American Express has been encouraging customers to Shop Small® with a national marketing promotion that puts a spotlight on small retailers, restaurants and service providers. One of those small businesses is Mary’s Brigadeiros.
If you haven’t heard of brigadeiros, you’re missing out. The chocolate truffle-like treat hails from Brazil, the home country of Mary’s Brigadeiro’s founder – Mariane Arruda de Oliveira (Mary). On a trip to Canada in 2012, Mary took note of how hard it was to find chocolate shops, and that gave her an idea.
Once she was back in Brazil, she came up with a plan: She would learn all she could about running a business, the art of chocolate, and this one particular Brazilian treat that’s an emblem of her country — the brigadeiro. Mary moved to Toronto in 2014, and in 2015, opened Mary’s Brigadeiro – continuing the Brazilian tradition and bringing these sophisticated and bold flavours to Toronto.
As a part of the Amex Shop Small program, which gives eligible Cardmembers a $5 credit when they spend at least $10 with their registered Card, at up to 10 different participating businesses, Mary’s Brigadeiro understands the importance of supporting local. During the pandemic, they shifted to an entirely digital operation. “We are watching closely to see how the city reacts to stage 3 before we open our doors back to the public,” explains Mary.
Without a storefront, having a loyal base of community supporters is incredibly important. Mary elaborates: “We were fortunate enough to have a strong online presence since the beginning as we invested in a webshop before we even open our first store, so we used our space just to produce our chocolates and ship them to all Canada. As the demand grew quite faster than we expected we were able to offer same-day deliveries to Toronto and GTA, more promotional items and new products to our clients finish at home as a new line of products.”
Redirecting their marketing efforts and messaging to ensure customers understood their pivots to a digital format were essential to keep the business afloat.
“We drove all our marketing efforts online as all our clients were there,” says Mary. “We wanted to be there as well, showing them what we do and bringing a smile to their faces with our chocolate creations; this was our way of ensuring that they received the same experience they had in our store, but now at home or even as a gift. We also shared a few of our most popular recipes and tips to drive more traffic [to our online store] and people loved it!”
To get a better understanding of how it’s so important to shop small and support local, we sat down with Mary for a quick Q&A:
How important do you think it is for Canadians to support local and small businesses (especially during COVID-19)?
Canada’s small businesses are the driver of our local economies and if we don’t receive the support we will not survive.
We truly believe that more and more Canadians are becoming conscious of where the products they use come from and with that they are seeing the necessity to support small business owners. It means the world to us and the truth is: we always do a little dance when they shop local especially now during this unpredictable time.
Can you speak to how your operation has been involved in the local community?
The power of the community has provided us so many great lessons especially now during this time. We are always involved in local events and try to support charities and donate as often as we can. Recently, we created a special chocolate collection and donated the profits to St. Michael’s Garron Hospital in the East End of Toronto as we truly believe if the area is well engaged, together we will all be stronger.
As a participant of #ShopSmall, can you speak to your experience so far or any of the results you’re seeing or hoping to see?
People are reaching out to us because they are seeing the campaign and getting more engaged with the #ShopSmall movement and they are seeing the importance of supporting a small business.
We noticed an increase of visitors and shoppers in our online store from around the country and clients keep saying they purchased from us as they saw the campaign.
It’s also been amazing to read all the comments from customers and fans when they saw us in the Amex campaign around the city, it’s much more than supporting a local business, it’s about how we are representing them and in my case, being a black woman in business matters a lot.
To read more about Mary’s journey to opening up her own business, head over here.