Brno Expats Have Talent: Mariana (BR), a confectioner

We introduce a new article series: Brno Expats Have Talent!

While most public events have been put on hold for a long time and it seems that no one does much – there are no concerts, performances, happenings or exhibitions – the people who have art and creativity as part of their lives are still here.

A day job, a family, and generally the effort of maintaining some level of ‘normal life’ are probably the order of the day, but that doesn’t mean that their talent has been frozen too, or that it shouldn’t be known to the world around them, even if ‘invisible’ during these strange covid months.

Therefore, we decided to highlight those people who live among us here in Brno and feature an interesting creative side.

And, while we might not be able to see them live, bring a small snippet of their art to you through a short video. In the coming months, we will bring you interviews with people from various fields – musicians, creative artists, dancers, performers, designers. We hope you’ll enjoy this series! Feel free to drop us a line with your feedback or suggestions of people or fields.

And now, here comes the first one, very fitting for this ‘sweet’ time of year!

 

MARIANA PARAIZO RIBEIRO (Brazil) – confectioner

Baking in Brno. Watch a short introduction:

How long have you been practising your art? How was it visible in your home country or previous place of stay? 

Ever since I can remember, decorating, baking cakes & sweets has always been a constant in my life.

It’s a part of Brazilian family tradition to get together to cook and bake sweets. We are generally “sweet tooths” and enjoy strong flavours! Out of all the sweets, the most iconic one is the Brazilian Brigadeiro. It’s like a small round piece of candy made of chocolate, butter and condensed milk and a reason for dispute among families and parties: There’s always that auntie or grandmother that professes to make ‘the best brigadeiro’ unleashing long lasting challenges to which we all benefit from!

I’ve always had this dream of selling the best quality Brigadeiros and in order to support this dream, I started designing and selling cakes.

I started DULCEDO in Portugal in 2019 and it was a success! Portugal loved our gourmet Brazilian sweets. Nonetheless, due to many circumstances, we moved to Brno in July this year and I put my plan into practice again. I started with cake design and the outcome was beyond my expectation! Today I have many cake orders and I’ll relaunch my birth company DULCEDO before this Christmas here in Brno. I hope it has the same outcome as it had in Portugal.

Is it your main source of income or a hobby?

I’d say both! As a housewife and a mother of four little ones (the oldest being 5 years old), this job suits our family dynamics to perfection. I have time to take care of the little ones and in between, bake cakes and brigadeiros to sweeten other people’s lives 🙂

How do you find living in Brno as an expat and artist?

I’m astonished by how supportive this community is. I started posting online about my cakes and the response was beyond what I expected. I’m having many orders and everyone is so kind. What’s best is the feedback I get for all my creations, and I strive to build from the negative feedback as well!

Is it easy to practise your art here, what obstacles did you face?

Overall, it was quite easy to ‘start-up’ as the initial support from the community boosted my momentum.

My biggest challenges reside in acquiring the right ingredients for my creations. Specially face to face in cake shops, the language barrier contributes to this. Dealing with my children, at the same time is also another challenge but one I find amusing and interesting to see in their development as well. I mean who doesn’t want to grow up in a house that smells like freshly baked goods every day!

My final challenge is the legalisation procedures. Due to the language barrier it can get quite complex, but I feel very supported specially by Brno Expat Centre to finalize what I’m aiming for.

How different is the audience/clients/market in the CR compared to your home country?

It is very similar. Cakes usually suit any community (in general), as it is a reason for rejoicing and celebration. I have clients from many backgrounds, ages and interests.

Where do you find inspiration? Did Brno/CR bring any new inspiration to your art, what/who was it?

Thank God for the Internet! I find inspiration with the best bakers and cake designers I can find.

I have always been connected to Art having specialized in Arts during high school and pursuing a career in Contemporary Dance during university and in my 20’s. Having travelled the world through dance (USA, Australia, Brazil, etc) I was able to transport this experience into baking.

Here in the Czech Republic, I’m very much looking forward to Christmas so I can try the Czech sweets as a form of inspiration, Oh! And the weather here! It can influence some of my designs (ingredients, colour palette, etc) as opposed to the places I have lived in previously.

Do you cooperate with other expats or local Czechs in your activity?

I have only been here in Brno for a few months and most of my customers are expats, mainly since  I only promote myself in foreigner Facebook pages (which is enough to keep me busy). But the word is slowly spreading, and I was able to work with (before the pandemic lockdown) religious group events, Brazilian community groups and of course the Brno Expat Centre (10 years anniversary event). I also like to source the local community for ingredients as it keeps me in touch with the local street markets and people… And the best way to brush my Czech skills. Everyone is very kind and the expat community here is the strongest I’ve found compared to other countries I’ve lived in (Portugal, Australia and Brazil).

How can you practise your art now, in the strange covid times?

With appropriate measures in place, I believe people can still celebrate a birthday or a special event in their household. Or even sink in a small cake while indulging in a movie with your loved one(s) over the weekend. That has been my target with people.

As to personal measures, my family has been in isolation as well. My husband has been doing home office since we arrived in July, we withdrew our two oldest children from kindergarten. I take extra care when baking cakes and specially handing over to clients. These precautions give me confidence to guarantee safety to my family and my clients.

What did you choose for your live input of this article and why?

As much as I’d like to invite everyone to come and taste my cakes, here’s a small visual presentation for now – perhaps someone will be tempted to contact me afterwards, and I’m looking forward to it!


Photo courtesy by Mariana Ribeiro, Baking in Brno

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