"Ice cream has the power to create happiness for every kind of people."
"It is a down-to- earth type of food that everyone, regardless of age, gender or race, can acutely relate with." - Khoh Wan Chin, co-founder of Creamier and Sunday Folks.
Creamier and Sunday Folks, neither brand requires much introduction.
For many of us, Creamier is a memory of friendship and ice cream. Despite the long queues, we'd braved the wait in the cool night air as staff baked up crispy waffles, topped with generous scoops of freshly churned ice cream.
My personal favourite has always been the classy Earl Grey Lavender, but there are plenty who believe the chocolate flavours can't be beat.
Ever since Creamier's debut at Toa Payoh, the ice cream parlour has drawn crowds from all across Singapore. Meanwhile, sister brand Sunday Folks has also carved out a crowd in Holland Village - a cosy retreat from the Sunday heat.
But what lies behind this sweetly successful brand?
We found out.
A Founders' Story
Creamier was first founded in 2011 by Audrey Wang, Khoh Wan Chin and Victor Lim - a venture to fulfil their shared love for creativity.
Prior to Creamier, 'Dessert Queen' Audrey was in advertising before moving on to pursue her passion - baking. Wan Chin and Victor were already entrepreneurs with their own creative studio when they decided to join her to break into F&B.
"[We] are very different individuals with uniquely different skill sets [but] with a common vision for the business and similar values, we run the business with synergy and design-guided principles," says Wan Chin.
For Audrey, desserts have always been a highlight for her.
"I remember buying ice cream after school for just 10 or 20 cents. At home, there would always be sng bao (traditional popsicles) in the freezer. Even now, I'd buy an ice cream when I'm at McDonald's," she told Straits Times.
For Wan Chin, the motivations were a little different.
"Running a happy business excites me," she begins, as she relishes in her childhood ice cream memories.
That's the wish for Creamier, she says, that others can also have the "same memorable happy moments."
"Ice cream has the power to create happiness for every kind of people. It is a down-to- earth type of food that everyone, regardless of age, gender or race can acutely relate with."
A Beginning Less Than Sweet
Although you only see 18 flavours on display, Creamier actually has a stunning 118 flavours in its repertoire - flavours inspired by the food they see and eat, and by the places they visit.
"Our ice cream display is always filled with 18 flavours without repeat. All our waffles are freshly baked with market fresh eggs, our coffees pulled by trained barista."
In order to achieve this, Audrey had to be in at 5am to churn ice cream, while Victor and herself ran operations parallel to their creative agency.
"Labour, rental and equipment failures" were also challenges. Labour especially, as they want to "stay true to handcrafted-ness and make fresh, small batches daily."
The heartland cafe concept was slow to catch on as well, Wan Chin reveals.
It was an "uphill task," she reveals, to introduce freshly churned ice cream versus soft serve and froyo.
"Even today, not many understand that we make our ice creams from scratch every day, including the handmade toppings. When was the last time you ate a freshly made marshmallow?"
"We had very little sales for 8 months, and the learning curve for F&B newbies was steep. But having invested our life savings, we had to grit our teeth, follow our vision and make things work. Right from day one, we never cut corners."
But succeed they did, and Toa Payoh Lorong 1 has evolved from a sleepy neighbourhood into a hotspot of activity.
"We always feel heartland cafes have the potential to mature to the next generation of kopitiams - they reflect the spirit of the neighbourhood. Our district has also become more vibrant due to the rejuvenation of the neighbourhood and more diverse households."
"Creamier couldn't have done it alone."
Adding A Little Sunday-ness
While at Creamier, the team discovered the marvels of freshly churned ice cream (minus 6-7 degrees Celsius) compared to hard ice creams (minus 13 degrees Celsius).
"The taste was simply amazing as a unknown product in the market, we knew we had to share it."
Unfortunately due to multiple restraints, they had to shelve the idea… until Chip Bee Gardens came by with 3x more space than Toa Payoh.
"Given the charm and heritage of Chip Bee Gardens, we decided to create a second brand to give us more room to be adventurous and innovative in our dessert creations."
"Sunday Folks was created to bring the concept of freshly churned premium ice creams and handcrafted sweets to the market," Wan Chin says.
"We want to curate a slow food movement, a little Sunday-ness in your everyday life."
Desserts For The International Crowd
During the re-opening of Shangri-La Hotel at Orchard an Audrey Wang joint creation was also unveiled - the Sea Salt Gula Melaka ice cream with sago and caramelised bananas.
A collaboration between Audrey and Chef Franco Brodini, Audrey reveals the idea was initiated by him.
"One of the heritage desserts of Shangri-La Hotel was Gula Melaka Sago and in Sunday Folks, Sea Salt Gula Melaka ice cream is one of our top selling flavours. Working with like-minded people also creates new ideas."
"There are many delicious and distinctive Asian desserts that are underrated and deserves a lot more accolades. This is a chance for us to share our heritage and hopefully with more exposure, it will be a sought-after dessert in the international food scene."
A Third Outlet In The Future
The next exciting instalment for the team is a third outlet in the Tiong Bahru area - due to open in September.
"The new outlet will be for Creamier, and there will be some interesting offerings for this venue," Wan Chin says conspiratorially. "So look out for it."
In the meantime, the trio plans to ride the surging cafe culture of Singapore.
"The world is our oyster. We hope to become a brand that makes Singapore proud."