From owning a successful restaurant in New Foundland, Canada, to starting a boutique bakery in Newcastle, Australia – the story of Mara and Snel is a search for sunshine and sweetness.
Although they dearly loved their late-night establishment in the Great White North, once their family began to grow, the couple decided on a lifestyle change.
A search for a sunny, vibrant community to raise their family (now 3 boys) in was about to begin.
They came to visit Mara’s sister who was studying at the University of Newcastle and once they arrived they simply fell in love.
“We became instantly inspired and excited to raise kids in Newy. We love the climate and lifestyle – it just fits us perfectly!” Mara tells us.
Saying farewell to family and friends, the pair found a beautiful home in Islington.
“We totally love the community feels at Izzo! Its artistically urban, we are close to our neighbours and we know so many people now in this community – there are lots of people with common interests here.”
In 2013, once the pair settled in Newcastle, Snelly started working with Rod Roewekemp in the construction and concrete business while Mara put her cooking skills to use making macarons and cupcakes.
Mara had learned to cook while working on outback cattle stations.
“Cowboys love sugar!” She laughs
The brand FiFi La Femme was born, and the sweets were sold wholesale to local cafes. The pair also got up at 4am on weekends to hold various market stalls around the Hunter.
Those market stalls drew quite a bit of attention, and the people of Newcastle became fans of Fifi!
Not hard to see why.
No longer working with Rod, pouring cake batter (not concrete) is more Snelly’s style these days. Snel is now affectionately known around town as “Mr. Cupcake”.
With a professional bakery in Islington making over 15,000 delicious creations a week, the days of baking until 3am for a 5am start at the markets are behind them – but there are many exciting things to come.
Fifi La Femme recently celebrated its 3 year anniversary, now with 2 shops inside Charlestown Square, regular artisan market appearances and specialty wedding and occasion cake designs.
All with a flair for fun, of course!
“Cakes make people happy,” say the pair, “and that makes us happy!”
“When a customer contacts us after they have purchased a cake for their wedding, birthday or anniversary and tells us what a great night they had, how the cake was fabulous, it almost feels like we are sharing those moments with them.
Those special life moments – that’s an amazing feeling.”