#22 Lexie Morris – Finding your entrepreneurial sweet spot
Lexie hails from the UK, and studied Mandarin at the University of Cambridge, before heading into what she thought would be a dream job in the corporate world in London. The brief stint there convinced Lexie that it was not her cup of tea at all, and so she moved to Beijing in late 2009 to setup the city’s first cupcake bakery, the Lollipop Bakery. Last year, having gained a reputation for consistent fresh deliciousness, Lollipop brought its cupcakes to Shanghai as a co-partner of the Pantry, and has now expanded its range to include other cakes & cookies. At the same time, Lexie also started an ice cream shop in Nanjing with a business partner, and splits her time between the three cities.
If you’re not willing to risk your job today for the business of tomorrow, it’s not a good enough idea.
How she got to China
She studied Chinese in Beijing for six months as part of her Chinese language degree program. She didn’t love her time here initially and actually vowed never to return… Sounds a bit like my own story! Tune in to hear why she came back.
Her current project
Cupcakes were becoming a real ‘thing’ in the US and this had made the leap across the pond, with the Hummingbird Bakery in London beginning to attract a large following. Lexie, burnt out with her corporate gig, figured that given her language skills, and love of sweets this was a concept that she could successfully bring to China. The Lollipop Bakery today remains true to her initial vision of a small bakery making a core product and doing it well, bringing a real taste of home to expats in China.
For Lexie, the constant battle of just how ‘legal’ to be remains the most challenging thing of doing business in China. She discusses why following the letter of the law is so hard and timing on when and why to go after your own legit licensing. Be careful though: Lexie warns of the increased administrative headaches that come with being fully above board.
Lessons learned along the way
- ‘No’ does not mean ‘no’ in China. Find the legal loop holes and work ’em.
- The local culture is tough to really ‘get’. Even now, Lexie discloses that she doesn’t really understand why her top selling ice cream is what it is (durian, of all things…!). She can dissect the numbers, but when it comes to truly understanding the Chinese customer mindset, she’s still clueless. Tune in to find out how she manages to navigate this in her business.
- Be extremely flexible to tweak your product based on customer’s needs.
- Let your market tell you what they want.
How Lexie stays motivated
Oh boy, is this entrepreneurial gig a rollercoaster ride. Lexie says she “can go from feeling fantastic to awful to fantastic again–all in a day.” I think all entrepreneurs can relate. She talks about how focusing on the bigger picture can help calm her down and keeps her motivated.
What has her super jazzed
Pret-a-Manger has just launched in Shanghai, and she is extremely proud that Lollipop bakery are sourcing their sweets range from them. She hopes that Lollipop can grow with them as they expand their business on the mainland. How sweet is that going to be??
The E-Myth, book by Michael Gerber
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