Music has always been a core component of alumnus Gerald Guilbeaux’s life.
Starting a business from scratch takes dedication, hard work, and perseverance. Alumna Heather Degeyter has been working to build her small business from the ground up—one macaron at a time. Degeyter ’12 ’15 is currently the owner and creative director of Bonne Vie Macarons, a specialty macaron and dessert shop located in Lafayette, Louisiana. Her dessert store offers many treats, including cream tarts, cosmic brownies, and even edible cookie dough. As a thriving bakery owner, Degeyter can’t imagine her life without her shop. However, her journey to success was filled with twists and turns that led her here today.
Originally from Lafayette, Degeyter decided to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to stay close to home. As an undergraduate student, she was heavily involved with fitness. She taught aerobics, Zumba, and yoga at Bourgeois Hall and wrote the fitness column for The Vermilion. She finished her undergraduate degree in English and later pursued a master’s degree in English literature from the University.
After finishing her graduate degree, Degeyter began teaching college English classes. Her career was going well, and life was great for her. Then, she got an idea that changed her path. “I first got the idea for Bonne Vie Macarons the summer after my daughter was born,” said Degeyter. While preparing for her daughter’s first birthday party, Degeyter thought it would be a great idea to make macarons as treats for the party. She’d never made them before but knew that it couldn’t be that difficult. It turns out—it was. Degeyter spent the rest of her summer perfecting her macaron recipe until she could make them with her eyes closed. Bonne Vie Macarons was born, and she began selling her creations out of her tiny kitchen at home. Quickly, her side business began to grow. So, she decided to leave teaching, open a store, and start a sweet new career.
Even though Degeyter has seen great success with her business, her journey has not always been easy. “Learning the back end of a business has been the hardest [part] of owning a business,” said Degeyter. Thankfully, she had some help. She turned to the Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) at UL Lafayette for guidance on navigating uncharted waters, like taxes and payroll. “I am forever grateful to everyone there,” said Degeyter. Most recently, Degeyter had to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like many other small businesses across the country, she wondered how she would be able to make it through this crisis. Thankfully, her community was there to support her. “Our Lafayette community and clients rallied behind us, and we worked through [this] really strange time,” said Degeyter.
As for the future of Bonne Vie Macarons, Degeyter has some big plans. She hopes to increase her production space and possibly add some more store locations in Acadiana. She even envisions one day being able to ship her delicious desserts nationwide. In the meantime, she’s excited to continue this journey as a business owner, and she hopes that she can inspire others to follow their passion as well.
Photo Caption: Bonne Vie Macarons owner, Heather Degeyter (left), Bonne Vie macarons (right)