Everyone keeps wondering how Spontiphoria all began. The minute they walk in they are awed by the combined concept of boutique and cafe and I feel extremely complimented when they say it reminds them of the quaint little stores in European and North American cities. That quaint, familial atmosphere was exactly what I wanted to convey. I wanted a space where people can walk in and immediately feel calm and relaxed. Where they can feel at home, put their feet up on the couch and camp out for the day.
I have always been so used to continuously being harried throughout my day as I'm sure everyone else is also, that I wanted a place where people can walk in and feel away from it all. A place where time slows down and happiness takes over.
But let's backtrack a bit... how did it all begin?
One summer in 2007, I was interning at a media company. My evenings at home were free and so I decided to experiment with baking. I'll let you in on a little secret- until a few months before that I really thought baking a cake was only possible through using a powdered mix. I had no idea you could make it from scratch or perhaps I simply hadn't given it thought. Shocking, I know!
Well I experimented first with chocolate chip cookies and because I'd get something like 50 pieces from each batch, I would take them to work the next morning. Everyone would love them- I mean, who doesn't like munching on anything sweet while they work?- and so that was all the encouragement I needed. Next I moved on to brownies and cupcakes and while I did that, I found the entire baking process to be extremely therapeutic.
Sure, it's different from cooking in that it is so much more of a science, but it doesn't involve the heady smells and rough chopping that cooking does. I found it to be the perfect way to unwind and so soon enough, I was slowly collecting cookbooks and working my way through different types of baked goods (however, I am still horrible at making pies!).
The fall after that summer was the start of my senior year in high school and I carried the love of baking with me all throughout college. When I first began college, I was struck by how intense of a change it was from high school. The amount of reading, writing, and analyzing would drain me- and on weekend nights, when the rest of my high school classmates in other universities were meeting up and going out, I would spend the evening stretched out in bed recuperating from the exhausting week. I'd emerge after a couple of hours to bake. Staying at home was the best.
Baking really got me through college and I also find something so special in having your hobby benefit so many around you. The joy people get on their faces when you walk in in the morning with a box of delicious treats is, like the classic credit card advert: priceless.
In my junior year, my mum and I were thinking of opening a tiny boutique to sell all the curios we'd find on our travels. Tiny, quirky gifts and the like. A year later, when we saw Wasl Square- a residential/commercial project being built close to our house, we decided to just give it a shot and see if we could rent a space. All the while, opening a cafe was a distant dream I had that I wanted to achieve in the next ten years...
The closer we got to actually taking concrete steps to achieving our goal, the more I realized something: opening a business is HARD WORK. It's not something you can do anytime. If the time is right, why not combine the two concepts into one store? What's stopping us? When else would I get the chance to open a cafe if I still wanted to pursue academia?
And so, I spent a few days polishing our concept and came up with Spontiphoria. We presented the idea and.....exactly one year, three months and twenty days later- we opened our doors to a soft opening on August 1, 2013- fully launching on November 7th that year.