With a kitschy-cool name, a refined artisan product and recipes handed down from an old Irish family cookbook, Claire Keane has created a standout business in the already crowded kitschy-cool/artisan San Francisco market.
ClaireSquares brings the city by the Bay handcrafted Irish sweet treats, inspired by Keane’s mother and the recipes they used to bake when she was a child back in County Cork.
“I grew up [in Ireland] baking with my mother every Sunday,” Keane said. “From time to time we would try something new and this recipe was a difficult one to master, so we only made it about once a year.”
But master it she did, and that recipe is now ClaireSquares’ flagship product. A combination of shortbread, which is baked longer than traditional American shortbread cookies, caramel and dark chocolate is ClaireSquares Dark Chocolate, the one item “we always recommend to first time customers,” Keane said.
Keane periodically sold her baked treats in Ireland, mainly to high school friends, but it wasn’t until she moved to San Francisco after graduating college to work as an environmental scientist that she decided to “whip up a batch and start selling them here in the States,” she said.
Baking as a business was simply never a dream for Keane. She claims she mostly did it to satisfy her own sweet tooth. However, things changed when she noticed the overwhelming adoration for her little Irish squares.
“It wasn’t until friends in the States said they had never tried anything quite like them before that I saw it as a valid business,” she said.
The treat’s uniqueness from most other cookies has allowed ClaireSquares to blossom into a trendy, alternative baked goods business with distribution, and satisfied customers, all along the West Coast. And now that ClaireSquares has proven to be a valid business, Keane can’t get enough of it.
“It’s fun to work on the next new product and test it out in the kitchen, but ultimately the entrepreneurial side is much more dynamic and captivating.”
Now that Keane has fully tapped into her inner entrepreneur, she’s not only looking to expand ClaireSquares’ product line, but its reach as well. “We’d like to see our products placed in more specialty food stores outside of the West Coast and ultimately build ClaireSquares into a household name amongst specialty food shoppers,” she said.
Shouldn’t be too hard for a company with a name as sugary sweet as it’s treats.