Macs by Belle's Macarons Are Drawing Crowds at Tower Grove Farmers Market



Macs by Belle is serving up a kaleidoscope of macarons at Tower Grove Farmers Market. - COURTESY OF MACS BY BELLE
  • Macs by Belle is serving up a kaleidoscope of macarons at Tower Grove Farmers Market.

If you've been to the Tower Grover Farmers Market over the past few months, chances are you've heard the buzz about Mac's by Belle, a new macaron outfit owned by up-and-coming baker Laura Branson. Just two months into business, the singularly focused bakery has developed a robust following thanks to its stunning macarons, regularly selling out well before the market closes. According to Branson, the response has not just been exciting to watch happen, it's been completely unexpected.

"It's been shocking," Branson says. "The first market, I brought 400 macarons and sold out in two hours. The next one, I brought 550 and still sold out at least an hour before closing. The feedback has been so wonderful. People have been coming up saying that they saw someone enjoying them on the sidewalk, so they've been coming to my booth from word of mouth, and I just started getting orders from there. The market has been such a great opportunity for me."

Not that long ago, Branson would never have imagined herself to be a macaron baker with a growing business. A longtime home baker, she traces her passion for the kitchen back to her immigrant great-grandparents who infused everything they did with love. She inherited their love for baking, but she never thought it was a career path she would follow, opting instead to go for the safe bet of a job in the health-care industry where she works in billing.

Baking has always been a way for Branson to indulge in her creative inclinations, and about five years ago, she started tackling macarons. She had come across a recipe and was instantly intrigued because of how fancy they looked, but also because there was no limit to what you could create using them as a jumping off point. She made her first batch as a gift for her son's godparents following his baptism, and though she wasn't thrilled with the result, she was determined to get better.

"They are so difficult to make because you have to use the right flour and take into account whether it's humid or raining," Branson says. "But I don't think I would have been attracted to them if they weren't so difficult. If I had chosen anything else, I would've been bored. I'm definitely one of those people that wants to throw two hundred percent of my energy into something, do it, then move on, but this is the one thing that has continued to challenge me."

Laura Branson, owner of Macs by Belle, is excited to finally be living her passion. - COURTESY OF MACS BY BELLE
  • Laura Branson, owner of Macs by Belle, is excited to finally be living her passion.

Branson might have continued simply making her macarons as gifts for friends and family, but they wouldn't stop cheering her on and insisting that she explore whether she could make an actual business out of her talents. After connecting with the local food incubator and commissary kitchen STL Foodworks, she learned the ins and outs of setting up her business. With the help of its manager, Daniel Movitz, she felt ready to take the leap. As soon as he connected her with Tower Grove Farmers Market, there was no turning back.

Branson has big plans for Macs by Belle. In addition to taking on more special order business, she hopes to launch a monthly subscription box in time for the holidays, though she is taking that slow considering she still holds down her full-time medical billing job. In the meantime, she's developing more and more flavors, all built around her desire to bring to life things that remind people of the dishes they enjoy, like apple pie, or some of her more whimsical flavors such a butter beer and Fruity Pebbles.

However, she hopes that, in just a matter of months, she will be able to dedicate herself fully to Mac's by Belle, where she believes the sky will be the limit to what she can do with her business.

"I'm just now at a point where I am ready to retire my other job," Branson says. "My husband is getting ready to graduate from nursing school and will be finished in the spring. We're waiting for that safety net because it's scary to give up a full-time paycheck. But when he's finished, I'm going to say goodbye to health care and do what I love. For years, I've been telling him that I just want to be in the kitchen and bake macarons, and now that it's happening, I can't believe it."

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