Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristine de la Cruz.
Kristine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
So, I did it. I gave myself one year to work for just one hour a day on my business. 8 months later, I had a 52-page business plan in my hand and my aunt’s recipe for Leche Flan and that is how Crème Caramel LA was born.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There’s a reason why they say, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it” when it comes to entrepreneurship. As an employee, there is almost an unspoken comfort with having someone direct the objectives of your position. As a business owner, you drive the narrative and story of your business. You set up the systems and processes. I can’t speak about the other industries, but in the restaurant/retail business, it’s a hard hustle. Your margins are lower, your inventory is perishable, and the rent is high if you want to be in an area that gives you a chance to succeed. And don’t forget, some of the hardest working people in the business are working for lower wages in physically demanding jobs.
Not to mention that retail fluctuates with the season, weather and neighborhood. Despite this, we’ve grown an average of 28% year upon year since 2014. Some of this is attributed to a majority share of our business that is generated by wholesale. We’re glad to have awesome partners carrying our product in the Los Angeles area. But funding our growth has always been a problem. Growing 28% a year seems great on paper, but if you calculate the needed funds to support that growth, it can be daunting. Seeking capital becomes a regular part of our day to day operations. We have some exciting growth opportunities in the next two years, so raising capital is foremost on our minds.
Please tell us about Crème Caramel LA.
Crème Caramel LA started in 2010 out of farmers’ market around Los Angeles metro. We had 15 markets at our highest point before we moved into our Sherman Oaks shop in 2013. We specialize in custard and confections using traditional and Filipino ingredients. The mother custard is based on my aunt’s recipe for Filipino Leche Flan but prepared the French way. We like to call it Filipino soul in a French body. We collaborated with Annie at Found Coffee (Eagle Rock) in 2016 to open our second shop, FrankieLucy Bakeshop in Silverlake. This shop sells the same food items as Crème Caramel LA, except our coffee game is definitely elevated at the Silverlake location.
Sean and I bootstrapped Crème Caramel LA with SBA loans, savings and our retirement accounts, so to say we have gone “all in” is an understatement. We were fortunate to have investors that helped us build FrankieLucy Bakeshop and we had a great first year in Silverlake!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would have raised more capital at the beginning from private investors. While I had confidence in my business plan, I wasn’t as keen as involving other people, because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Seven years later, I’m more confident in approaching people and accepting their interest in partnering with us as a genuine interest in our company, as opposed to feeling, “oh, they’re just being nice.”
We’re lucky that in our journey that for the most part, we’ve met inspiring and supportive people in the industry.
- Address: Crème Caramel LA – 14849 Burbank Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91411
FrankieLucy Bakeshop – 3116 Sunset Blvd, Unit 1/2, Los Angeles, CA 90026
- Website: cremecaramella.com
- Phone: 818 949 8352 | 323 285 1458
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @creme_caramel_la | @frankielucybakeshop
- Facebook: /cremecaramella
- Twitter: @cremecaramella
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/cr%C3%A8me-caramel-la-los-angeles-5
- Other: frankielucybakeshop.com