About Cake Love
Cake Love manages to hold its own on Jalan Pisang, a street where you see concept cafés popping out every now and then. Enter the store, and you’ll be greeted with splashes of bright colours and retro furniture. This is a fresh breath of air from the industrial-chic cafés that we have been seeing around.
Cake Love started out as just a humble bakery selling takeaways and customised cakes. Since then, Raiha, the owner of Cake Love, has moved on to greater things, like opening her own Halal café this year.
In the lead up to Café Fest, we will be introducing some of the cafés featured during the event. Earlier this week, we did a review of the desserts at Cake Love. In our interview series, we try to learn more about the people behind these cafes. We spoke to the effervescent Raiha about Cake Love, who made the café seem like an extension of her personality.
On Cake Love
TSL: Hello Raiha! First up, tell us more about Cake Love.
Raiha: We started off selling customised cakes, takeaway cupcakes and macarons. Basically, we were more of a bakery. We were doing that for four years before Cake Love became a café. In fact, we only started the café in February.
TSL: Can you share with us the inspiration behind Cake Love?
Raiha: We wanted something fun and something that you don’t usually see in other cafés. We also didn’t really want to go down the industrial, rustic-chic road that most cafés were heading towards. This way, Cake Love can be a place for both the young and the old.
TSL: What were you doing before Cake Love? Did you have any prior background in F&B?
Raiha: I was studying Mass Communications in Australia. I actually learnt about baking from the lady I was staying with in Australia. She was doing wedding cakes and in Australia so she would ask me to help her sometimes. When I came back here, everything just fell into place, so I started Cake Love.
Last year, we were on an 8-episode show on Suria called Cinta Kek. It was actually modelled after shows like Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes. It actually showed us creating cakes, like a big 3D motorbike cake. It was more of a semi-reality show - the cakes are real but the stories got a bit… twisted. They attracted the audiences by telling people that it was a family business and that it was run by my cousins and I. But actually it’s run by me alone. We didn’t pay them to do the show for us, so they couldn’t use our actual store name. Otherwise, it would have been paid advertising. Because of that, we had to follow whatever the script said. The show made us seem like one big happy family running the shop.
It was hard after the show because people came into the shop expecting that it was real. But we couldn’t tell them that it is not. If we did, they would feel cheated. We had to play along until the hype died down then we’d tell them that my cousins were not working with Cake Love anymore. The cakes and the orders which came in were real, and my cousins did come to help me run the shop at that point of time. But the portion about it being a family business was not.
TSL: So what was the transition like, from the shop selling takeaways to the café you have now?
Raiha: Previously, we were at Buona Vista selling takeaways, doing customised cakes, wedding favours, cookies, all that sort of things. That went on for about 1 and a half years. After that, I wanted more traffic. I also noticed that there were not a lot of people who can do customised cakes. If I were to do everything alone, it’d be very tiring. There’s only so much you can earn from doing that. We found this place, and at first, it was the same thing - having a takeaway counter.
We had the kitchen, and the fridge at our door. Then people became more aware of our brand and our location. After the show, I decided that I wanted to do something which is more challenging and less tiring. Wedding cakes are actually very tiring to make. We still do them, but not as often anymore.
TSL: Are there any upcoming plans for Cake Love?
Raiha: We were approached by Big Box, a mega-mall slated to open in Jurong. They saw our concept and they liked it. So they asked if we wanted to go on board to set up a cupcake and macaron shop in their lingerie department. It is a fresh concept, so I thought, “why not?” That will happen in December.
TSL: What is your most memorable cake / most memorable experience since Cake Love started?
Raiha: I actually just got married recently. I currently run the shop with my husband. He only came in some time after the show, when I was building up the café.
TSL: Congratulations on getting married! I see that you guys do more than just cakes and have expanded to food as well. How do you balance these two?
Raiha: We still want to focus on our desserts. But we noticed that sometimes people come in expecting hot food because this is a café after all. So we tried to bring in things like our Rock-a-fella Burger and Ham & Cheese Waffles. So we dabble a little here and there.
There are some days where people come in and just order hot food all the way. They don’t buy the desserts! But there are other days where people come in just for our desserts. So inventory-wise, it is quite a headache. But we’ll see how it goes.
TSL: What can cafégoers and cake lovers expect during Café Fest? Anything special up your sleeves?
Raiha: To be honest, we have no plans yet. I haven’t thought of it yet, especially since this is fasting month. There are not a lot of people coming in because people are also very tired when they’re fasting. So my priority now will be to think of we’re going to make money to cover up our losses during this period. There are a lot of things coming up for Cake Love. Even though we don’t have any concrete plans, we obviously do want to focus on our desserts.
TSL: What are your thoughts on Singapore’s café culture and scene?
Raiha: I think it is growing very fast. The industry is very small. Recently, I found out that one of the owners of the café nearby is my university school mate. I just got to know of another café which just opened down the street and I realised it was run by my secondary school mate. It’s kind of strange actually.
The people who are in this business must really have the passion to do this - to serve the best coffee or do the best at what they do. It is actually very cool to see different cafés with different concepts. For example. The 7th Cylinder, just across the street, is a motorbike-themed café. Likewise, Artistry has a very artsy vibe, with people playing music.
When these cafés open, I don’t see them as competition. In fact, I’m always thinking “come, more cafés please”. Sometimes we are not even aware of the other cafés here. Occasionally I’d drive past and notice a new café. They probably don’t know we exist either. I think it’d be great if all of us work together to bring out the café culture of this area.
TSL Rapid-fire Questions
TSL: If someone was here for the first time, what is one item they MUST order?
Raiha: Macarons! Any flavour would be great.
TSL: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Raiha: Chocolate Cream Pie.
TSL: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 15-year-old self?
Raiha: Study for your O Levels!
TSL: Fill in the blanks. If you were not running Cake Love, you’d be _______ ?
Raiha: A journalist.
TSL: Favourite thing to do in Singapore?
Raiha: Shopping. Boring, right?
TSL: Cakes or Macarons?
TSL: Which is your favourite café or restaurant to go to? Other than Cake Love that is.
Raiha: There are not many that I go to now, since I don’t have the time. But I like Sushi Airways.
TSL: What is one motto that you live by?
Raiha: Never say die.
TSL: Any word of advice for budding café owners?
Raiha: Have patience and perseverance. Don’t give up!
TSL: If there were no restrictions, what cake would you like to create?
Raiha: A really really big croquembouche. It is a traditional French wedding cake which is basically a tower of cream puffs. It actually means “crunch in the mouth”.
Cake Love is one of the 12 cafés participating in the Café Fest. For more information on Café Fest, visit their official Facebook page.
This post is part of TSL's pro-bono coverage for the upcoming Cafe Fest where we decided to help put the spotlight on cafe culture in Singapore.