Choux Lab’s Digital Journey to Bring Pâte à Choux to You
Hana loves pâte à choux. After spending years perfecting the craft of this crispy, sweet pastry, the Toronto- based chef and her ambitious business partner, Manny established Choux Lab, a small café in Etobicoke. With an abundance of positive feedback from customers on their 13 unique flavors of their signature pâte à choux, it was time for Choux Lab to bring their business online – a task Hana and Manny accomplished through the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP).
At Choux Lab, in Etobicoke, Ontario, every pâte à choux is made with a cup of love, and, as co-owner Manny shares, the passion of two immigrants from different worlds that came together to start a business.
After undergoing chef training at George Brown College, Hana, who is from Vietnam, started working, but on the side, perfected her craft and fell in love with the choux pastry, a crispy sweet French dessert. Hana knew she wanted to bring this pastry to the public but had reservations about starting a business on her own. She knew that her friend, Manny, originally from India, had dreams of starting his own business, but had yet to take the next steps.
“I had already tried her pastries, so I knew this had potential and I had full faith as she was determined to start. I remember us discussing, “It's ok even if we fail – we'll give it our best” says Manny.
Hana and Manny became business partners and worked hard to bring the Choux Lab storefront to life. Before opening its doors, Hana spent time developing unique and abundant flavours for their choux pastries. Hana and Manny did everything themselves from interior designing to creating their brand and logo and got lots of feedback from friends and family. What sets the Choux Lab team apart is not their experience, but their drive, combined with a deep passion.
“We had no business experience and had no guidance, so everything until this point has been our hard work. It's not a bed of roses, as a lot of times it's so stressful but the main thing is to keep going and then you see the light at the end,” says Manny.
Once Choux Lab opened, Hana and Manny received an overwhelmingly positive response to their small business, and love bringing their passion to the community. Choux Lab customers love the 13 different flavours of pâte à choux, tarts and tiramisu.
“Now, we've come a long way and we love what we do.” says Manny.
Now that Manny and Hana had successfully opened their store, they set their sights on a new goal: grow their business online and make their popular pastry accessible to more people. To do this, they recognized a need to implement an e-Commerce strategy by creating a website, but they faced two major obstacles. The first obstacle was the financial resources necessary to build a website, and the second was the knowledge required to run and build an e-commerce store. It was at this point that Hana and Manny heard about the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP).
The Canada Digital Adoption Program provides small businesses with the unique opportunity of accessing both a micro-grant of up to $2,400 and support from a dedicated one on one e-Commerce advisor, who can assist them in understanding the basics of e-Commerce solutions, cybersecurity, digital marketing strategy and more.
Hana and Manny were set up with an e-commerce advisor who was able to assist them with their unique business needs. For Hana and Manny, that meant implementing a website with an e-commerce solution for Choux Lab.
“The advisor was very helpful every step along the way, answering any questions we had”, says Manny.
With the support of their advisor, and the assistance of the micro-grant, Hana and Manny were able to build a website that works for Choux Lab’s needs, and they understand how to operate the website. This enabled Choux Lab to accommodate online orders, for pickup and delivery.
“We used the (CDAP Program) to build our website, and get professional photography done, which we used for the website. This solved a few things for us – customers can now look at our menu in details with pictures, they can order online for pick-up, or for delivery and, customers can also reach out to us via our website for any questions/queries about our products” says Manny.
Hana and Manny also used part of the grant towards their social media marketing based on what they learned from their advisor. This has helped them attract more customers.
“We also allocated a bit of the grant towards Instagram and Facebook marketing which helped us reach out to more people in Toronto” Manny says.
Thanks to the help from the CDAP program, Choux Lab now has a thriving online store, so naturally to them, Manny and Hana have once again set their sights on a new goal.
“We expect to have an even bigger online presence in the next 5 years and increase our sales more than 100% via online orders.”
The CDAP program helped establish the e-commerce building blocks that brought Choux Lab online and will allow them to continue to reach their business goals.
“The CDAP Grant helped us go digital,” says Manny. “As a small business, it really helps having access to the micro grant and other support resources. It also helps you learn more about the digital world and how it's a totally separate opportunity (than just brick and mortar) for you to grow your business.”
To learn more about the CDAP program, please visit here.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Meta, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, Ebay and Canada Post.
As part of the Canada Digital Adoption Program, the Government of Canada has partnered with Digital Main Street to deliver the Grow Your Business Online grant to small businesses in Ontario. The program offers eligible business owners a micro-grant of up to $2,400 to help with the costs related to implementing an e-commerce strategy and hands-on support from a network of E-commerce Advisors.