Sweet treats play an important role in celebrations. From birthdays to graduation ceremonies and weddings to baby showers, you will always see a cake or two being happily devoured.
“Decorating cupcakes for a special occasion, like putting someone’s name and greeting on top is a growing trend as it is a great way to show your love for your special one,” said Coty Yip, Founder of Twinkle Baker Décor.
Coty got the idea to start Twinkle Baker Décor when she started working in the family business after returning from studying in Australia. The family had vast experience in producing kitchenware and decorative food items, but she wanted to capitalize on the growing trend of home bakers in Hong Kong.
“We used to produce candy toys which we exported to the U.S. and European markets. Then, I came up with an idea inspired by the dessert-loving and baking culture in North America. I realized that Hong Kong needed more shops to support these hobby bakers, as there were only few hidden shops and some high-end grocery stores that sold baking stuff,” she said.
Coty started out selling branded baking supplies and wares for about three years, before deciding to launch her own brand, Twinkle, in 2010. The company distinguishes itself by providing not only the best tools and ingredients that home bakers can get their hands on, but also invites pastry chefs to teach bakers.
“We place a lot of emphasis on design. For example, our signature cupcake lid design is unique and has a worldwide patent,” said Coty. “We have our own design team and our staff are free to contribute their ideas to our designs. They are all young, healthy, creative and happy people so have many fresh ideas.”
For some, cupcakes can be overly rich and sweet, but Coty feels a good cupcake should be a rich, light sponge and the topping should complement the sponge, not overpower it. Consequently, its toppings are light and slightly sweet, and serve more as decoration than flavor elements.
Tools of the trade
The lack of bricks and mortar baking goods stores in Hong Kong – due in no small measure to high rents – has prompted many entrepreneurs to set up an online store with lots of slick PR photos. However, the photos are not always shots of actual products, but stock photos. Consequently, buyers do not always receive the same thing they thought they were buying in the photo.
“Opening our shop was essential to showcase who we are and of course to show customers our tangible real-life product,” she said. “Most of our customers come to us from word-of-mouth, our official website, Facebook, and other social media, so we can save money on advertising and pass those savings onto our customers.”
Twinkle also invests in quality control, food safety and certification to add to customers’ confidence in using their products. Like her father, who has been running the family business for more than 30 years, Coty puts 100% effort into Twinkle and understands the importance of maintaining a good reputation.
“I’ve had to work very hard and overcome many challenges and changed our business model from doing B2B to now focusing on B2C,” she said. “I feel really satisfied doing what I now do and getting direct feedback from our customers. One challenge to growing the business is the high rents, so for the moment we are not planning to open another shop at the moment, but may decide to open a pop-up store if the opportunity presents itself.”
Serving cake lovers
For those who prefer eating cakes to baking them, Twinkle can also produce custom cakes and decorations for every occasion.
“I will make sure every single event is unique and tailor-made to fit my clients’ needs,” said Coty. “One of the most memorable events was a summer campaign that we did for Sky100 under the theme ‘Day and Night.’ That was really successful, because it showcased our designs which in turn attracted a lot of media attention.”
To spread the joy of baking, Twinkle works with charity organizations and also organizes workshops for kids from low-income families.
“I understand that not many people in Hong Kong have an oven at home so this is a chance to let kids make cakes and have fun with baking and decorating their own cupcakes,” she said.
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