On a Tuesday morning in August 2020, Pop icon Taylor Swift (who rarely replies to fan tweets), was impressed by a cake designed and baked by two Filipino Swifties.
As it turns out, these two Swifties are Nicole Anne Cledera and her brother, John Paul Cledera.
Nicole first baked a Folklore-themed cake for her brother a few days after the album’s release date. To anticipate that the album would chart like Swift’s other music, John Paul baked a custom cake again.
Decorated with a frosted painting of Swift with the words “Congrats Taylor”, the proud Swiftie posted the picture on his social media tagging Swift’s official account and Taylor Nation (Swift’s official fan community account). On the morning of August 4, they found out that Swift noticed the cake, replied to John Paul’s tweet, and even checked out his Instagram account (See Taylor Swift’s response here!)
A pandemic-born business
Finding her passion for baking again, Nicole started making delectable baked goods for her family and friends when the pandemic started. Eventually, they put up an online store via Instagram and Facebook. From there, their market (mostly Millenials and Gen Z’s) grew even more when bento cakes started becoming a trend in the Philippines. In addition to this, the viral Taylor Swift cake post paved the way for them to reach another market– their fellow Swifties.
Aside from delivering custom cakes for client’s special occasions, they wanted to materialize a space for customers where they can enjoy good food and good company. Hence, they created a community that helps people feel relaxed despite the uncertainties of the time. That community is now Baddie Brews.
It has been Nicole’s dream to open a cafe. From what was once was once a vision–an idea to help her parents, and a dream to have a coffee shop–Baddie Brews is born. Now a physical cafe located in Antipolo, it serves delicious coffee and a variety of delectable pastries.
A vision that propels the business
Even as a young business owner, Nicole faced a lot of challenges during the first few months of their business. Nicole shares, “For someone who is young and new to this industry, I faced a lot of challenges– from searching for suppliers who offered affordable and quality products, experimenting on different recipes, and finding the right market for our products. Because of those, I have faced challenges with my mental health.”
Nicole also anticipated the complexities of establishing a business right from the start. And because of this, she made sure her team has one mindset and mission as hers.
“I knew from the start that it was only going to get harder as we progressed. And that is why it was important to me to have a team that has the same vision and goals for the brand because what helped us get through most of our challenges was communication and perseverance.”
How the pandemic affected customer traffic
Since they started Baddie Brews during a pandemic, Nicole reveals that their cafe had its fair share of highs and lows in terms of sales. Some days they would have a jam-packed place, but on other days, only a couple of customers would walk in. Despite this, Nicole remains thankful for regular customers who visit their cafe frequently.
The cafe moves even beyond the physical shop. Due to health protocols and customer preferences to stay inside their homes, many avail of food and drink delivery services. And Baddie Brews knows that. “Having deliveries is definitely something you will be needing especially during this time of pandemic, because people now prefer having their food and beverages delivered rather than to risk and go outside. So having our own delivery and third party delivery services was a really big help in expanding our reach,” Nicole says.
Baddie Brews x Blu Coffee
Going back to the very start of building their own coffee shop, Baddie Brews’ relationship with Blu Coffee has been a vital factor that helps keep their cafe flourish. From acquiring their coffee machine to quality ingredients (such as syrups and sauces which they use for beverages and pastry ingredients), Blu Coffee’s participation in the Baddie Brews community and business has been undoubtedly valuable, says Nicole. “Without the help from Blu Coffee, none of this would be possible as they provide us with the quality and ingredients that are up with the customers’ standards.”
To expound more on this, Nicole shares that Blu Coffee’s great customer service and assistance makes the process easier. For instance, a helpful quality of partnership from a supplier is readiness and great customer service. Specifically, if ever Baddie Brews experience an equipment issue, Nicole notes Blu Coffee’s promptness, “Blu Coffee is always one text or one call away they will immediately set up a date to check on the issue and resolve it as quickly as possible.”
Baddie Brews in today’s market competition
When asked about how Baddie Brews stands out in a saturated market, Nicole tells us that their business has its own niche and that they never fail to put passion into their art. “I think what makes Baddie Brews stand out is that we have our own niche. Most of our products are custom-made for our customers and we put our passion in art into what we do as well. And that creates a greater connection with us and our clients.” Nicole says.
Now very busy with their successful business, Nicole remembers her biggest learning in her cafe entrepreneur journey. “…The bigger it gets, the more difficult things are to handle. And that I have so much more to learn about the industry so it’s important to have a great team and support system because most of your battles– you will be facing alone.”
Truly, partnerships, support, and assistance become a substantial part of why businesses continue to flourish. Moreover, an entrepreneur’s appetite for learning, whether young or not, is a flavorful and important ingredient to brewing a very delicious coffee– we mean, an entrepreneurial venture.
Identically, Nicole’s tip for aspiring cafe entrepreneurs presents a similar model. She says, “My tip would be: Don’t be afraid to fall and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, because as cliche as it sounds, life is definitely short. So go ahead and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.”