Special education teacher shares sweetness with the community.
Melinda Weiss has always had an intense love for baking and been in the kitchen since she was a little girl—a tradition she carried on from her mother and grandmother. “When my mother was a young kid, her grandmother would bake cupcakes, and then her grandfather, who was a police officer, would take them into town and sell them,” Weiss says.
This passion for entrepreneurship mixed in with the love of baking and sweetening the souls of their customers, carried onto Weiss. “My favorite job was in the bakery, and when I started baking on my own, I asked my friend, who actually sells her own sweets through For the Love of Cookies, to sell my macarons. My friend told me I should just start my own business,” says the Woodbury resident and mother of two.
Teetering on uncertainty, Weiss took the leap and started her business online—now her stress relief comes from the art of baking macarons. The business’s name, Memoo’s Macs, was born after her son, Jacob (10), started calling her Memoo when he was very little. “That name just stuck. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s the name!’” Weiss says. With the epiphany of the new name—Memoo’s Macs—the business began to soar.
“When I originally started making macarons, they were such a pain because they are so tedious to make. I would throw away so many trays,” Weiss says, noting she still finds them difficult. After perfecting these sweets, she began to sell to a variety of customers. “Before my business, I’d give them to my neighbors and co-workers. Now, I have baby showers, weddings and birthday party orders,” she says.
“When my site took off, I was so excited. Last summer, I actually got into the Woodbury Resurrection Farmers Market, which is on Tuesdays; it was brand new this year, so it was the perfect place to test my products, and it was so much fun. I got giddy in the morning getting ready for it,” Weiss says.
Weiss notes her products are customizable, including color and flavor varieties. “I’ve done some really cute custom orders for people that have been really fun to make,” Weiss says. Her previous baking experience (She worked at Woodbury’s Gigi’s Cupcakes, where she decorated the cupcakes.), has given her many skills she can apply to Memoo’s Macs. “I was there the day it opened, and I really wanted to know what it was like working at a bakery and how to use all the equipment and what ingredients are used,” Weiss says. “When I had a stressful day at work, I’d love to go into the bakery and just decorate cupcakes. It was a huge stress reliever.”
Weiss also gets a lot of her macaron inspiration from a Facebook and YouTube site called Michelle’s Macarons. She often sifts through the comments to find recipes and other flavor profiles, and Weiss embraces the process of creating flavors for her sweet creations. The cookie part is called the shell, some of which consists of cocoa powder and cinnamon. The shells are then filled with a buttercream or chocolate ganache of some sort.
“Many people, when they make macarons, fill it with processed fillings, but I really try to make everything organic and by hand,” says Weiss. Memoo’s Mac’s bestseller is its salted caramel flavor. “I try to put out seasonal flavors along with classic flavors. Typically, I’ll put out Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter [boxes], and when summer comes around, I like to experiment with new flavors,” Weiss says.
“Macarons are also so extremely hard to make. I make the macarons the same way every single time, and sometimes they don’t turn out at the same time,” Weiss says. The baking process is so tedious that it often takes hours to make a batch. “You can only bake a tray at a time, and when I put them in the oven, I say a little prayer to the macaron god that they come out all right,” Weiss says.
Weiss also prepares gluten-free macarons and separates her baking area from her kitchen to avoid cross-contamination with bread and other gluten products.
Outside of Memoo’s Macs and baking, Weiss is a full-time high school special education teacher in Mendota Heights, a job that she loves just as much as baking. “I went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout for hospitality and tourism, but a year into my program, a family member was diagnosed with autism and at that time many people didn’t know what that was,” Weiss says. She worked as a special education paraprofessional one summer in college and absolutely loved it. From there, she changed her area of study to pursue her passion.
Weiss and her husband, David Weiss, now co-teach a program in Woodbury with about 40 kids with special needs on the autism spectrum, with cognitive disabilities and the like.
“People with disabilities deserve the chance to shine. All people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, deserve the opportunity to work in their community where they can live, learn, work and show others how wonderful they are,” Weiss says. “Because I love service so much and working in the hospitality field, we opened a coffee shop about five years ago at Two Rivers High School [in Mendota Heights], and it was run by my students, and they are rock stars.”
Weiss doesn’t know what the future holds, but the biggest dream she has is to mix her two passions together to create something sweeter for everyone involved—even though it might be hard to create, just like making a macaron.