I met Claudette for the first time in my own kitchen. My wife Carole had hired Claudette to make and serve her "Waffalloons" for a birthday party brunch. The authentic Belgian waffles she made were a big hit. In fact, I consumed several myself. They are great with strawberries!
Timothy Becker: Claudette, what brought you to Manchester?
Claudette Azevedo: My husband David was transferred from Pratt & Whitney in Florida to East Hartford in 2000. After we moved to Manchester, I took a position with the Hartford Courant as the Circulation call center manager.
Timothy Becker: What inspired you to leave a management position to start your own business?
Claudette Azevedo: I had worked in corporate America for over 20 years and it was time to make a change and do something more creative. I had attended art school rather than college, but I had never pursued any type of creative career. I had always thought of doing something with my mother's waffles because people just loved them.
Timothy Becker: Tell me about your mother and her recipes.
Claudette Azevedo: My Dad, a U.S. Soldier, met and fell in love with my mother Andrée in 1946 in post-war Belgium. She had never traveled out of Belgium and only spoke French. When she came here, among her few belongings were a compilation of her incredible Belgian recipes. I had the original recipes, and lost them in a move from New Jersey to Florida in 1999. Thankfully, my sisters and I had committed all the recipes to memory, since we always helped my mother prepare them during the holidays.
Timothy Becker: How did you name your business and your product?
Claudette Azevedo: I think of myself as a creator of memorable moments rather than the producer of a product. In 2006, I started by opening a home-based floral design business, which I named Andrée’s Creations in honor of my mother. One of my longest standing contracts is with Soft Surroundings at Evergreen Walk, where I provide weekly floral displays. In 2007, I first introduced my Waffalloons at the Glastonbury Apple Festival. Since that time, I spend most of my time marketing Andrée’s Waffalloons. I worked with an attorney to register a trade name for my waffle, and she suggested that I create a unique word that didn't exist. My husband David and I then brainstormed and came up with the perfect name; one that included the product along with my mother’s Belgian heritage. My mother is a Walloon from the Wallonia section of Belgium, where French is the spoken language. By combining the word waffle with Walloon, the Waffalloon was born.
Timothy Becker: At what types of events do you serve your waffles?
Claudette Azevedo: I serve at showers, parties, reunions, corporate meetings, fundraisers and golf tournaments. A Waffalloon bar is the perfect addition to any event.
Timothy Becker: What other services do you offer?
Claudette Azevedo: I offer custom made gift baskets which include Waffalloons, specialty sauces, coffees and teas and are wrapped in a beautiful basket or ceramic bowl. They really do make great gifts for any occasion. Boxed Waffalloons can also be ordered and shipped online via my website: http://www.waffalloons.com/index.htm
Timothy Becker: Do you have plans to franchise Andrée’s Waffalloons?
Claudette Azevedo: I have a lot of work to do before even thinking about anything as big as a franchise. My goal right now is to get the word out. Waffalloons have been featured twice on “Better Connecticut” with Scot Haney. They’ve also been sold at the Connecticut Wine Festival at the Goshen Fair Grounds, as well as at local craft fairs. Waffalloons have also been served at the MACC Fashion Show for the past three years, as part of our continuing support of the awesome work they do in our community.
Timothy Becker: What makes your Waffalloons so unique?
Claudette Azevedo: Andrée’s Waffalloons are unlike any other Belgian waffle you will ever eat. They’re sweet and scrumptious and really do taste best undressed. The Waffalloon’s rich history of far away loves, losses and childhood memories are secret ingredients that simply can’t be duplicated.