Today we have an informative Q&A with the dessert queen herself, Allison from Hampshire-based Queen Bees.
Q. Tell us about Queen Bees and what you offer?
A. Queen Bees is all about the personal touches, the extra elements to compliment and personalise your wedding. Specialising in French Macarons, whilst also supplying sweets and other home baked items. Queen Bees create gifts, wedding favours and macaron towers. We’re known for our distinctive style and ability to make bespoke items.
Q. How long have you been going?
A. In the current format Queen Bees has been around for about four years.
Q. How did your business come about/what’s your background?
A. Prior to Queen Bees I spent a couple of decades in the IT industry as a Trainer and Technical Author. I owned and ran a training company successfully within this period. In 2011, I moved with my family from the North of England to Hayling Island and decided that I needed time to concentrate on our little unit, so stepped away from the IT world.
Meeting mums at school assisted in the making of new friends and relationships. One particular mum and now close friend, was also looking at things to do whilst the children were at school. We both loved baking, and often made cakes for the school bake sales. Whilst chatting one day we came up with an idea of making cakes and selling them. Neither of us felt we could make the big stunning cakes, but we were pretty good at the homely ones so set off providing high teas. We’d supply the crockery and food, bring everything to your home/venue, set up, then return and collect the dirty crockery after the event. We did a few events, but soon into making and baking, we started getting asked for the macarons separately so started selling those as gifts. Not long after realising that our macarons were a strong product my friend announced she was emigrating to Australia and within a few months she was off. So I could have said that’s that and stopped, but the momentum of Queen Bees was developing so I carried it on and one day we might have an Australian branch!!
Q. What changes have you seen within the wedding industry?
A. When I started out the theme for a lot of weddings was vintage and rustic. Now a good percentage of the weddings I’m involved in are simple, classic and timeless. Rustic still appears to be going strong, however it’s not every element that is rustic just a few bits to create a relaxed, natural wedding style.
At the start of Queen Bees, not only were we doing high teas, but we were also creating sweet tables and supplying sweet trees. We even designed a sweet bouquet, although no bride ever took up the offer of walking down the aisle with an edible bouquet!. Sweet trees seem to have disappeared and the trend in sweets is for couples to either create their own sweet table or use a venue cart. It was fun making bespoke tables for clients.
Q. Tell us about your favourite commission.
A. I don’t know if I have a favourite as they are all different and personal to the customer. I have a lot of towers and favours that I love and enjoyed making for such different reasons. If I have to choose one from this wedding season then it’s going to have to be the ‘Superhero’ tower. It was lovely to make bright strong coloured macarons and then to add the logo’s just finished the look. To top it off I was informed that the macarons were eaten within minutes of the tower being set up!!
Q. What do you love about macarons?
A. I just love that from 4 simple ingredient’s you get these delicious almondy meringue little shells that have a crisp outer covering and soft and chewy centre that open up a world of exciting combinations when joined with their flavoured middles.
Q. What do you love about weddings?
A. How every wedding is different… they are happy events to be involved in.
Q. Where do you get inspiration for colours etc?
A. I like trying new colour schemes and combinations alongside the classic colour combos. Often customers suggest colours that are within their wedding themes, or to match certain items. A lot of the towers are based around the flowers, or bridesmaid colours and if navy is involved it’s usually a nod to the groom’s suit.
Q. Where does the name Queen Bees come from?
A. When there were two of us we obviously needed a name to go by. We brainstormed various names, then decided to find words that rhymed with ‘tea’ as a nod to our high teas. We eventually called ourselves Queen Bees High Tea, as in two ladies making food. The name has shortened to Queen Bees with the move into Macarons.
Q. Tell us a little about your personal life i.e. what you like to do when you’re not ‘macaroning’!
A. If you follow my Instagram feed you’ll see pics of either hockey pitches, Starbucks coffee cups or the dog! Family is important and Queen Bees fits around my family commitments. Everyone in the house plays hockey except me! I’m chief supporter, taxi, photographer for my daughters, hubbie and the teams they play for. I’m often fuelled by Starbucks Chai Tea Latte’s, I can’t abide coffee so it’s either a brekkie tea or a Chai that I’ll grab. We have a family Labradoodle who is daft and very loveable. She comes to hockey matches as well as having runabouts on the beaches and fields here at Hayling.
Q. What does the future hold?
A. Macarons are still current, and as long as different colour and flavour combinations are requested by clients I’ll still be making them. Adding printing, logos, hand painting, gold leafing, bespoke wrapping and packaging means I can compete with the big boys, as it’s the bespoke service Queen Bees offers that enables each wedding to be unique and special.
Featured image: Photography by Paloma