The most rewarding thing is when you get to see what you’ve build from scratch growing bigger, stronger and seeing your the team expanding
– Li Ping, Founder of The Buttercake Factory
This was by far the sweetest interview we’ve ever done! We mean literally sweet as we speak to Li Ping, who is a Cake Designer and the Founder of The Buttercake Factory. Nestled in Mont Kiara and in Penang, The Buttercake Factory specialises in producing fashionable buttercream designed cakes, custom made petite desserts that are suitable for parties, events as well as corporate gifts.
Originating from Penang, Li Ping was trained in Business Management and was in the Banking industry prior to starting her cake business. She is a self made woman and self-taught home baker, and we absolutely admire her for her courage and finesse.
1. How did this desire of having your own cake business come about?
Li Ping: Well, this was definitely NOT something I thought I would be doing, it all started by accident! When I first moved to Kuala Lumpur and was in corporate banking at that time, I soon realised that life here was more fast paced. The culture and people here are rather aggressive and realistic, and I was having a hard time adapting. Therefore, that got me thinking, if only I could run a business that would allow me to connect with people at a more friendly and genuine level.
What got me inspired was when I watched “ The Billionaire” – a Thai series on how the founder of the brand Tao Kae Noi actually build his business through hard work. Through that, I realised that food is a perfect platform to connect with people.
2. What was your inspiration to step out?
Li Ping: Being a dessert lover myself, I find that there are a lot of cake shops with fancy flavours available in the market. However, I was having a hard time finding simple, fresh and plain butter cakes and that’s when the whole idea struck me!
Going back to basic and selling just simple butter cakes! Therefore, I started with that and soon, due to high demands from clients to design fancy cakes, I decided to pickup more skills and get inspirations from Youtube and social media. Needless to say the rest is history.
3. Do you consider yourself to be a creative person?
Li Ping: Yes, I do consider myself to be a creative person. To me being creative is not just about being able to create something ecstatically attractive or to be artsy fartsy, it also means to be able to solve problems and come out with solutions in a different and extraordinary way to create an impact.
4. Being Asian and going from banking to baking, was it hard to find support from your family?
Li Ping: Oh it was definitely HARD… I would say it was impossible to get support from my family initially. I didn’t have the courage to tell them that I quit my job, mind you I was only in banking for 3 weeks.
I knew they would be worried for their little girl. I only broke the news to them after 3 months into the cake business, and when the business was starting to stabilise. They were initially shocked, but by then, they have had a glimpse that I was going somewhere, so they had no choice but to give me their full support.
5. What do you find most rewarding in pursuing your creative life?
Li Ping: The most rewarding thing is when you get to see what you’ve build from scratch growing bigger, stronger and seeing your team expanding. From a home baker to now owning a creative studio, that is definitely a milestone for me. We also conduct classes, host workshops and most importantly, I get to have more flexibility with my time and be my own boss!
6. What were some of the challenges you faced getting to where you are now?
Li Ping: It has been 3 years since I’ve started this business. 2 years home-based and during June last year we moved into this studio in Gateway Kiaramas, Mont Kiara. We also now have a branch in Penang.
Some of the challenges that I faced was when I was baking at home all on my own. It was very hard to have my time off work and having personal time because I was literally stuck with work 24/7. Also, when the enquiries kept coming in, and I have to bake, reply messages, and deliver cakes! It was so hard to manage everything when you are only one person.
Being alone you can go very fast but you cannot go very far. That’s when I realised that to build a business it is impossible to do it alone. Teamwork, proper planning and being able to calculate risk is essential to grow a business.
7. How are your cakes different? How do you deal with competition?
Li Ping: There are definitely way more talented bakers in the market and every other bakery or cakes are unique in their own way. However, it is very important to be able to create an identity that differentiates you from other brands.
I always believe that every business has their own target market and there are so many fishes in the sea. As long as me and my clients have faith and trust in the brand and what we are doing, there is no need to be afraid of other competitors in the market.
8. How did your team come about to join you?
Li Ping: My teammates came about joining The Buttercake Factory when I first posted up jobs on my Instagram page and soon after that we arranged for interviews. I am a strong believer in the Law of Attraction, where we attract and draw the same kind of energy and people. Also, having a certain kind of chemistry between the the teammates is something that is essential for me.
9. How do you define success for yourself and for your team?
Li Ping: I would define success as waking up being able to feel grateful for what you have achieved. To me success is about constantly striving and achieving new heights. I always love to challenge myself by setting higher targets each time I’ve accomplish a current one.
For my team, success is when I see my fellow team members actually progressing and improving themselves, not only at work but to be a better individual.
10. Can you tell us how do you come up with the designs of your cakes and other offerings?
Li Ping: Usually, the designs of our cakes are inspired by our daily life factor. If client sends us a picture and want us to create a similar cake, we try not to execute an exact replica, instead we will put a touch of our creativeness and our identity to the design.
11. What can we expect to see from you moving forward?
Li Ping: Moving forward, we are looking into expanding to other states in Malaysia such as Johor Bahru and Malacca. If everything goes according to plan, we will be looking into expanding to other countries as well like Indonesia, Vietnam and Hong Kong. At the moment, we also do conduct workshops, art classes and space rentals at our studio.
12. What would be your advice to those who want this creative life?
Li Ping: My advice would be to just go for it! Do not be afraid of failure, because by failing it is a way of learning. Also, you must learn how to manage your life and time properly so that you don’t turn into a workaholic but you enjoy what you do. Last but not least, keep in mind that being creative is not enough, it requires a lot of sacrifices and hard work.
We love Li Ping for her honesty and maturity in how she handles her business. Do remember to follow The Buttercake Factory on Instagram, her cakes are truly a work of art!
For similar stories of creative entrepreneurs such as this check out – The Road Taken is Not An Easy One, but Undeniably A Fun One: Shahfiq & Adesh. If you wished to be profiled or to share your story, reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or say Hello on our Creative Girlboss Facebook page.