Now that she has created an impact in the cupcake market with 16 local outlets for her Twelve Cupcakes confectionary stores, and 25 outlets across Jakarta, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Manila, former beauty queen Jaime Teo has set her sights on carving out a slice of the dessert market and more.
In April this year, the 37-year-old and her husband, Daniel Ong, 38, opened Dulce and Sucre, a dessert cafe in Orchard Gateway which sells everything from pudding to pastries, as well as beverages such as coffee.
The desserts served there originated from the recipes Ms Teo has crafted over the years, but which did not fit into the Twelve Cupcakes brand.
"I like to make things such as loaves, whoopies and tiramisu, but we couldn't find a way to put them on Twelve Cupcakes' shelves," she said.
Ms Teo and Mr Ong, a former radio DJ, opened Twelve Cupcakes in 2011. The venture took off, thanks to a loyal following among local confectionery lovers.
Ms Teo told Digital Life she is working on opening more Twelve Cupcakes stores in MRT stations. She has also made plans for further expansion outside Singapore.
In addition, her business has expanded to other areas. Besides Dulce and Sucre, there is also the diner and bar Rookery, recently opened by Mr Ong.
The joint serves all-day brunch and doubles as a bar at night.
"I give credit to Dan for the growth and expansion of the business. He loves doing business and he doesn't stop trying even if he fails," she said.
However, it is not business all the time for Ms Teo. These days, her four-year-old daughter Renee takes up a big chunk of her attention. She is relishing being able to spend more time with her daughter, compared with when she first started out and was often stuck in the kitchen slaving away at the ovens.
She recounted the early days of her business. "I had no time for my daughter and that made me feel sad," she said.
"You can never escape a mother's guilt. You just feel bad when you're away from your child," she added.
Things are now ideal, she said, as the business allows her time for her daughter, while keeping her occupied enough to ensure that she is not totally closed off from the rest of the world.
Her Instagram is filled with photos of her and Renee bonding - from yoga sessions to canoeing treks.
She is also spending time developing new recipes and cupcake flavours. In addition, she participates in tasting sessions with her team of bakers every other month.
Only the recipes which get her stamp of approval make their way to the serving counters.
"People ask me if I eat my own product. I do, but I exercise a lot to make up for that," she said.
Ms Teo's fastidiousness, when it comes to checking her products for quality, goes back to her beginnings as a self-taught baker. She learnt her skills from the Internet and created recipes based on her personal preferences.
"It may sound self-absorbed, but the things that I like form the basis of my recipes.
"If it suits my palate, I'm sure someone else will enjoy it too," she said.
Just do not ask her what flavour of cupcakes she enjoys baking most.
"That's like asking me to choose my favourite child. I just can't," she said.
This article was first published on Dec 10, 2014.
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