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Conversations with the Inspiring Kendall Mathews

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kendall Mathews.

Kendall, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started m2 Confections mostly as a way to work for ourselves. In the professional cooking world, getting your start is tough, and the day to day business can be extremely demanding of time and energy. My husband and I saw m2 Confections as a way to make a name for ourselves and take back some of our lives that have been overrun by high stakes, demanding industry. There’s a tremendous amount of start-up cost, time and effort involved and the margins tend to be relatively low, but we wanted to make a go of it. We had the experience and the skill — I have been a professional pastry chef for 15 years — so we started small.

Initially, we started with a cottage food concept with very specific and limited offerings, which wound up being successful, though challenging. We ended up deciding almost two years ago to just go for it, and put our money where our mouth was and started the business in earnest. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have supportive family and friends who have helped us through all of this, whether it be taste testing (always a difficult task, haha), packaging and even helping out at events. We’ve had our ups and downs, and navigating food sales is always tricky, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have received accolades along the way, most recently with having won the “Grand Champion” prize at the Colorado Chocolate Festival in May.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Haha, I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as a smooth road with running a business, but we’ve done what we can to move past any issues. Costs are always a tough thing to approach, because even as a small business we had to put up several thousand dollars in money before we sold even our first item, and we had to spend several thousand more before making a profit. And navigating some of the expectations of our clientele was interesting as well — we got our start really by participating in craft fairs and art shows. Most of these people aren’t exactly looking for chocolates at a show. We had to do a bit of editing of our wares to target what was actually being demanded by the public. At the first couple of shows, we worked hard to make great “vendor friends” and contacts who we could support, and who support us — in a lot of ways, its all about who you know and the community you build. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a good fan base and a very good reception in the community, which has allowed us to thrive!

I think the best advice I can give is to make a plan and stick to that plan. And also, counter-intuitively, always change the plan, haha. Building a business from scratch isn’t a race, it’s a marathon, and the ability to roll with the punches as you get hit with one unexpected expense after another is important. For me personally, I’ve never been very good at rolling with the punches, so this has been a huge learning curve, and one I still struggle with sometimes. Try to have somebody to talk to when things start to go awry (and they will inevitably) – this is where having a great vendor community comes in handy! Have a realistic idea of your budget and understand sometimes you just won’t be making a ton of money. This bleeds into your personal life — as a business owner, particularly as a female business owner, you will hear a lot of advice on what to prioritize. It’s up to you how much time and money to invest in your business, don’t let someone else make the call.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into m2 Confections story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a premier confections company operating in the Denver Metro area. We make candies, caramels, truffles, and other sugary treats! We specialize in seasonal chocolate bonbon pieces which I try to design to be locally appropriate, seasonally flavored and unique in construction, texture or otherwise. Every single truffle that we produce is hand-painted by me! This company is the result of years of work and decades of experience in professional foodservice, which gives us the leg up over most of the competition. This is the only thing I have ever done — desserts and baking. This experience, in places like New York, Chicago and even right here in Denver, has shaped our creative vision and allowed us to continually innovate.

We’re probably most known for our French Toast Candy Bar- which also happens to be the very first recipe we ever tested and created! This candy bar features caramelized white chocolate and handmade maple candy — plus a hint of cinnamon for good measure. I think I’ve probably said this a thousand times at this point (haha), but it tastes just like french toast without the bread!

I think as far as our brand goes, I’m most proud of our reputation. We have been graced with wonderful fans who give us the best feedback — such beautiful and kind words! — and we are known as the ones who will do the job. We strive to provide impeccable customer service — if we mess it up, we make it right. Plain and simple. I think that our customers see this, and hopefully, know that we legitimately care about them getting them the best product possible.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to speak up. It is regrettably common — I’m not sure if it’s especially so in the food industry, but it’s common for sure — to have women in the kitchen split into two camps; we’re either generally portrayed as mousy creatures, easily broken and fragile, or as these wicked tongued devils. Like, there only are two choices for a woman in the industry, either be a pushover or a b****. And it’s sad. Thankfully, most of what I have been a part of in Denver has been supportive, but there are always those who will condescend to you as a woman. So, you have to speak up. Be assertive. Don’t allow others to belittle you or say that you’re wrong. Women tend to be scrutinized extra hard for what we say and how we act, so don’t give them any leeway. If you are skilled and capable, eventually you will be noticed and respected as the one who gets things done and the one who always follows through, which in the age of efficiency is a powerful thing. And when you get discouraged by the inevitable circumstance of being held to an impossible standard, rise above it and take yourself out of the toxic situation — find your greener pastures. Just remember, persistence is key, and you don’t have to be one of the guys. Just be yourself.

Pricing:

  • Variety of candies — from $3 to $9
  • Bon Bons and Truffles — from $10 to $28
  • Candy Bars — $6

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
all photos were taken by myself, except for the candy bar photo, which was taken by my sister- Devin.

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