Words by Candy Tee
St Kilda- Where It All Began
“Voyaging makes you realise that no matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn.” ~The Voyager Online Magazine.
To many, a holiday is a journey that one takes, when one can simply take no more. It can be an adventure for some, and other times an enriching opportunity for self-discovery. For Christopher and his wife Bee Leng, their holiday to Melbourne in 1999 was an inspirational spark to their baking journey. When they first set eyes on the alluring cakes on display at St Kilda’s bakeries’ shopfront windows, they knew they have found a common dream. But like all dreams, it was just a visualisation at that point, as each of them had respective jobs and responsibilities they could not disrupt.
A Turning Point Presents a Surprising Opportunity
It was only until years later that changing circumstances allowed the couple to seek an alternative career. As self-taught bakers, they had heaps of uncertainty but they decided nonetheless to brave everything and “resurrected” their dream of running their own bakery.
The couple left the corporate world soon after and started experimenting by baking from home for friends and relatives. Through their invaluable feedback, the duo refined their products through countless rounds. Bee Leng also attended the Professional Bakery Course by Chef Judy Koh of Creative Culinaire to further affirm that they were ready for their own bakery. Finally, they were ready to launch Bee’s Cake in 2012.
Hitting the Sweet Spot
“One key principle shone through during our 7 years in the business: It is very important to get the taste and texture of the cakes and pastries right. That when tastefully presented, brings much joy and satisfaction to our customers,” revealed Christopher of their key to success. With this principle, Bee’s Cake has been successfully broadening their customer base with their growing but proven repertoire of Gourmet Cakes and Tarts.
Even though Bee’s Cake is located in a less than prominent location in Upper Serangoon Road, Bee Leng performs the entire baking process herself and utilises only quality ingredients to churn out delectable gourmet pastries that give premium bakeries a run for their money.
Bee’s Carrot Cake
Amongst their creative and tantalizing menu, their signature Bee’s Carrot Cake, is the pioneer cake that they have carried with them since the beginning of their journey.
The recipe of this humble cake had been fine-tuned to suit the local taste buds, which gives it a unique edge compared to your average carrot cake. Needless to say, Bee’s Carrot Cake not only reigned number one in demand, it even converted die-hard fans out of customers who hitherto have no idea what a carrot cake even was.
Gula Melaka Pandan Cake
Another choice that is promptly gaining popularity is their Gula Melaka Pandan Cake. Customers are presented with a mixture of distinctive textures, but at the same time, the cake is not cloying like most gula melaka pastries.
Their gourmet tarts are also an all-time favourite delights which never fail to perk up the occasion or become a conversation piece. They are also popular gift ideas for birthdays, baby full month celebrations, “Guo Da Li” (Chinese tradition of delivering gifts to the bride’s family before the official wedding) and even as a gift of appreciation.
Putting a Foot Forward To Confront Upcoming Challenges
Looking into the future, the husband-and-wife team is expanding Bee’s Cake to serve their growing pool of customers. Bee’s Cake is looking for the ‘right employee’ with a value system that matches Bee’s Cake’s vision. “It is not easy especially when you are dealing with young employees who come from a different generation where instant gratification is the norm. They may not be prepared to spend time honing their skills and work themselves from the bottom up. We are hoping to tap onto e2i’s Place-and-Train programme and hire local employees that will make a meaningful and productive contribution to our business expansion,” expressed Christopher.
Apart from manpower issues, Bee’s Cake is also on the uphill task of establishing a firm footing in the industry. “It is no easy feat when you try to create a brand name for yourself, especially when you are a newbie in a crowded market. How should one go about doing it with limited resources?” shared Christopher of their immense efforts to position themself as a niche player in the intense baking industry. Caught between the good-old Word of Mouth marketing and riding on the Digital or Social Media Marketing wave, Bee’s Cake decided to choose the former, coupled with targeted social media marketing strategy using Google Ads and the Facebook Ad. So far there has been rewarding results, and the couple is determined to spread joy to many through their passion.
Just like how their beginning started with a journey, it looks like Bee’s Cake is set for yet another challenging journey ahead.