The French equivalent of House of Cream, Creme Maison has gained a cult following for its signature floral cupcake bouquet, which is crafted entirely out of buttercream!
Constantly pushing the boundaries with bold, innovative flavours such as bestsellers Matcha Salted Egg, Raspberry Lychee Rose and Earl Grey Lavender, the brand places a strong emphasis on using only fresh premium ingredients. With a strong emphasis on R&D, Creme Maison seeks to not only introduce refreshing, innovative flavours, but also options for the health-conscious.
LadyBoss spoke to the co-founders Angeline Ng and Serene Tan on the challenges and motivation behind Crème Maison. The synergistic partnership between Angeline and Serene came about when Serene embarked on a blind cake tasting spree to find the best tasting cakes in Singapore. What began as a casual meeting evolved into a partnership with plans to expand and introduce Crème Maison to the Taiwanese market.
Q: Tell us about Creme Maison Bakery. How long you’ve been doing it, and who your clients are?
A: Creme Maison started out in 2014. We are known for being the pioneer local bakery to launch the signature floral cupcake bouquet, which is hand-piped individually from buttercream. Moving forward, we started bespoke services for customised cakes for all occasions. We eventually ventured out to OEM* services and mass production for restaurants, hotels and cafes. 70% of our customers are F&B establishments such as cafes, restaurants, event organisers, and MNCs who are purchasing for commercial usage. The rest of the 30% of our customers purchase our products for personal celebrations and events.
OEM*: Original Equipment Manufacturer –what this means for Creme Maison is that it is the production of artisanal treats from scratch for clients
Earl Grey Lavender, Rose Lychee Raspberry are definitely our top selling flavours and also our personal favourites.
Q: What are your popular flavours and cupcake bouquet design?
A: Earl Grey Lavender, Rose Lychee Raspberry are definitely our top selling flavours and also our personal favourites. The best-selling bouquet design would be our Cupid bouquet. The colours of the roses reflect all colours of the rainbow spectrum.
Q: Speaking of innovation and R&D, how do you stay ahead?
A: We are able to produce artisanal and unique products that do not just look pretty, but also taste great, every single time. This is only possible due to our investment in constant R&D (Research & Development), stringent process of QC (Quality Control) and a customer-oriented operation. Angeline has always been the brain of the business when it comes to Research and Development. She will gather inspirations of different taste profiles from all walks of life. It always amazes the team how Angeline is able to create quirky yet delicious flavours.
Q: What are some of the future consumer trends you see in your clients?
A: Staying ahead and keeping ourselves in check of market trends is important, however we do believe that consistency is top priority. Besides aesthetic novelty, we also see innovative local flavour pairings, single ingredient trends like Salted Egg, and also the trend of being bite-sized, as it is easier to consume desserts. Besides products, we also see the uprising trend for more bespoke customization, personalised experience and lesser lead-time.
Q: What were the challenges you faced starting Creme Maison?
A: We started out with a 1000 square ft. baking studio that can only produce up to 100 cakes daily. With increasing demand yet limited storage, we find it a challenge to meet demands at our current baking studio during peak periods and special occasions. It has always been our brand philosophy to be consistent in maintaining the quality of products that we delivery.
Maintaining quality has always been a challenging area in our business. Most of our products are handmade and highly dependent on the strength of our workforce.
Q: How did you overcome challenges and obstacles?
A: If there is a fixed measure put in place during these situations, it would be maintaining a staff-friendly SOP system and a motivated workforce. Our team is always our best asset, if you can make them happy, they will make your customers happy too.
We wanted our cakes to taste as well as it looks. The natural and positive word of mouth is something that cannot be bought. We have to do it right and be dedicated.
Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your clients, and what works?
A: We were lucky enough that we gained a lot of support from friends and family when we first started out. I would say we have to stick to our promises and continue to do a good job. We wanted our cakes to taste as well as it looks. The natural and positive word of mouth is something that cannot be bought. We have to do it right and be dedicated.
With emerging growth in digital marketing, we reach out to our target consumers through sponsorship activities as we realise it is more effective than other paid marketing tools. Over the years, we have sponsored and collaborated with social media influencers, international and regional fashion labels as well as traditional print and digital platforms for their events, anniversary or special occasions. By associating our brand with people that has access to the right audience we want to attract, we will be able to boost our brand positioning. Through sponsorship activities, we will be able to better showcase our upcoming collections and our product attributes.
Q: Where do you see the future of Creme Maison? Any plans in the near future?
A: We are in the midst of expanding to our central kitchen/baking studio this year. The central kitchen is expected to increase productivity to meet the growing demands locally. Getting halal-certification will be something that we are working concurrently on. As well as growing locally through bespoke customised cake and wedding orders, we hope to introduce new to market features on our e-commerce platform with an interactive user experience.
After operating Creme Maison for 3 years in Singapore, our team is now ready to venture into different markets. By Q4 2017, we will begin operations in Taiwan – a first step to penetrate the Chinese market. In 2018, we will begin to set up our branch in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Q: As entrepreneurs, what motivates you personally?
Serene: The right partnership. It is definitely not a first time for the both of us to engage into a partnership but I do believe that the key to success would be choosing the right partner. It is important to align our objectives and goals for the business. I always believed in seeking commonality and appreciating differences between partners, this is where we could both value-add to the business on the areas we are good at. We are both very honest and open with each other and embrace the different management styles we adopt. Fostering a strong and trusting partnership is also beneficial to our personal growth. It is a constant motivation through life if you love what you do and whom you are doing it with.
Angeline: Passion and the daily drive to achieve our shared goals knowing that we are very compatible working together. Choosing your own destiny, know what is your purpose. Chart your way and be focused on your end goal. During initial talks, we clearly knew that we have a shared chemistry on where we would want to see our brand grow in the near future. We have similar personalities and skills that can complement and support one another, which is a vital aspect to form a mutually beneficial partnership. The comfort and ease that your partner encourages you to stay focus even during challenging days is a constant motivation.
Q: What would be your advice for Gen-Y entrepreneurs keen in starting a business?
Serene: The Gen Y of today must realise and grasp a stark reality. Starting a business is no means an easy feat in today’s globalised society. The society is saturated with ideas and whatever that could be done has been thought of already. The key crux is to think about the future – find out what the society needs instead of following current trends. It is especially pertinent to keep ourselves in check and find out how our business will stay relevant in support of this need. Think outside the box and not conform yourself to a rigid train of thought – in today’s world as long as your idea works, anything goes.
Angeline: Don’t let dreams be dreams. Start small somewhere, put out your best, be dedicated, hardworking, give sincerity in customer service; stay true to your goals and principles.