Thinking outside of the box is something Burnt Honey Dessert Co. owners Kara and Fiona Shedden have in spades.  Starting any business can be a daunting experience and this was the case when Kara and Fiona chased their dream of opening a dessert shop in Nanaimo, Canada. 

Beginning in February 2019, Burnt Honey Dessert Company has developed a niche for themselves as an up and coming go-to spot for all things creative in the sweet world. With a strong passion for all things sweet, Kara never thought that baking was a “real job”. With the encouragement and support of her partner, Fiona, who herself had a background in videography and marketing, Kara pursued her dream of becoming a pastry chef. 

Burnt Honey Founders - Kara and Fiona


When they began, Kara and Fiona did not actually believe they had the confidence to pull it off. Although, they had just the right amount of grit and determination to ask themselves, “Why not? Why not open an ice cream shop?” Ask any entrepreneur out there from any sized shark tank and they will often agree that the feeling of, “Why not me?” is common. Every successful business story has one unique aspect of the story; the stuff of legend. Theirs? They opened an ice cream shop during a snowstorm in Canada. The result of their determination to own their own business full of their personality, branding, creativity, and fun? A line out the door on opening day – with folks waiting 45 minutes for the full 7 hours that they were open to get a taste of their new delicious treats. 

Soon, their community rallied behind the new ice cream and macaron shop that regularly displayed their passion for the product by playing with flavors unheard of in the world of macarons and ice cream. Flavor blends like Pineapple Lime Habanero, Doritos Macaron, Dill Pickle Chip, and more can be seasonal and extremely well received. 

Burnt Honey Macaron and Ice Cream

Still, with any growing business, there is plenty of strategizing to be done. Opening up a brick and mortar shop is always a huge undertaking and daunting at best. What they lacked in initial confidence, they made up for in teamwork and mutual support. And for anyone who has built a business from the ground up, there are a lot of speed bumps that come up along the way.  What they didn’t expect, was to honestly document and share their journey publicly through social media.  The unexpected result?  By showing their vulnerability, Kara and Fiona built an authentic relationship with the community – which has turned into a core pillar of who they are as a brand.


The idea was to create some kind of redeemable gift to drive more traffic into the Burnt Honey shop. So Burnt Honey went on a search for something different to engage with their customers in a unique and memorable way. This is when they stumbled upon Toasted Maple. They were excited to find a solution that was not your typical round wooden nickels. Toasted Maple wooden tokens were unique just like their brand.  In fact, they could create tokens in the shape of a honeycomb to align with their branding. 

Burnt Honey Wooden Tokens by Toasted Maple

So with the holidays around the corner Burnt Honey went ahead to order tokens with two offers – a scoop of ice cream and a pint.  Customers could purchase the tokens just like a gift card, but there was something personal about it. There is a lot more excitement to give a gift of a pint or a cone with a token during the gift giving season.  And the feedback that the Burnt Honey team received regarding these little wooden tokens was so good, many never returned theirs to redeem their treat! Customized wooden tokens are more than a discount or free item. For so many loyal customers, they become a keepsake. 


There came a season when the Burnt Honey team wanted to engage with the community on a greater scale. They designed a scavenger hunt that would drive more traffic to their storefront but more importantly, create a connection with their customers that would establish their shop as a community pillar. 

The Burnt Honey team hid these tokens throughout the community, in highly recognizable, popular spots.  The community loved it. 

This marketing campaign strategy ultimately brought in more traffic, a goal, certainly. More importantly, the customized wooden tokens established a sense of community that really is the hallmark of a small, locally grown business that relies on the local farms and vegan friendly ingredients. Gestures and details like these are what sets Burnt Honey apart from the rest.

Burnt Honey Wooden Token Scavenger Hunt



Sustainability and memorability were main highlights for the Burnt Honey team. They thought about how so much waste is created from the billions of customers massive chains like McDonald’s serve daily. While the natural, memorable business imprint on a wooden token from Toasted Maple is so much more sustainable. Good for the environment and unmistakably theirs, Burnt Honey chose to keep in line with their own business culture and brand. 



As a small business you need to be ready to adjust and adapt when situations change. Covid has created yet another challenge for small businesses like Burnt Honey to tackle, but they are keeping positive and adjusting their business strategy with the times. It’s with this positive mindset, and amazing teamwork, Burnt Honey continues to be a staple in the community of Nanaimo.  If you are in the local area, stop by and check out their amazing ice cream and macaron flavors here.

Burnt Honey Sold Out Tokens

If you are looking for new ways to connect with your customers, order your own customized wooden token to uniquely market your business today!