Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sharon Grewal - Macleod, Founder of Mary Macleod's Shortbread, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Mary Macleod's Shortbread is a woman-owned, second-generation family bakery founded in 1981 in Toronto. We bake all butter and small-batch shortbread cookies and package them into premium packages like cookie jars, tins, beautiful boxes, and clear visual packages.

Tell us about yourself

I started in the banking world 19 years. It was there that I first tried our shortbread cookies, as Mary's son Gary had a friend who worked at my bank and would sell his mom's cookies there each year. I married Gary; it's been 25 years now! And as a family, we would help Mary at her bakery every holiday season, as it was a crazy rush.

In 2010, with our girls growing into teens who needed their mom more and our parents aging, I decided to take over our family bakery and expand it to its fullest potential. Every day I am motivated to build on the legacy that Mary left for our family and our team. I am motivated to improve, solve problems, find opportunities, and make every day worth it—for my team, our customers, our partners, my family, and me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Growing our business ten times from where I started and keeping our artisan quality and our loyal customers.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The weight of knowing that you are responsible for getting it right, as many team members depend on me for their jobs and families' well-being.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be clear on your WHY—what do you and your business stand for and make sure to surround yourself with people who are aligned with your company culture, values, and vision and who are not just there for a paycheque.
  2. Manage your budget tightly as things can go wrong - recession, rising interest rates, Covid, staff who overspend, or are unaware of budget management. Good processes and controls allow you to catch things before it's too late.
  3. Have fun and enjoy the journey; life is too short to be on a ride you hate.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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