Mary Carmen Jähnke, vegan cheesemaker at Jay & Joy

Dilemma: How to continue to eat cheese, when we are convert to veganism ? It is to this difficult question that Mary Carmen Jähnke confronted herself, who, despite being a native of Venezuela, is nonetheless steeped in culture French. “France adopted me. I couldn’t live in cheese country without eating it! she shouts happily. So I made up with this new equation. »

As the resolute woman she always was, she made her own artisanal cheese in a corner of her kitchen, replacing animal milk with almond milk. The result pleased him, to the point of marketing it and starting a business. Thus was born Jay & Joy in 2014.

A factory and 34 employees

After eight years of curdling and maturing, his SME employs 34 employees, between its factory in Oise and a boutique in Paris. She realized, in 2021, turnover of 2.1 million euros. “We are preparing to raise funds to continue to develop internationally, confides the manager, delighted to have succeeded in having her ten cheeses distributed in seven European countries. They are also for anyone who has problems with lactose intolerance,” says Mary Carmen Jähnke, whose company has a stand at SIAL, this International Food Fair held in Paris Nord Villepinte.

A lighter eye

The mother by Mary Carmen, a former nurse who, through hard work, has become a professor of medicine at a university in Venezuela, never ceases to be surprised by the choices made by her daughter, to whom she has passed on her pugnacity. Mary Carmen, in fact, began with studies in humanitarian law, followed by a first position in a association assistance to refugees. “I locked myself in a dark universe. But we came from a modest background, and that was not paying homage to my parents who wanted my studies to help me see the world with a lighter eye, ”she explains.

She then embarked on a long backpacking trip, from the north to the south of Latin America. Three months to ponder and enlarge your pupils on the horizon of the world. “I saw happy people everywhere, and realized that there were a thousand ways to work and exist,” she recalls.

Manufacture of ballerinas

Back home, she reawakened her buried attraction for fashion and started a small business making ballet flats. But she wanted to go further; but to discover fashion, she saw only one possible destination: Paris.

Working as a saleswoman to earn a living and learning French as she went, she joined the Parisian couture union chamber, then the Ecole Supérieure de trade and marketing Istec, in the management of luxury companies. A small revelation, which, by his own admission, made him discover the 1,001 facets of French craftsmanship and the intelligence of fine manual work.

meditation sessions

For just over three years, Mary Carmen worked on her own for fashion designers as a tendency. At the same time, she also began to meditate, even asking herself the questions: who am I, where am I going, what do I eat?

It was during a session that she met her future husband Eric Jähnke. The vegan lifestyle seemed obvious to them. “Mary Carmen is an enthusiastic, endearing person who is determined to overcome all her fears,” he says. She also has a messy side. But she has made great efforts on this point for the good of her company. »

Engineer and entrepreneur, Eric joined his wife at Jay & Joy. They always meditate together. “It’s a luxury of a rich country to ask questions about food choices”, relativizes Mary Carmen, who remembers her childhood when to earn three pennies pocket money, she sold cookies in the street. “But, she continues, isn’t this also a way of proving to oneself that one has integrated French society? ” Good question…

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Mary Carmen Jähnke, vegan cheesemaker at Jay & Joy

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