There is the old cliché that some people travel to Paris to find love. That actually happened for Northeastern University alumna Kinesha Goldson. But it wasn’t a person that captured her heart. It was a popular French pastry.
“I studied abroad at the American University of Paris in 2009 and fell in love with French macarons,” explained Goldson, AMD’11. “It’s like a gourmet Oreo cookie in terms of construction, consisting of two shells with a buttercream, ganache, or jam filling in the middle. They’re delicious.”
When Goldson returned home, she saw a demand for this type of scrumptious treat that was not being met. So she developed a business plan and launched Cameo Macaron in 2013.
Now, Goldson is looking to harness the same determination she used to burst onto the Boston food truck stage to secure a spot on a global stage: the Miss Universe pageant.
A number of Goldson’s family members, including her parents, were born in Jamaica, and she will showcase her pride for the island nation as a contestant in the Miss Universe Jamaica competition. A win there would punch her ticket to next year’s Miss Universe pageant.
Goldson said winning the Miss Universe Jamaica crown would give her an opportunity to serve as a role model and share what she has learned about business and success with young people.
“As a young, minority, female business owner, it’s important that I impart the knowledge and wisdom I gained from my own experiences on those who either don’t have a role model for guidance or don’t know how to achieve their full potential,” she noted.
There is a public voting component to Miss Universe Jamaica, with the top vote-getter automatically earning a spot in the pageant’s top 12. Voting is open now and runs until Friday, Aug. 28, at 11:59 p.m.
For her part, Goldson said all of the Cameo Macaron flavors are her favorite. But once her pageant training is done she said she’s really looking forward to kicking back with a peanut butter and jelly and passion fruit macaron in hand.
Launching her business
Like any first-time business owner, Goldson said she faced plenty of challenges working to get Cameo Macaron off the ground, the likes of which have never been accomplished.
“One of the biggest challenges I faced was defeating self-doubt,” she noted. “I’ll never be able to fully describe the feeling of doing something no one has ever done.”
Goldson has followed in the footsteps of her parents, who are both entrepreneurs in their own right, and she credits Northeastern’s signature co-op program with giving her the hands-on experience to realize her passion.
On one co-op she worked in the Northeastern University Admissions Counselor’s office giving campus tours and traveling to speak with admitted students, and for another co-op she worked as a public relations coordinator for PUMA.
“Northeastern believed in me and gave me the opportunity to find the perfect fit by way of experiential education,” Goldson said, “and the skills and lessons I apply most as a graduate, like public speaking and winning the respect of my peers, are ones I gained in leadership positions with student groups.”