Peggy of 'The Tiramisu Hero'
“It is alright to take the road less travelled and it is important to follow the heart and not over-analyse everything once in a while. Be gutsy!”
Whoever said that you can’t have your cake (or tiramisu) and eat it was obviously lying. The Tiramisu Hero cafe, brainchild of Peggy and Aileen, was birthed forth simply out of their love for tiramisu and has been so successful that they have a franchise in Tokyo - just six months down the road.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing before starting The Tiramisu Hero?
Peggy: Aileen graduated from Raffles Design Institute and was in the finance industry all the way until we decided to start The Tiramisu Hero. I was a graduate from Nanyang Technological University's School of Civil Engineering and was blogging full time when The Tiramisu Hero started. I also had a short stint as Marketing Executive for an online job portal for about a year.
How did you get started on baking and what made you decide to start The Tiramisu Hero?
Aileen's mother is a baking enthusiast and often shared her recipes with us. Our tiramisu recipe is actually from an Italian chef who is a family friend of Aileen's. We usually bake for leisure and our first batch of tiramisu was prepared for my aunt's house warming party. Everyone loved the sweet treats and from there, we were inspired to start selling tiramisu to other dessert lovers.
How did the name ‘The Tiramisu Hero’ come about, is there a story behind it?
We knew we wanted to be a tiramisu specialty store, and started brainstorming on a brand name that was suitable. The name came about because we were watching the TV series "Heroes" at that time and thought "The Tiramisu Hero" would be cute for the cat mascot we had in mind.
What were the risks involved when you were starting?
Like in every business, we were worried that our concept would not appeal to the public and that tiramisu might be a little too "traditional and old fashioned" to Singaporeans. So plunging into a tiramisu-specialty store was a risk on its own already. There are countless cafes littered all over Singapore and we were worried that we would not be able to stand out and differentiate ourselves.
How many people are there in your team and could you describe your team briefly?
Other than Aileen and Peggy who oversee the overall operations of the cafe, PR, marketing and development of the brand, the team also consists of an Executive Chef who takes care of everything kitchen-related, an Operations Manager who oversees the ground operation in the cafe and a Business Development Manager who is in charge of recruitment and the online aspects of the business.
What do you feel are the misconceptions people have about setting up a business and being your own boss in Singapore?
The biggest misconception is how people always think that the bosses in every company just sit at home and shake their legs. Truth is, the bosses are the ones stressing out the most, the ones who lose most sleep and hair, the ones who (quoting another entrepreneur friend of ours) "experience being busy in its purest form".
How’s a normal day at work like, and what do you like to do in your free time?
Aileen and I train ourselves to be able to do every single person's job in the cafe - barista, cashier, chef, serving, dishwashing, plumbing, managing of suppliers, etc. When nothing crops up, we would normally be seated in a corner of the cafe, on our laptops doing administrative work. If our team needs help, we transform ourselves into whatever they need us to be!
How has feedback been like since starting The Tiramisu Hero?
Feedback has been varied, from encouraging ones that reassure us of our concept and quality of food and service and also harsher ones when we were first starting out as operations were not as smooth as we had hoped for. But those were the feedbacks that showed us the way to improve. We are happy to say that now, being six months old, feedback has been constantly good.
And what do you have planned in the future for The Tiramisu Hero?
We currently have a franchise in Tokyo and we hope to be able to start leaving our footprints in more cities all over the world. We also aim to constantly come up with more flavours for our tiramisu, to continue to improve customer satisfaction at our cafe and build on our brand to have more merchandises carrying our brand's mascot, Sir Antonio!
What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt in life so far?
It is alright to take the road less travelled and it is important to follow the heart and not over-analyse everything once in a while. Be gutsy!
And what is your advice for people who want to pursue their passion but have no idea where to start?
Never lose sight of your goals. Travel, look around, meet and talk to more people because every place and every person has something to contribute and something to teach you. If someone wants to have a go at entrepreneurship, I'd say go all out and fully commit yourself to building the dream. But it is also very important to have someone more experienced to give good advice, and to point you in the right direction.
If the world were to end tomorrow, I would...
If the world were to end tomorrow, I would spend all the time I have with my loved ones and makes sure no one dies hungry.