When the first ingredient is butter, you know the end result is going to taste good. But there’s another ingredient in Michelle Williamson’s toffee that makes the flavors unique.
“I have a couple of alcohol infused toffees and that’s what kind of sets me apart from everyone else,” Michelle says.
She adds Jim Beam Maple (Bourbon) to her Maple Bourbon Pecan Toffee... And there’s Bacardi Dark Rum in her Honey Dark Rum Toffee.
“Mel’s actually stands for me, I’m Michelle, and I have two daughters, Erin and Lauren,” she explains. My husband Glen, he’s the silent partner. We couldn’t fit that G in there… sorry glen,” she says with a chuckle.
When their daughters were little, Michelle quit her job in cardiology to stay home with them. As they started school and she had more time, she began a chocolate company out of her home. Eventually she settled on toffee. But because Michigan’s Cottage Industry law limits how and where you can sell food made in your home, in 2014 Michelle took the next step.
“Within five months, I had all my certification, my license, my logo, and I was ready to go on store shelves.”
She now cooks out of this commercial kitchen in Rochester Hills where she also mixes up flavors like Chocolate Peanut Butter, Sea Salt Pretzel, and one called Plain Jane, which is gluten free and nut free.
The many hats of an entrepreneur
Like many startups, Michelle wears all the hats, CEO, baker and marketer. She’s landed her toffee in close to 20 stores now, including a couple locations at Detroit Metro Airport. After her first year, she began turning a profit.
“The first year you have a lot of startup costs. Last year I more than doubled my sales, and this year, I’m already off to a huge start. I’m way ahead of where I was last year,” she says.
It’s sweet success for a mom who hopes she’s teaching her daughters the value of hard work and perseverance.
“If you have something that you like, stick with it," she says. "Even if you're having difficulties, stick with it. Life is highs and lows, you have to just ride with it.”
She’s clearly on a high right now.
“I am, and I hope it lasts a long time.”