Colleen FRANCISCA is a businesswoman and model, owner of The Cupcake Boutique ~ which supplies delightful desserts and just about every other pretty thing ever made in this part of the world.
Colleen also happens to be Miss Singapore World 2006 and with her title duties came charity work that she still maintains 2 years later. Now its clearly above and beyond the title, instead a direct manifestation of her soft spot for women and children, animals and fairly recently, HIV victims.
This member is a lady's lady who will never be caught wearing sweats and a t-shirt. In this interview she talks about being that and about managing her time between her business, family and her self-imposed service to her community. She also declares her undying desire to create pretty things via The Cupcake Boutique... She's not just spreading the love, she's also spreading the pretty.
FULL NAME: Colleen FRANCISCA-MASON
PLACE OF BIRTH: Singapore
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Singapore
EDUCATION: Degree in Mass Communications
It's very unlikely to find a Model and Beauty Queen who has 'baking desserts' as a favourite hobby. How did that happen?
I blame my mother! I grew up having the best food at home. I was always proud to bring friends home for dinner because I knew they would be blown away with my mother's cooking but there was one flaw. She never made dessert.
So taking matters into my own hands, I started making dessert to complement my mother's meals. I made my first batch of brownies when I was 10 and continued experimenting from there. There was one thing I noticed throughout the years, everytime my mother was happy, everytime she celebrated, she would buy a cupcake from the local bakery. It was her private moment, she knew she deserved it and she never felt guilty for indulging, for they were a personal portion, even smaller than a slice of cake and the best part is that she never had to share. I was always intrigued by this ritual, when mummy was happy, there would be cupcakes on the table. When I started The Cupcake Boutique, I named my first cupcake, Peppermint Princy, a moist chocolate cupcake smothered with peppermint buttercream, after her.
Tell us about baking for The Cupcake Boutique. Where do you draw your ideas from?
Baking is therapeutic for me at the same time it acts as a channel that helps release my undying desire to create pretty things. I am easily inspired. I could spend an hour perfecting a cupcake creation, fussing over it's frosting that has to be the right colour, consistency or piped shape. I enjoy creating them as I do devouring them!
What other products and services do you offer under The Cupcake Boutique brand?
Wedding Favors, Baby Products, Luxurious Spa Products, Dessert Perfumery, Jewellery and a Stationary Line. Another area of profession that I've pursued is the grooming business. I have partnered with a communications skills company and deliver corporate as well as personal grooming sessions to clients. I see this business developing into a wider audience including beauty pageant contestants.
How do you incorporate your charity work into your products and services?
Most of my product lines are affiliated with non-profit organizations which receive a percentage of the profit from sales.
Tell us about the causes you support.
I support numerous children's and women's charities even before I was crowned Miss Singapore World 2006 and I continue to do so, but having a title makes it easier to organize events on a bigger scale as compared to before. After winning the title I have contacted the Children's Cancer Society amongst others to offer my dessert catering services (cupcakes and such) to the children as and when they are needed like birthdays and holidays. The causes closest to my heart are the animal rights charities. An example would be The Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), a society set up to help the stray and abandoned dogs in Singapore. I've adopted my dog from the ASD, she's not a pedigree, she's what we would call a Singapore Special, a crossbreed. I think we need to raise awareness here that owning a dog is not to be confused with owning a branded handbag.
Our local dogs are worth just as much as pedigree dogs. I also foster rescued or injured animals until they find permanent homes. I try to help within my limited means, on visit in Phuket, I was touched by a story on the local news about the stray dogs there and I contacted the non profit organizaItion called Soi Dogs (Street Dogs) to ask how I could help. I ended up sponsoring two dogs called Switch and Einstein by funding their food as well as treatment for three years.
My most recent involvement is the Action for AIDS, I've been appointed their ambassador this year and will their spokesperson on issues relating to HIV/AIDS at their public events.
You seem to involve yourself with many things, how do you make time for love and family? What do you do? Where do you go?
I must admit that my biggest problem is time management, but I still manage nontheless. We all have 24 hours in a day, whether you have a nine to five job in the office or you are the president. It is a matter of how you prioritize everything.
I think my secret is doing what I love, being baking and creating new products to being involved in causes I feel strongly about. When you are doing something you are passionate about, it doesn't seem like work and it is never tiring but I am only human and I do enjoy a day off every now and then. I love dessert and what I usually do to unwind is to catch up with my closest friends over decadent dessert.
Will you ever be caught wearing sweats and an old t-shirt? You always look sharp and beautiful.
Why thank you! Just so you know, I don't own any sweats and t-shirts. It's just not my style. I am really old fashioned in the way that ladies should look like ladies, I don't own slippers either.
How can your fellow members and your fans get a hold of The Cupcake Boutique?
I am planning to open a retail space end of this year. I'm shopping around at the moment.
Stay tuned to www.thecupcakeboutique.com as well as www.colleenfrancisca.comColleen is a valued member of our SENATUS community.