Most friends would feel obliged to give in to one another, but for us, we don’t.
— Serene Tan
They are a match baked in heaven.
Serene Tan is the owner of the Dazzling Café chain in Singapore. Angeline Ng is the founder of Creme Maison Bakery.
Serene was shopping for the perfect cakes ahead of the launch of her cafés about one-and-a-half years ago. And Angeline had the perfect recipes. It was love at first taste.
Although it has not been long since they met, the business-partners-turned-friends are already like family to each other. “We see each other every day. It actually feels strange when we don’t,” one of them says. The other nods.
Throughout our interview, the tag team, who now helms Creme Maison together, would continue to agree with each other and finish each other’s sentences. Their chemistry is palpable. Also, adorable. If you didn’t know better, you’d think they’re sisters or childhood besties.
Despite their obvious camaraderie and how similarly soft spoken they
both are, it quickly became loud and clear that it’s their dissemblance that makes them the perfect partners. Opposites, as they say, attract. And in this maison, it’s the cherry on the cake. While Angeline, an alum of At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, is the creative mastermind of Creme Maison, Serene — with her finance and marketing savvy — is the business brain behind it. (Yes, very Max Black and Caroline Channing.) Together, it really does look like they’ve got their recipe for success at their fingertips.
It was a particularly rainy Tuesday morning at the W Residences when we met for the first time. Any bright ideas we had of photographing the girls eating cupcakes by the pool went out the window. But the wet weather failed to dampen our moods. There were cupcakes (a big box of colourful cupcakes resembling edible flowers — the kind that is so pretty you feel bad for sinking your teeth into them, but you’re glad you did anyway), there were diamonds equally colourful which would embellish necklines and cupcakes during our shoot, and of course, here were two lovely young entrepreneurs, only 24 and 25, telling us all about love — for the work they do, for the men in their lives, for each other — and their mission to bake it till they make it.
In collaboration with The Canary Diamond Co.
How did you meet?
Angeline Ng: We met at a café. Serene was looking for cakes for her own cafés at the time, and she was going around doing tastings. She tasted one of mine and really liked it. A mutual friend introduced us, and the rest is history.
What was your first impression of each other?
Serene Tan: I thought she was very mature for her age. She was very quiet and reserved.
AN: Serene was very outspoken and straightforward right off the bat.
What are three things you love about each other now?
AN: Her loyalty, fearlessness and she’s rational. Very rational. (Haha)
ST: I love that Angeline is genuine, adventurous and very detailed.
How did your love affair with baking begin?
AN: My mother has always been very conscious about what goes into our food, so she loves baking for us. That way, she gets to decide how much sugar and what kind of flour go into our desserts. I must have been about eight or nine when I started baking with her every weekend. That was our mother-daughter bonding session. I supposed that’s where my passion blossomed.
ST: I only started baking when I was 17 when I was studying in Australia. I had some free time outside of class, so I took up short baking courses. I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert like Angeline, I know the basics. Business is more my passion. I grew up in a family that runs a business, so economics and finance are what I really enjoy. I guess it’s in my blood.
Do you remember the first cake you ever made?
AN: Yeah! A blueberry crumb cake.
ST: I made a non-bake marble cheesecake with
my mum. It’s still the best cheesecake I have ever tasted.
Where do you find inspiration, Angeline?
AN: Food magazines, blogs, YouTube, Instagram… everywhere.
ST: She does, everywhere. Like, when she was in Japan and tasted something that wasn’t even cake, she was like, “why don’t we do this for our cake?”
How do you win at business without losing the love in your friendship?
ST: Actually, we rarely have disagreements. I think we just really respect each other a lot, and we are always exchanging opinions before we make a decision. It helps that we are both very straightforward people — when something goes
EVERY FAILURE TAKES YOU ANOTHER STEP CLOSER TO SUCCESS.
— Angeline Ng
You have to believe in what you do. Have confidence in yourself… And know that you’re not alone.
wrong, we speak our minds, offer our feedback and work on constructively solving the problem or making improvements.
AN: Right from the start of our partnership, we’ve accepted that we each have our own forte, and we respect that, you know, and we have our own space to grow. Then it’s really just about helping each other out along the way to keep the business moving forward.
ST: The most important thing, if you want to start something with a friend or someone close to you, is honesty. I think most friends would feel obliged to give in to one another, but for us, we don’t. If you can’t be honest, you can’t help each other or the business improve.
What’s a typical day for you girls like?
ST: I think we both wake up at around… 7am?
AN: Yeah. Around there.
ST: Sometimes 8am. We go to the bakery, get some work done there, we have a quick lunch break, and then it’s just a lot of meetings. Angeline personally sees to the dessert setups as well. Sometimes we work till dinner time…
AN: And we’d have discussions over texts.
ST: All the way to midnight sometimes. Angeline would stay over at the bakery and start work at 4am during peak seasons!
Wow, that is dedication. So what do you love to do outside of work to unwind?
ST: I play the piano. That’s therapeutic for me. I don’t really like pop music, so, when I’m stressed, even when I’m driving, I like to just listen to instrumental, piano music. And my mum and I go to piano recitals quite often.
AN: I like to take a stroll at the beach.
Who is the love of your life?
AN: (Giggles) My fiancé. He’s my emotional support. And occasionally, he helps us with
ST: The love of my life is my dad. I think that whatever I have today, I owe it to him. All the lessons and values I have learned in life and in business, I have learned from him.
ST: He taught me that even though profitability is very important in a business, it is not as important as doing the right thing — like taking care of your team. And to be kind. Sometimes, he says, you get disappointed by some people, but he has never regretted helping anyone. And that’s how we’ve been brought up.
Complete the sentence: Love is…
Other than love and passion, what is the most important ingredient for success?
ST: Perseverance. You also have to believe in what you do. Have confidence in yourself —
and in your partner if you have one. And know that you’re not alone. Love and passion are important because it keeps you going, but you have to work very hard as well.
Who is your role model?
AN: Christina Tosi, founder of Momofuku Milk Bar.
ST: Victoria Beckham. Her creativity and her love for fashion are very inspiring to me. I think it’s amazing how she seems to juggle her career and family life so seamlessly.
What advice can you give anyone who’s going after what she loves?
ST: My father always tells me that there is no failure in life — the only failure is when you give up. I think that’s very good advice. It took me quite a few failures to understand that if you were to succeed in life, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. That’s how you grow.
AN: Yes, every failure takes you another step closer to success.
I love that she accepts me for who I am, and she’s someone I know I can depend on.
Let’s play a game of “things you love the most”.
Movie: Letters To Juliet
City: Zermatt, Switzerland
Piece of jewellery you own: A 4-carat diamond from my mum.
How you love to wear your jewellery: Classy
Outfit from your wardrobe: A gown from Alice+Olivia.
Book: Me After You
Quote: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
Hangout: Home, in my own private space.
Movie: The Notebook
How you love to wear your jewellery: Minimalist
Outfit from your wardrobe: My Sandro dresses
Quote: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
Hangout: The bakery
PHOTOGRAPHY // KARMAN TSE
JEWELLERY // THE CANARY DIAMOND CO
BLACK LACE DRESS (ON ANGELINE) // SANDRO
The Canary Diamond Co is located at 402 Orchard Road, Delfi Orchard.
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