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“Former engineer in aeronautics, I now make madeleines”

“Take a break, see something else. This is what I needed at the end of my studies, after five years at the Higher School of Aeronautical Techniques and Automotive Construction (Estaca). So, following my end-of-studies internship at Dassault Aviation, which I really enjoyed, I flew to Australia in search of a new air.

My plans ? Traveling and working in different trades to integrate myself and finance my journey. Initially, my English not being great, I started with a job where I didn’t need to speak too much, in construction. Then, I practiced on a farm, before spending six months in the kitchen in a burger restaurant in Brisbane.

Prospects blocked due to the pandemic

Back in France after more than a year, I looked for a job in my sector: aeronautical engineering. I was recruited in February 2019 as a system integration engineer at Expleo (formerly Assystem Technologies), an Airbus service provider, in Toulouse. A permanent job, with a mission that promised to be interesting.

Very quickly, I had the feeling that I was locking myself into a career that didn’t suit me. First, because the aviation sector did not seem so stimulating to me, I did not see the prospects for evolution. And then, in Australia, I had done fairly dynamic jobs. There, I spent most of my time behind a computer, I felt that I was starting to hurt my eyes, my back.

With the pandemic, projects and recruitments in aviation have suddenly been frozen. The prospects seemed very blurred, and a priori, a return to normal was going to take time. I told myself that perhaps this period should be made into an opportunity and that it was the perfect time to change jobs.

Tests during a period of partial unemployment

I did not see myself resuming training but rather undertaking and training myself on the job. Still had to find something in it… I thought of food, because I liked to cook, especially pastries, but also because it would allow me to master the manufacturing process from A to Z.

Why did I bet on the madeleines? First, because it’s something that speaks to everyone, as Proust said. Then, because I felt that it was an overly industrialized product at a time when local quality trade is regaining interest. Finally, because this product gave me the possibility of declining it in different sweet flavors but also, more innovative, salty.

Due to the health crisis, I found myself on partial unemployment for several months. I put this free time to good use, testing recipes, finding the right one, evaluating the cost of raw materials and seeing if my project could be profitable. In the summer of 2020, I was convinced that it was the right choice.

Leave with a social plan

In February 2021, I took the opportunity of a social plan in my company to leave with allowances allowing me to partially finance my project, and to benefit from my rights to unemployment. What to get started without too much stress, because I was well aware that it was not my job and that it would not be easy.

Direction the Vendée. My parents had an alternative farm development project there near Challans in which I wanted to get involved, and I knew the area well, where I had spent all my childhood summers with my grandmother.

Four months later, I launched my business under the name of M comme Madeleine. On the material side, I had to invest around 35,000 euros – a sum that comes in part from a bank loan. And that’s how I started to make madeleines in a garage converted into a laboratory belonging to my parents, and to sell them on the department’s markets.

Produce more to earn money

I don’t regret my old job at all. It’s true that being a wage earner has a reassuring side: you know what amount is going to your bank account at the end of the month, and when you work in a big company like the one I was in, you have the opportunity to work on large-scale projects with a lot of resources. But with entrepreneurship, I am free to choose the direction I want to go in, I can approach all the professions that govern a company, manage projects from start to finish, have a flexible schedule and be creative. Madeleines with chocolate, cinnamon, lemon, olives, walnuts, goat cheese… I am constantly looking for new recipes.

My favorite thing is when I sell during night markets, when the weather is good. The atmosphere there is really nice. And then, it’s gratifying to see that some customers come back, saying they liked the product.

Obviously, I’ve had some failures, with madeleines that weren’t well baked, with an approximate shape, productions that were too low or too high… I’m making progress every day and my project is really starting to take shape.

The madeleines that I make in Saint-Christophe-du-Ligneron, on my parents’ farm, are sold on the markets or in bulk grocery stores in Vendée. To make a living from this activity, I still need to make great progress, especially in the manufacturing process, to produce more, and diversify my points of sale.

Failure doesn’t scare me. And I tell myself that if it doesn’t work, too bad, I would have done my best and I would come out of it grown up, ready to bounce back on something else. But I am confident! »

To note

If you also have a beautiful (or less beautiful) story to tell, do not hesitate to contact us: redaction-start@lesechos.fr

And to read other inspiring testimonials, it’s HERE.

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