I Have A Passion: LOCO LOCO
Crystal is the co-founder of LOCO LOCO. She has a passion for baking churros and running her own business. Currently on her second year in SMU studying business management, she juggles the responsibility of running LOCO LOCO and her studies.
The idea of starting her own business first came about when she returned from a graduation trip to Europe. While she was in Spain, she learned that people in Spain eat churros very differently. In Barcelona, they eat them in cinnamon sugar and in Madrid, they eat them with hot chocolate. As she spent more time there, she came to appreciate their culture. How people queue and sit down just to eat the churros and hot chocolate while they read the newspaper. To her, it is like our local kopi (coffee) and you tiao (deep fried dough sticks).
After experiencing all that in Europe, she wanted to bring something back. She experimented and created panda and red velvet flavoured churros, localised to fit Singaporeans’ taste buds. Much to her surprise, many people liked it. They started buying and taking pictures of the colourful churros.
Initially, the vibrant colours was not the selling point of the churros. It was an attempt to differentiate the various flavours. As the colour of the churros is rather pale after frying, Crystal added a little food colouring to make the flavours more obvious. The churros are of quality, made and piped by hand, with no machines involved.
How did the name ‘LOCO LOCO’ came about?
“When I started this business, I told myself that I needed a catchy name. Seeing the joy and satisfaction on the faces of our customers after taking a bite of our churros, gave us an idea. That was the reason why we came up with Le Kou (楽口), having joy in your mouth. Since it’s supposed to be catchy, we decided on “Le Kou, Le Kou”, which is LOCO LOCO.”
When asked what frustrates her the most, Crystal responded — her business partner. Since he is also her boyfriend, things gets a little personal at times when they are discussing about business. As they are both straightforward and blunt people and have very different working styles, they constantly found themselves head butting into each other.
Earlier this year, she was in talks with her partner to sell her shares of the business to him. As she is still studying while he is working full time, it was rather unfair to be splitting the profits equally in half. It was the toughest decision that she had to make but eventually, she agreed to it. As of now, she is under the company by the name only with no income.
Despite their differences in personalities and working styles, they still embrace the weaknesses of each other and put their individual strengths into good use for the business.
What is most challenging about running a business?
“It’s very fun, actually. It depends whether do you like challenges. For me, there are challenges everyday. I would say all these little challenges that happen on a day-to-day basis make up a business. If there is no problem, then something is not right.”
Managing employees is a big challenge for Crystal too. Since they run pasar malam stalls, there will usually be only one person running the stall on full shift from noon till 11 at night. It might sound really taxing but the working conditions are flexible, since there will not constantly be a large swarm of customers and break times to eat and smoke are decided by the person working. However, the downside is that if the person working for that day were to call in sick at the last minute, it will be extremely tough for Crystal to look for a replacement.
One of the most significant milestones for LOCO LOCO would be the annual Geylang Serai Bazaar. When they first started selling churros at the bazaar, it was a big hit. She likes opening pop up stalls at pasar malams as the rental is rather flexible and the people managing the whole thing are nice and friendly.
“That was the first time we managed to get our capital and every year that would be the month that would earn the most revenue, which is why it is the most significant one. It will also be the one with the most media coverage and new products.”
In 2015, they started with two 5-litres fryers and it took a lot time to serve the churros. So in the following year, they prepared four 10-litres fryers instead. The waiting time was a lot shorter and it became more efficient as well. For 2017, she is planning to get more than one stores and also to bring in new products.
Crystal hopes that in the future, she would be able to open a big chain store. It will definitely be a whole new experience since she had only opened pop up stores so far. With the financial issues of having to pay for rental and full-timers, it will be a challenge, but she will pull it through.
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