Learning to Market a Labor of Love
To help take a small business to the next level, RWU students learn the art it takes to make its signature treat
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In a townhouse on the east side of Providence, a handful of RWU students gather around a long kitchen table. Placed neatly on the table is a stack of sheet pans, a bowl, and a bag of sugar and flour giving the impression that they’re here for a private baking lesson with their host – Jorge Schuhmacher, owner and chief executive officer of Bold Macarons.
They will learn some baking skills today, but the students have a deeper goal. They hope to learn how to take Schuhmacher’s business to the next level by learning the art and labor that goes into making his bold-flavored macarons.
“You never know what might turn into something that could be used [in a marketing campaign],” says Assistant Professor of Marketing Geraldo Matos, who teaches the Marketing 302 Advertising Campaigns course the students are in.
Students are seeking to discover something unique in Schuhmacher’s hand-crafted process that they can integrate into the marketing campaigns they are developing for him as part of their 302 course.
By making their own macarons, Schuhmacher hopes students “get a sense of what it takes to make a good macaron,” and what makes his cookie stand out from the rest.
Professor Matos partnered with Schuhmacher to give his class of 27 interdisciplinary students a real-world advertising challenge: Put Schuhmacher’s Providence-based startup on the map.
After initially meeting with Schuhmacher in Feb., students were placed into five teams, researched market-trends and came up with base-strategies for their campaigns.
Now they are ready to flesh out the details with content that uniquely positions Bold Macarons – which uses unexpected flavors like wasabi – in the macaron-making market.
The experience today could be a key part to that, so the students listen, take notes and ask questions as Schuhmacher explains his process and the equipment and ingredients he uses – such as yuzu juice from Japan, eggs cracked two days in advance, and 100 percent chocolate imported from France.
Then, as French music plays lightly on the stereo, they get to work.
First, they chop the chocolate they will use for the macaron filling, called ganache. After Schuhmacher cuts the first half, sophomore Sarah Caron, a business management major, takes over.
“Not half bad, right?” Caron asks.
“Excellent,” Schuhmacher replies.
Once the chocolate is chopped, Schuhmacher heats it in a bowl before he adds cream and blends it together.
As he does, the students, each representing one of the five teams in the class, take photos and videos to be able to use in their campaigns.
“This smells incredible,” Josh Rosenberg, a senior marketing major, says as the chocolate blends with the cream, giving it a milky shine.
With the ganache done, Schuhmacher explains that “now is where the action starts,” as he starts making the macaron cookie mix.
When it’s nearly done, he adds bright pink food coloring then hand-mixes it using a large serving spoon. The pink and white swirl looks like art.
“When it’s ready, it has to fall off the spoon,” Schuhmacher says of the now fully pink mix.
Marketing major Natalie MacPhee, a first semester senior, says that for her watching the process brings out the “artistic thought that goes into” creating the macaron.
It’s helped her think of ways to bring that artistry into the campaign.
“It’s really getting insight into what the brand is about,” MacPhee says. “It’s art you can eat.”
When the cookie mix is finished, Schuhmacher pours the pink mix into a pastry bag and starts putting dollops of the mix onto one of the sheet pans as the students watch and take photos and video.
The students take the lead on the second sheet with Schuhmacher’s guidance.
“That looks very good,” Schuhmacher says.
As a finishing touch, lavender sugar sprinkles are added to the smooth pink circles.
So now, finally, it’s time to bake, Schuhmacher says.
The smell of fresh-baked cookie fills the air, as Josh Rosenberg, the senior marketing major, reflects on the process.
Seeing it and talking to Schuhmacher about his techniques has helped him see how much care goes into each batch.
“It’s a labor of love,” Rosenberg says. “It takes a lot of time. I feel like we should incorporate the time it takes. We need to reflect the hard work he does in a marketing campaign.”
As one of the sheet pans comes out the oven, the private baking lesson starts winding down. Students, however, keep up their questions to Schuhmacher because their work is really just getting started.
At RWU, we develop Civic Scholars who believe in community-engaged work. That’s why we commit to providing every student an opportunity that empowers them to put their knowledge and skills to the test solving real-world problems and creating meaningful change with community partners. Learn more about the Civic Scholars program and how to help us reach our goal of every student participating in civic scholarship.