Life after graduation can be daunting. As we scurry off to find employment we’re left in a transitional gap where everything feels uncertain. It’s a continuous process where it sometimes feels like a test of your stamina to keep pushing out resumes and cover letters. However, our experiences along the way can be valuable, and what seems like something fun and irrelevant can be used to build your career. This is certainly true for Jeremy Wong and his experiences at SFU, where he was an business student, Car Club and Canadianized Asian Club (CAC) member, and even took on a stint in SFU Cheerleading. Now, he’s the President of ManCakes Bakery, which is receiving media buzz from the likes of CNN and Global News.
As I entered ManCakes Bakery I was instantly welcomed with smiles (fitting when you’re surrounded by cupcakes). Jeremy made his way around the counter to greet us and we took a few minutes to talk about his business. Phone in hand, handling multiple things at once, it was clear he was in his element. After our talk, he was off to another event! However, I managed to get a few secrets out of him. Read on to hear how ManCakes began and how the business has taken off.
How did ManCakes begin?
“ManCakes was born when Geoff and I were sitting with a group of friends one day just eating cupcakes a female friend of ours had bought to share. While eating them, we wondered why cupcakes were so tremendously popular yet the options on the market all seemed to be the same - pink, frilly, loaded with way too much icing and topped with plastic sprinkles. As men, we would almost never go into a cupcake store to buy cupcakes but admittedly didn't mind the treat. Even girls admitted that you almost always have to wipe 3/4 of the icing off… before actually being able to eat it!
Geoff and I set out to design cupcakes that were different. We are revolutionizing not only the cupcake industry, but also the dessert industry, by introducing flavours that you never thought were possible. As we developed the idea further and further… we enlisted the help of our friend Tyler, a trained pastry chef to see if our crazy ideas were even possible. From here, ManCakes was born.”
How did the owners of ManCakes meet?
“Tyler and I met WAY back in the day when we used to do gymnastics together. We actually trained under the same coach although Tyler was a little older than me. We were both on the National Team at one point and then kept in touch through the years. We reconnected later when I recruited Tyler to become part of an All Star cheerleading team that would eventually come 4th place at the World Championships. This is where Geoff and Tyler would meet for the first time. The rest was history.”
What kinds of people do you get to meet / work with?
“We work with some very successful mentors who help fuel and coach us to keep doing what we do… [We’ve also] built a team of employees who understand and love what ManCakes is all about. We have fun, work hard and make sure all of our customers have a memorable experience when they visit us in shop. The last aspect is the connections and partnerships we make with other companies. We've worked with fashion brands like the custom suit makers Indochino to supplying cupcakes for the BC Lions players. We've even created cupcakes for movie premiers and screenings and we're currently in a partnership with the Hunger Games Mockingjay movie. Have you ever had a cupcake that's lit on fire?”
Were you involved in any organizations that contributed to your current success?
“I was a part of the SFU Car Club, CAC and SFU Cheerleading. It's important to get involved with clubs because it helps you connect with people with the same interests. Not only does this add to your university experience because you will literally just have more fun, but if you're not a social person, it will help you open up. This will be particularly helpful once you graduate because in business, it’s all about who and how you connect with others. For those of you that are already socialites…keep it up. You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to help and be helped in business by friends that you made in university!"
While ManCakes Bakery has knocked down a few accomplishments since its opening in late 2013 and is continuing to grow, Jeremy's story demonstrates that at the end of the day you just have to go for it!