Lately, it’s become common to see young enterprising individuals go out into the world and try to build themselves a successful business creating things that today’s discerning market can appreciate.
From hand-madeleather wearables to goods made from recycled materials to food itemsmade using high-grade ingredients, there have been an increasingnumber of these local brands started by these ambitious youngentrepreneurs.
One such individualtraversing this route is 24-year-old Madeline Lew, a Business andCommerce graduate from Monash University Malaysia who decided topursue a baking career in addition to her weekday occupation as abanker.
To be exact, Madeleine runs a home business called Macarons By Madeleine that offer artisanal macarons made to order, and markets them to most central areas within the Klang Valley, including Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, and Selangor.
Her prices start atRM42 for a minimum order of 12 undecorated macarons, but rise to RM60for customised, hand-painted pieces. For delivery, she charges aminimum of RM5, with prices differing based on location.
“I’m stillpersonally delivering them, so there are limitations on which areas Ican reach,” she explained. “But recently, I’ve been exploringdelivery platforms as I hope to reach a wider audience in thefuture.”
Madeleine explainedthat she got started baking macarons after getting taught how to makethem by one of her buddies.
“I’ve a closefriend—Lynn—who has some culinary skills, and she just decidedthat one day we’d meet at her place and she’d demonstrate how tobake macarons,” she explained. “I saw how she did it, and evenwithout having any hands-on experience at the time, I thought tomyself ‘hey, this seems pretty easy!’, and that was that.”
But for a few monthsafter that, Madeleine never made moves to use her new-found knowledgeuntil the beginning of 2018 when she wrote down her New Year’sresolutions.
“I jotted down in my journal that in 2018, I wanted to bake macarons as birthday gifts for my close circle of friends, because what could be a better gift than something hand-made right?” she revealed.
So after a period oftrial and error—20 tries over a couple of months to be exact,Madeleine eventually got the hang of macaron-making and proceeded tocreate her business account on Instagram in mid-August of 2018, aptlynaming her new brand Macarons By Madeleine.
Madeleine said thatshe now uses her businesses not only as an income platform, but alsoas an avenue where she could showcase her creativity.
“I wanted MacaronsBy Madeleine to be a platform where I present my creativity—art cancome in many forms and for me, it’s expressed through adding somecolours and designs onto the typical meringue-based cookie.”
True to this statement, Madeleine differentiates her offerings from other cafés and bakeries by adding all sorts of designs to her macarons. These designs range from floral patterns and cute illustrations to letter designs and custom messages, and have so far been successful in drawing attention from not only individual clients, but corporate ones as well.
Madeleine explainedthat she got educated in beautifying her macarons mainly throughonline tutorials and having Lynn give her critique through WhatsApp.
“I did not attendany proper macaron-making classes, but I searched a lot online fortutorials on YouTube,” she said. “Trust me, there’s tons foryou to learn—if one video’s method or recipe doesn’t suit you,move on and try another video tutorial.”
“As for mydesigns, I got my ideas mainly from Pinterest and Instagram.”
Any Demand Is Good Demand
One of the concernswhen it comes to food trends like these is longevity, with sometrends able to stay evergreen while much more come and go in theblink of an eye.
Addressing theseconcerns, Madeleine expressed that she felt there would always be aplace for macarons in Malaysia despite there not being crazy hype ordemand for them.
She admitted sheunderstood that compared to brands such as Tealive, macarons wouldprobably never hit such levels of popularity—which by all accountsis fine by her.
“To be honest, Inever saw macarons as a huge thing in Malaysia compared to otherfamous trends such as bubble tea,” Madeleine said. “I would evensay that there’s a portion of Malaysians who are prettyhealth-conscious and deem macarons or any other sweet desserts assinful to consume.”
But despite this,she said there would always be some demand for food products likehers, mainly due to the fact that people always need options forspecial occasions.
“Demand-wise, Ifeel there is always an occasion or function,” she said. “I stillget enquiries every now and then, and they’re almost always orderedas gifts for someone special.”
As proof of this,Madeleine revealed that on one such occasion, she received an orderfrom a corporate client for 1,000 boxes to be used as door gifts fortheir event.
“It wasn’t an easy order for me, but I’m truly grateful for the help I got from my friends, and especially my mom since she helped me from the start.”
Steps To Expansion
Looking ahead,Madeleine is currently facing two distinct challenges in trying togrow her business—labour and logistics.
For labour, sherealises that eventually her business will need more hands on deck,and as such is considering bringing in another individual to help hermanage growing demand and expectations.
“In terms oflabour, you don’t hear the term ‘freelance baker’ in the sameway other industries can easily hire freelancers to complete a job,”she said. “For bakers and bakeries, you usually need to hiresomeone permanently to grow your business, which I’ll definitelyconsider in the future.”
As for the logisticsportion, Madeleine hopes to be able to expand her delivery reach toaccommodate larger orders during high seasons and also extend beyondthe Klang Valley to perhaps places such as Singapore.
“For 2019, myplans are to overcome the challenges mentioned above as well as to domore collaborations to boost brand awareness,” she said. “I enjoymeeting other talented local entrepreneurs—getting to understandand be inspired by each brand’s story is also one of the funelements whenever I approach them to collaborate.”
Feature Image Credit: Macarons By Madeleine