Their meeting looks like a fairy tale. 3 weeks after seeing each other in Lille, Raibed and Fatiha get married and set off on a world tour. From their experiences, springs a bright idea: to create a cookie ball, a new form of inexpensive snacking. After mass distribution and their commercial site, they are attacking the whole world.
” You have to be careful, otherwise it will burn out, explains Raibed Tahri to his wife Fatiha. Lower the temperature! “. In their Evires factory in Haute-Savoie, the two nurses are immersed in “their small business which is not experiencing the crisis”: the production of cookie balls. An idea so bright that it has received several awards (Start Up Contest, Best Franprix Innovation, etc.) even though the Covid-19 almost won them!
Initially, the couple who have returned from years of traveling receives a request for a marriage. ” Can you make us cookies from all over the world? “. With their cookbook in hand, they embark on the adventure, but it is from the sight of a caramelized popcorn that Pap et Pille will be born. ” I didn’t want to make gazelle horns which are always too big in my opinion, says Raibed. We wanted to be original. A cake that is easy to eat, like snacking. This little popcorn was there between the two of us and we thought it would be nice to have this cookie format. We laughed about it with Fatiha and we spent several days there. We managed to fill the order by doing everything by hand. It took us days and nights. The bride and groom and guests are delighted. Requests are pouring in but the couple are unable to keep up. They need to think about improving their manufacturing process, as their accountant will tell them when their company is created in February 2019.
100% French production
” We called everywhere in France and abroad. No one could make cookie balls. We had to think about real machines that could help us supply. »At the end of 8 months, and with the help of a brother, engineer at PSA, the result is conclusive. The biscuit balls come out of the freshly created factory. To succeed in the adventure, the couple put their house up for sale, invest 20,000 euros in capital and 250,000 in investment in the manufacture of machines. An agency helps them find their name: Pap and Pille. On the menu: gazelle horns, Brazilian coconut or Turkish hazelnut. Like Michel and Augustin, they want their brand storytelling to reflect their personalities. “We wanted there to be characters who look like us. We wanted to share our story with as many people as possible. “
A story that begins 35 years ago in the Doubs for Raibed. From Algerian parents and of modest condition, studies are put forward. ” These are values that my illiterate parents instilled in us. I was there very young with my mother in the kitchen. The question of gender did not arise. I liked to prepare food so that I could share. Even today when I’m not well, I go to the kitchen. It allows me to clear my head. “
After his baccalaureate, he began a nursing school for 3 years. For the last year, he needs to raise some funds. He becomes a waiter before going into the kitchen. He liked it so much that he acquired a CAP Cuisine. With his two diplomas in hand, like many cross-border workers, he will work in Switzerland. His choice: the prison environment with the population of Arab or Maghreb origin. It is this job that will push him to give a training in Lille that will change his life.
Love at first sight and travels
The sky is low that day in the North and Raibed, well prepared, begins to share his experience. And there, a Cupid’s arrow hits him! “ A girl in the front row drove me crazy. It was like an electric shock. At the break, we talked about it and she had the same feeling. 5 days later, he proposed to her. 21 days later, they are married and off to their first trip to the Dominican Republic. In roots mode, they meet a family who teaches them how to make coconut cookies, typical of the island. ” I really like the concept of staying with locals. The perception of the country, its culture and its gastronomy are incredibly instructive. “
The pace of travel becomes frantic. Two months of interim as nurses and 1 month of tramping. The destinations follow one another: Great Britain, Morocco, China, Thailand, Brazil, Seychelles, Quebec, Turkey, Japan, India, Mexico,… From these trips, they come back with a well-stocked recipe book. Stranded at home before their child arrives, Fatiha and Raibed provide meals until Pap and Pille emerge.
September 2019, Raibed picks up his pilgrim staff. He walks and manages to place his snacking in Leclerc, Super U, Intermarché and Carrefour Provencia. The Franprix brand notices them and they become innovation of the year. Always ahead, the Tahri are working on savory compositions. With nearly 10,000 euros per month in order, everything seems to be working and the future seems serene to them. When suddenly, the Covid-19 disturbs this exponential increase in sales.
Saved by digital
” Overnight, no more orders. Zero! The supermarkets have stopped everything. I had all the deadlines on my hands and no way to repay. In addition, Fatiha has to take care of her family during this time and Raibed is called back to the front lines as a medic. He catches the Covid and the future looks bleak. It is digital that will get them out of the torpor of the moment. A digital agency promotes them, relaunches their digital site and it finds the turnover before coronavirus. Their Instagram reaches 10,000 followers and people (Laurent Wauquiez, Moundir, Vanessa Demouy) promote their products. They are also preparing cooking workshops with Meet My Mama which will soon be broadcast on the web.
The business seems to take a second breath with a monthly turnover oscillating between 20 and 40,000 euros monthly. They are opening up the overseas departments and territories but also internationally. Betting on a fundraising of 400,000 euros, the Tahri couple say they are proud of this French product which only asks to conquer the world.
Yan Labêche is a journalist for FranceSoir