my measuring cup for a squeeze bottle (a much more sophisticated form of writing) and was able to come up with more interesting fonts:
And a few times, I did try my hand at drawing pictures:
Let me leave you with a bunch of photos from around the fudge shops, and also one of the quotes that has inspired me this summer … “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” ~ Winston Churchill
This past weekend was the big celebration of the Mackinac Fudge Festival. My anxieties are a little high this time of year because I worry about how well I can put forth the best of my fudge shops. This year, I was able to create a lot at the fudge shops, and with the new and fun ideas brought through the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, this year’s fudge festival was very exciting!
On Saturday, a store for each fudge shop gave a presentation on how they make fudge. Ours started at 5:00pm, which gave us plenty of time to fill our tables with lots of fudge…
My dad, Marvin May, has owned and operated the store for decades following his dad, Harold May, and my older sister, Tienne and I have been helping with the business as well. As much as I enjoy working with my family, I have also started to feel more creative as a candy maker in my fifth year of making fudge.
There are lots of different ways of making fudge, but I’m constantly trying to find new ways to present it, especially when designing the fudge in its last stage on the table:
When the demonstration began, I was ready for them! I took everyone through our process, the tools we use, our basic ingredients, and even had a little audience participation by letting people guess the weight of our copper kettles. I think everyone had a great time.
And of course as you all know, fudge can be pretty…
My next upcoming blog will have a lot more to do with what you see in this last photo… stay tuned!