Entrepreneur

Meet The 24-Year-Old M'sian Who's A Banker By Day, And A Macaron Painter By Night

  • Macarons By Madeleine is a solo F&B business run by 24-year-old banker Madeleine Lew.
  • She offers up macarons that are hand-painted and customisable based on the demands of clients, and delivers to central regions of the Klang Valley.

Lately, it’s become common to see young enterprising individuals go out into the world and try to build themselves a successful business creating things that today’s discerning market can appreciate.

From hand-made leather wearables to goods made from recycled materials to food items made using high-grade ingredients, there have been an increasing number of these local brands started by these ambitious young entrepreneurs.

One such individual traversing this route is 24-year-old Madeline Lew, a Business and Commerce graduate from Monash University Malaysia who decided to pursue a baking career in addition to her weekday occupation as a banker.

To be exact, Madeleine runs a home business called Macarons By Madeleine that offer artisanal macarons made to order, and markets them to most central areas within the Klang Valley, including Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, and Selangor.

Her prices start at RM42 for a minimum order of 12 undecorated macarons, but rise to RM60 for customised, hand-painted pieces. For delivery, she charges a minimum of RM5, with prices differing based on location.

“I’m still personally delivering them, so there are limitations on which areas I can reach,” she explained. “But recently, I’ve been exploring delivery platforms as I hope to reach a wider audience in the future.”

Friendly Origins

Madeleine explained that she got started baking macarons after getting taught how to make them by one of her buddies.

“I’ve a close friend—Lynn—who has some culinary skills, and she just decided that one day we’d meet at her place and she’d demonstrate how to bake macarons,” she explained. “I saw how she did it, and even without having any hands-on experience at the time, I thought to myself ‘hey, this seems pretty easy!’, and that was that.”

Image Credit: Macarons By Madeleine

But for a few months after that, Madeleine never made moves to use her new-found knowledge until the beginning of 2018 when she wrote down her New Year’s resolutions.

“I jotted down in my journal that in 2018, I wanted to bake macarons as birthday gifts for my close circle of friends, because what could be a better gift than something hand-made right?” she revealed.

So after a period of trial and error—20 tries over a couple of months to be exact, Madeleine eventually got the hang of macaron-making and proceeded to create her business account on Instagram in mid-August of 2018, aptly naming her new brand Macarons By Madeleine.

Madeleine said that she now uses her businesses not only as an income platform, but also as an avenue where she could showcase her creativity.

“I wanted Macarons By Madeleine to be a platform where I present my creativity—art can come in many forms and for me, it’s expressed through adding some colours and designs onto the typical meringue-based cookie.”

True to this statement, Madeleine differentiates her offerings from other cafés and bakeries by adding all sorts of designs to her macarons. These designs range from floral patterns and cute illustrations to letter designs and custom messages, and have so far been successful in drawing attention from not only individual clients, but corporate ones as well.

Madeleine explained that she got educated in beautifying her macarons mainly through online tutorials and having Lynn give her critique through WhatsApp.

“I did not attend any proper macaron-making classes, but I searched a lot online for tutorials on YouTube,” she said. “Trust me, there’s tons for you to learn—if one video’s method or recipe doesn’t suit you, move on and try another video tutorial.”

“As for my designs, I got my ideas mainly from Pinterest and Instagram.”

Any Demand Is Good Demand

One of the concerns when it comes to food trends like these is longevity, with some trends able to stay evergreen while much more come and go in the blink of an eye.

Addressing these concerns, Madeleine expressed that she felt there would always be a place for macarons in Malaysia despite there not being crazy hype or demand for them.

She admitted she understood that compared to brands such as Tealive, macarons would probably never hit such levels of popularity—which by all accounts is fine by her.

Image Credit: Macarons By Madeleine

“To be honest, I never saw macarons as a huge thing in Malaysia compared to other famous trends such as bubble tea,” Madeleine said. “I would even say that there’s a portion of Malaysians who are pretty health-conscious and deem macarons or any other sweet desserts as sinful to consume.”

But despite this, she said there would always be some demand for food products like hers, mainly due to the fact that people always need options for special occasions.

“Demand-wise, I feel there is always an occasion or function,” she said. “I still get enquiries every now and then, and they’re almost always ordered as gifts for someone special.”

As proof of this, Madeleine revealed that on one such occasion, she received an order from a corporate client for 1,000 boxes to be used as door gifts for their event.

“It wasn’t an easy order for me, but I’m truly grateful for the help I got from my friends, and especially my mom since she helped me from the start.”

Steps To Expansion

Looking ahead, Madeleine is currently facing two distinct challenges in trying to grow her business—labour and logistics.

For labour, she realises that eventually her business will need more hands on deck, and as such is considering bringing in another individual to help her manage growing demand and expectations.

Image Credit: Macarons By Madeleine

“In terms of labour, you don’t hear the term ‘freelance baker’ in the same way other industries can easily hire freelancers to complete a job,” she said. “For bakers and bakeries, you usually need to hire someone permanently to grow your business, which I’ll definitely consider in the future.”

As for the logistics portion, Madeleine hopes to be able to expand her delivery reach to accommodate larger orders during high seasons and also extend beyond the Klang Valley to perhaps places such as Singapore.

“For 2019, my plans are to overcome the challenges mentioned above as well as to do more collaborations to boost brand awareness,” she said. “I enjoy meeting other talented local entrepreneurs—getting to understand and be inspired by each brand’s story is also one of the fun elements whenever I approach them to collaborate.”

  • To know more about Madeleine’s business, you can check her out on Facebook or Instagram.

Feature Image Credit: Macarons By Madeleine

 

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