When Jessica Fritz served a fruit tart with marzipan filling, people raved.
So when she couldn’t find the marzipan on P.E.I., she became concerned.
Then she became inspired.
“Why can’t we just bring it to Canada — starting with P.E.I.?”
Jessica and Mike Fritz have since launched Maritime Marzipan, which sells treats made from the tempting smooth mixture of sweetened ground almonds.
“Everybody loves sweets, right?” says Mike, standing in the couple’s new summer shop at St. Peter’s Landing.
The couple’s love of food helped prompt their move to P.E.I. Jessica not only enjoys cooking, but also writing about food and exploring foods from other cultures.
“I somehow infected Mike with that,” she says.
The Island also promised a more relaxed lifestyle. Jessica, who has a background in marketing and the pharmaceutical industry, and Mike, who worked as a banker and an entrepreneur in technology and retailing, moved from Germany to Toronto in 2010. Though they liked the vibrant, multicultural atmosphere of Toronto, they started to long for space: a place for a vegetable garden, a workshop, a pet dog.
“You can’t afford any of those things really in Toronto,” Jessica says. “We didn’t want to move into the suburbia of the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] and commute two hours back to work. So we said, ‘Why don’t we go live by the sea?’”
They bought a home in Goose River on P.E.I.’s north shore in 2016.
Though the couple wanted to start a food business, Jessica describes discovering the marzipan niche as a bit of a “fluke.” Further research revealed that this treat common in European confections and baking was scarce and pricey here.
“You can buy marzipan as a treat, but it’s really expensive because it’s usually imported from Germany,” Jessica explains.
After getting their business idea, the couple needed a recipe. This time, it was Mike who headed to the kitchen — testing mixtures and offering samples to friends and neighbours.
“It was a lot of experimenting to get the right texture, the right amounts of ingredients,” he says.
The couple officially launched their marzipan confections at Charlottetown’s Victorian Christmas market in 2017. At the start of the weekend, Jessica feared they might not sell any of the treats that filled their truck. Instead, sales went so well, they had to ramp up production.
“By Saturday morning, 2 a.m., Mike was back in the kitchen,” Jessica says.
Maritime Marzipan now sells its marzipan confections — many coated in Belgian chocolate or flavoured with Island-sourced products like coffee or sea salt — at a variety of shops, online, and the summer location in St. Peter’s.
Mike still makes the marzipan, while Jessica handles marketing.
Why choose entrepreneurship?
“I don’t like having a boss,” Mike confesses. “I mean, I still have a boss,” he adds, looking toward Jessica with a smile. “I’m the boss in the kitchen,” he concludes.
Since the couple got married and launched their business all in 2017, they have not yet found their slower pace.
“We moved here to stare at the ocean for hours and hours,” Jessica says. “Somehow, we don’t do that.”
Still, they now have their home by the water, their pet dog, and a business tied to their passion for food.
“It’s busy, but it’s fun,” Jessica says. “You can make someone happy with something you make.”