Cafés and dessert shops are popular hangout spots for people of all ages. There’s nothing quite like ice cream and coffee on a sunny afternoon – what more when it’s of the homemade sort.
Creamier Handcrafted Ice Cream & Coffee and Sunday Folks are no strangers to the café scene in Singapore. Despite the long queues and wait-times, customers flock to the cosy outlets for a whiff of the handmade ice creams (and delicious waffles).
To understand the success behind the café’s operations, we reached out to Khoh Wan Chin, co-founder of Creamier Handcrafted Ice Cream & Coffee and Sunday Folks.
How It All Began
Creamier was first founded in 2011 by Khoh Wan Chin, Victor Lim and Audrey Wang. The enterprise sought to fulfil their vision and passion in the business.
Previously, Wan Chin begun her entrepreneurial journey by starting a design studio business. In 2001, she and Victor started Trine Design Associates.
“The 1997 and early 2000’s economic crisis opened my eyes to the instability of employment”, Wan Chin states. “With youth and optimism, I started the design studio partnership with Victor when I was 24 years old, and I have never stopped running the business since”.
The beginning of Creamier was a fated intention – being in the right place at the right time. Wan Chin mentions that for her and her partners, they stumbled upon an empty shop which seemed like a perfect location for an ice cream café.
Beyond that, it was acquaintance and now-partner, Audrey, whom Wan Chin credits as the baking extraordinaire. It had been Audrey’s childhood dream to have an ice cream shop, leaving her keen to the idea when posed by Wan Chin.
For Wan Chin, however, it was a call to be answered. She shares that “there was a desire to head off on another adventure, which, in a way, was still related to design.”
In 2011 – in a tiny corner – in a quaint little neighbourhood – in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 – Cremier Handcrafted Ice Cream and Coffee was born.
3 years later, the Sunday Folks would be named as the younger sibling to Creamier, where the emphasis on freshly churned ice creams would take center-stage.
The Concept [restrict]
“An ice cream business is a happy business!”. Wan Chin is delighted in sharing that sentiment with us. At the very core, Creamier and Sunday Folks aim to provide a friendly neighbourhood space that people can enjoy. That vision is matched equally by the quality of their ice creams. A picturesque definition sees the concept decorated with ornaments of sweet memories and simple pleasures.
No preservatives, no additives, no cheap tricks. Sunday Folk’s freshly churned ice creams are held to a high standard by both consumers and creators. It is this aspect of their business that delights customers and keeps them coming back for more.
Wan Chin states that the reason behind this is because the flavour is also a major part of the company’s objective. Despite being an uphill task to make, the freshly churned ice creams are what sets them apart from other businesses in the café scene.
“When we started Sunday Folks, we wanted to introduce a completely new type of ice cream to the market– freshly churned ice creams – which basically means ice creams that are churned on the spot upon order. The look may be like a low-cost soft serve, or soft ice cream like McDonald’s, but the product quality itself is completely different.”
A major highlight for the business was when Creamier was featured in Louis Vuitton’s Singapore City Guide. The inclusion of their small business was an honour and a wonderful achievement for their hard work.
Over the past 7 years, both Creamier and Sunday Folks have grown to become popular hangout spots for Singaporeans looking to fulfil their sweet-tooth cravings.
Facing The Music
While the vision of Creamier and Sunday Folks has persisted as an easy–going one, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Wan Chin. She claims that venturing into the F&B industry was a challenge for her. It was a jump from her design business into a completely new industry, so there were gaps in her knowledge regarding the shift.
She admits that for her, it was a very risky decision to move into the F&B business. However, with an open mind, progress and success became attainable goals.
“Keeping an open mind, reading and doing as much as possible, finding mentors to learn from – these were what helped in overcoming these obstacles.”
Managing internal and external factors are still a crucial aspect of her managerial style. Being a hard driving boss, she highlights how decisions aren’t always easy, but always have implications.
Internally, managing employees is a challenge in its’ own. As a boss, she is required to provide opportunities for her staff to grow in their career. This involves grooming and helping them to achieve their best potential.
Externally, she is required to meet standards set by their customers. Running an F&B business with a small consumer market is the reality for many small business owners like Wan Chin. “The niche is getting crowded. Without a USP, it is extremely hard to sustain a successful dessert business concept”, she says.
Besides the business, juggling the work-life balance is part of the hustle. She states that with her current routine, she only averages about 5 hours of sleep a night. However, she expresses gratitude for her family – their unwavering support has been a major encouragement to running her business successfully.
Today, Creamier has 3 outlets and Sunday Folks has 1 outlet, all in Singapore. Their success persists as an inspiration for other small businesses in the F&B industry. While the journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing, the hard work of Wan Chin and her partners shine through the businesses.
The success, evident by just a simple Google search, TripAdvisor, Burrple and HungryGoWhere all hold high ratings for both Creamier and Sunday Folks. The quality of their freshly churned ice creams has been a focus for the business, and the reviews show nothing less than that.
Looking forward, Wan Chin is optimistic towards the growth of her businesses. Although she does wish to “go off on another adventure” eventually, she expresses hopes for expanding her current businesses to an international market.
With a final word of advice, Wan Chin shares,
“there will be moments of anguish and despair that drive you to have such thoughts (giving up). Having the responsibility to make things work will see you through these moments. Do what you fear, life is short”.
Visit Sunday Folks at 44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-52 Chip Bee Gardens, Singapore 278116
Or, prefer delicious handcrafted ice creams, coupled with robust coffee? Drop by at one of Creamier’s multiple locations here.