When petiteAmanda first opened in IFC last year, Hong Kongers went berserk over the chance to try Amanda Strang (aka. Amanda S)'s authentic French pastries, or simply to catch a glimpse of the slender model.
"When we first opened, there was already a huge lineup outside," said Strang, who was originally looking to open a shop in Happy Valley. "There was literally no room for mistakes."
So far though, Strang has done no wrong as her shop continues to sell out of pastries daily. We caught up with the busy model-turned-entrepreneur at CSL 1O1O's launch of the new Samsung Galaxy SIII to talk about running a business, time management and keeping fit.
LifestyleAsia (LSA): You were and still are a successful model. What made you decide to start your own business?
Amanda Strang (AS): Cooking was always a hobby of mine, and I'm just a lover of life. I love all things that are beautiful, and food is one of those things because it pleases three senses: sight, smell and taste. As a model, I felt like I had to work really hard at it, but with this, everything just fell into place.
The cake shop was the first thing I wanted to do because Hong Kong lacks French patisseries, especially ones that are small and privately owned. So I thought, 'I'm half French, I love to eat, why don't I do this?' I took a leap, went for it and I'm loving it.
LSA: What's your schedule like now?
AS: In the beginning, it was hectic and I was working from 5am to 10pm. Now, I'm able to hire more people, people bill me longer, so it's really coming together. It's a choice, really -- hire less people to save money and work like a crazy person, or hire better people so you can relax a little.
I'm still there everyday but I get to go to work at the same time as my husband does and go home together too. I try to keep a balance nowadays but for the first six months I had no life.
LSA: Do you think being beautiful helps or hinders you as an entrepreneur?
AS: It definitely helps in the sense of marketing. I don't have to spend as much on marketing since I'm a walking ad. But I do have to be more careful about the quality in my shop because people can be very judgmental. Anything that goes wrong is automatically my fault, and when things go well, I get to take credit for it.
LSA: What are your thoughts on other celebrities (especially models) who have started their own businesses?
AS: A lot of celebs do have their own business but a lot just invest into it. They're usually not hands on, like I'll make recipes in the back of the kitchen, do all the MPFs, salaries, cash on hand excel sheets, going to the bank to order more cheques, etc. I mean, I'm at the counter if one of my girls can't come in.
LSA: What's the hardest part about running your own business?
AS: Managing people! Hong Kong is so known for people changing jobs. Every person I've spoken to in higher management, whether it's in the fashion, food or finance industry, says that's just how Hong Kong is.
Don't feel bad about it though, instead just think of how you can resolve it as quickly as possible. And, you have to be flexible to take over anyone's spot. Sometimes it means being a chef, a sales girl, whatever it is. I basically do everything, but in rotation.
LSA: Do you feel competitive with all the other bakeries or cake shops in Hong Kong?
AS: Honestly, all these things actually motivate me to be more creative. Nothing you do in this world is unique, except maybe Richard Branson's trips to space. Most things have been done already and you just have to concentrate on doing the best you can for the concept you have.
LSA: We had to ask -- how do you stay fit running a cake shop?
AS: I eat everything I want, just not a huge quantity. If you want to have a piece of cake, have it, but don't eat the whole thing. Eat half, pack it home, and give it to someone! You really don't need to eat the whole thing.
I also eat relative to how much I'm exercising or moving that day. If I'm going to be sitting in bed doing nothing all day, I'll eat like a rabbit. But if I'm running around all day, I'll eat three good meals. There is no cheating to being slim and fit. So if you hear anything that sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
LSA: You mentioned that opening petiteAmanda was the first thing for you to start with. What's next?
AS: I honestly never make plans too far in advance, since life never goes to plan (as we all know). But, a lot of people have been approaching me from all over the world, like Malaysia, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai.
I always make sure to stay flexible to grab a suitable opportunity when it comes by. That's what luck is -- being in the right place at the right time and grabbing those opportunities. At the moment, my plans are hush hush, but we'll see what happens.
petiteAmanda, Shop 2096, IFC mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2234 7222, www.petiteamanda.com