Bitch Biz: Olivia Macaron and Bitches Who Brunch are partners. While this article was written independently by Bitches Who Brunch, we do receive compensation from the company.
Ana Claudia Lopez de Khoury, founder of Olivia Macaron, left her job in the corporate world to do one of what was most important to her: spend time with her daughter, Olivia. To our delight, this also opened an opportunity for her to start her own business. Together, she joined with partner and Chef Michel Giaon, to perfect, as she describes, the art of making the macaron. The bright French treats are as delicious as they are beautiful.
When she’s not brightening Washingtonians’ days with her confections at her Georgetown shop, she can be found around town with her two children. We sat down with her to learn about the technique behind our favorite dessert, launching her own business, and kid-friendly brunches. Keep reading to see what she had to say.
You had a job working for Freddie Mac. What made you step out and start your own business?
I started working at Freddie Mac, but then I had my daughter Olivia and she is the main reason why I stopped working. I just thought that I was spending all my days working in a cubicle when I could be spending time with my daughter doing something fun. I decided I was going to take a sabbatical and then the possibility of opening up my own business came up. I thought about what would be great in D.C. and was drawn to making macarons. I met my partner Michel and he was making these amazing cookies so I approached him and the rest is history.
What made you decide on the macaron business?
I wanted to do macarons because they’re just so beautiful and such a wonderful treat. They’re so artistic and versatile, so you can do so many beautiful things with them. It makes the store a place to be happy, which I wanted. I also wanted to be in the front of the customer and to offer them a great product. But mostly, the beauty behind macarons is what caught my attention.
There is a lot of mix-up between American macaroons and the French macaron? Can you clear this up for us?
The only similarity they have is the word; otherwise they’re completely different things. We sell the French macaron, which is meringue, egg whites, almond flour, and sugar. Then, we fill them with a ganache or buttercream, depending on the flavor. The American macaroon is a coconut confection. So, other than the name they have nothing in common although, we do make a coconut macaron.
(Macarons are gluten-free, Bitches!)
We love when women follow their passion and start their own business. What was the hardest part? What advice do you have for women contemplating the same move?
I think, in all honesty, the hardest part was being taken seriously. When I would approach a potential vendor or landlord, they wouldn’t take me seriously and they thought maybe I should start baking these from my house and give them to my friends, when I really wanted this to be an amazing business. Keeping my spirts up was very hard when a lot of people turned me down. It’s my dream and people don’t understand the passion I have behind the business. If you’re serious about your dream, don’t let other people crush it. Also, if you decide there’s something better, don’t get stuck on an idea just because it was your first one. It’s always a good idea to change your mind. Keep your morale up when people say no or turn you away or make fun of your idea. The most important thing is to always keep your spirits up.
We see so many pastry and dessert trends like the cupcake and the donut. What do you think is coming next?
Well the macaron of course! Also, it’s funny that a lot of people are trying macrons for the first time, but they have existed for almost 100 years when they were invented in France. They’re becoming more popular now, but they have been around for so long. I think people will start appreciating the artistry and beauty of this product, which isn’t the case with any other dessert. Anyone can make a cupcake, but not everyone can make a macaron. It’s an art.
Where is your favorite place to brunch in town?
I love brunch in D.C. because there are so many good places. My favorite right now is Boqueria. I’m a big fan of Spanish tapas, so I love that place. I love that they’re kid friendly, too. When you have two babies you have to go to places that are going to be patient with you and they’ve been great. I also love Le Diplomate; it’s so fantastic going there.
What is your favorite dish to cook for brunch?
It has to be chilaqueles. They’re fried corn tortilla chips that are baked in a tomato salsa and sprinkled with cheese and topped with a fried egg. Oh my god, that the best brunch ever. I love making that on Sundays. That’s the Mexican in me talking.
Do you prefer to brunch in or out?
I prefer to go out, definitely. All the way out. Again, with the kids it’s a disaster, so I’d rather go out and leave a nice tip for whoever had to serve and clean up after us.
What brunch item do you have to order if it’s on the menu?
I’m always a sucker for the Eggs Benedict, so that’s always my go to dish when I go out brunching.
Do you prefer Bloody Marys or mimosas?
Why not have both? One of each, please!
If you had to invite a group of local celebrities to brunch, who would they be?
I would love go to brunch with the Bitches Who Brunch. I need a place to Bitch.