The World of Anges

Do people care?!

My typical working day - I start off with a production plan and an admin plan, where I am actually in the kitchen producing our full range of macaroons, marshmallows, cakes etc during the day with my really cool and talented team of chefs till about 15:00 and then I get on with dealing with the admin and shop management tasks till I drop (which is shortly before dinner). However, on each day I am also faced with a set of surprise problems and puzzles which sometimes derails me off my plans.

Meringue

Laura's got her head stuck in a whisk...standard chef problem

Last week there was a derailment in plans which meant I got to the shop three hours late, all flustered and raggedy from fatigue, hunger and stress. And then to add to that...I had the most curious visitor pop in. Now, the majority of people are absolutely lovely, and most of our customers are a pleasure to serve. It is always great to interact with them, and their feedback is invaluable - it is what has helped us evolve and grow our business. We freakin' love all the good feedback regarding our products and service. And as good as good feedback feels, it's the bad and the ugly that I obsess over, and it is this obsession that helps us keep assessing and implementing much needed improvements.

Bakery Kensington

Our new window display full of CAKE!

Enter: Most Curious Visitor. She stepped in while I was about to close up having rushed in like a hot mess from the kitchen. She looked around and seemed to take an interest in the macarons and I jumped up to describe our latest flavour - Muchly Matcha, 'it's an unusual smokey, vanilla-ey flavour that really is surp..'.

'Yes, I know', visitor interrupts me mid-sentence.

Me: 'Oh, you do? Have you had it before?'.

Visitor: 'Yes, I sell them too at my café up the road' 

It took me a good few seconds to recall exactly which café, and embarrassingly it was one that we've never been to nor intend to visit, but like most normal people in such situations...I faked it - 'Ooohh! Yes, of course! It's so cute!' in my most genuine voice. It actually is kinda cute from the outside, in your local greasy spoon sorta way, but of course it's Kensington dah'ling, where even the greasy spoon serves macaroons. 'Do you make the macaroons yourself?'

Visitor: 'Of course not, no, we buy them from [enter mass-market-wholesaler-name]. Same as these. But I sell them for £1. They are exactly the same but you are charging a lot more.'

Nothing about this woman's manner particularly irked me until she said that. What she said was so worrying for three reasons:

1) Wholesalers have no incentive to use quality ingredients - their main objective is to keep costs as low as possible to allow for the largest margins as possible as both the wholesaler and their customer, eg: random Kensington café, have to make their respective margins on the product. Sadly, the only one losing out here is the end consumer where they are getting low value on a low quality product as the middle-man and the producer make their margins.

2) The glaringly obvious fact that she could not tell the difference between the product SHE sold and the product WE sell highlighted how out of touch she was with her own business and product knowledge.

3) She was just plain bitter-nasty. There, I said it, and I feel so much better for it!

Shocker doesn't end there though. As I tried to reassure her that they were definitely not the same product as xyz-wholesaler does not use fine chocolate ganache fillings or real fruit and natural flavourings, she interrupted again with,

'Do you think people care? They don't care. Trust me, I'm speaking from a lot of experience.'

 

Naïve I may be on many fronts, but I sure as 'ell ain't gonna trust someone who has just admitted that she doesn't believe people care about quality. I consider myself part of the general public and I very much care. It saddened me deeply to see and hear first-hand that there are café/deli/restaurant owners out there who think customers don't care. And it worried me sick that I've built a business based on the premise that customers DO care - if this woman is right, am I the crazy one?! Is this all for nothing?

Matcha Cupcake and MacaronPremium grade Matcha green tea, fluffy sponge with real dairy butter, Belgian chocolate and crushed walnuts in a BEAUTIFUL cupcake

With my head spinning in self-doubt and hunger I say cheerio to her through the most forced smile ever and I can sense she's not had enough. She was literally frothing for more.

'Can I give you some advice? If you don't mind?'
As a start-up entrepreneur and small business owner I've learnt over the years that when people ask for permission before dishing unsolicited advice, it is because they want you to gratefully take offence. More importantly, I have also learnt that whenever anything is offered for free, you take it.
'Clean your window.'
Boy, am I glad she walked into the shop that day. As soon as she departed I grabbed the microfiber and window cleaner and went mental at the window.
 
Beautiful shop window London
 
With everything going on inside the shop - our new manager, new luscious layer cakes, new window display etc we neglected the OUTSIDE of the shop which really is the first thing that everyone sees. And my oh my, does it make a difference!
 
Best cupcakes in London
 
Sparkly window is now implemented into our daily task rota, as it really does show off all the beauty inside in 'the best light'. Following her visit, surprisingly we had one of our best non-seasonal trading weekends ever - all down to a combination of factors such as an exciting new menu of yummies with a feature flavour focus (this week it was Matcha green tea!), THIS awesome press feature in the Evening Standard, and a new beautiful window display shown off to its absolute best (thanks to low-quality preaching greasy spoon owner!)
 
Matcha Cupcakes
 
While some people may carry on believing people don't care, now that I've got this rant off my chest I'll be going back to caring about what OUR customers care about - quality. Having recounted this whole interaction in my head I've also prepared a lovely bit of advice to give to low-quality preaching greasy spoon woman, if she wouldn't mind of course...
 

There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey

- John Ruskin
With tender love & care,
Reshmi xoxo

 

PS: Please do not take this as a Kensington-wide cafe slating. There are some LOVELY cafes in Kensington - Candella is really sweet, as is Café Monde, where the owners seem to actually care that people care :)  

 

May 05, 2015

Thank you Ina! And if I visit SA before then I’ll try to sneak some treats over :) x

Reshmi
Apr 28, 2015

I cannot wait for the day that I visit London again and I will rush to your shop and have your macaron-topped-cupcakes that I drool over everyday on Instagram. Quality matters! Otherwise my whole trip will be a waste ;) Until 1 day….love from South Africa

Ina
Apr 27, 2015

People, I care very much about quality. Keep calm and carry on.

Amrita
Apr 26, 2015

I care. If am going to treat myself or my friends, I’m not going to risk disappointment and that feeling of a wasted opportunity. Who wants a so-so treat? I don’t think we should have to compromise on looks versus taste and that has never been the case with your delicious confections. Worth every penny ♡

Faith

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