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Online Macaron Business Brings Sweet Second Chance To Owner

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Ché Houston has turned her life around. After struggling with addiction in her 20s, she found herself right back at rock bottom in her 40s. The journey through drug and alcohol addiction to clean living helped her realize one thing she absolutely loves to do: bake. 

Today, she runs the popular Atlanta confectionary delight Ché René Macarons & More. The e-commerce and mobile boutique offers not only 40 flavors of delicious macarons but a dedication to the needs of the community. Her goodies are also available in Honey Bubble Tea on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta. 

In addition to baking southern peach cobbler and kravin’ key lime flavors, she maintains her full-time job as a housing coordinator for veterans who struggle with substance abuse.

Photo Courtesy Ché René Macarons 

Houston calls her creations “French macarons with southern finesse.” And at Ché René, each macaron is about storytelling and flavor. She’s been a professional baker for more than a quarter century. However, it’s in this business that all of her stories come together: the cake-making, her southern heritage, and her spirituality. 

The entire company is about creating second chances for people cast out of society or considered “hopeless.” Houston has made the journey from the top to waking up alone in a mental facility, and — now that she’s making tasty desserts for everyone from the Grand Hyatt Buckhead to the Southeast Emmy Awards’ After Party — she wants to make sure everybody else has the chance for redemption.

“I dreamed of being in business for myself since I was a little girl. Through the years, I have always been creative, and this was expressed through art, poetry, and baking. For over 20 years, I side-hustled cakes, cupcakes, and cake slices,” Houston told Forbes. 

Photo Courtesy Ché René Macarons

“One day, I thought about all the southern desserts I love and how I can get the flavor in a gluten-free macaron,” she continued. “Our customers are always surprised at how they can get the same flavor from a plate-sized dessert in a small macaron.”

That culinary journey mirrored her personal one, as her mental health struggles had led her back down a road of addiction in the years before she opened the store. She learned to balance her emotions and take the proper medication, and through a 12-step program, she was back on her feet. 

But opening her business took a team. Houston credits two women for helping her navigate the often-stormy waters of a successful business launch: Carnellia Ajasin of Urban League of Atlanta and leadership coach Karen Hilton of Rock Your Vision. The trio helped find the best way for Houston to run an in-demand macaron bakery while making sure she kept working with veterans struggling with their own demons.

Photo Courtesy Rock Your Vision 

“Lost dreams can be awakened if just one person believes in you. I always say this business is so much bigger than the macaron,” Houston said in Forbes. “God has allowed me to see through His plan of greatness and hope for my future. Today, not only do I get to live my second chance out loud, but I get to create that opportunity for others.

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