Sydney sweet on new retail concept
Black Velvet, the online pureplay turned bricks and mortar concept store in Darlinghurst, which opened its doors last month, is set on a 69sqm block, and has already caught the eye of Adriano Zumbo, and organisers of Sydney Fashion Week.
Black Velvet’s core product is cupcakes, which drive 60 per cent of sales, but it positions itself as a lifestyle brand, offering handcrafted chocolates, signature tea and coffee blends, 100 per cent natural soy candles and fragrances, bespoke cake designs, and an interior design service.
Founder and owner, Orlando Sanpo, told Inside Retail PREMIUM that since opening, he has been approached by a steady stream of investors wanting to fund Black Velvet’s expansion.
But Sanpo says he will solidify the Black Velvet brand identity first, focusing on building up the Darlinghurst store for a year before expanding.
Next year he will open a second Sydney store in the QVB or the Rocks, followed by two stores in Melbourne in the next three to five years.
The luxurious cupcakery came to fruition after Sanpo, formerly an interior designer, visited Melbourne and saw a superiority in the quality of offering, noticing there was a gap in the Sydney cupcake market.
The jack of all trades, spent the next two years researching the science and art behind making cupcakes, and created recipes for 100 unique flavours.
Each day a maximum of 500 cupcakes in eight to nine flavours are baked personally by Sanpo instore, with one gluten free and vegan selection always on offer.
These sell out daily, and once sold out, customers can sit and have tea, coffee, or chocolate instore, but no more cupcakes will be made until the following day. Sanpo says it’s about creating a luxury feel, and compares Black Velvet to Tiffany or Chanel, where only a certain number of any item is produced.
Weekends are the busiest, with customers often beating down the door to be the first ones in.
“We have four signatures always on offer – lemon vodka, salted caramel, black velvet, and passion velvet – with the other four or five on a daily rotating selection from my 100 recipe flavours,” he said.
These flavours include lychee martini, margarita, bacon and egg with cheese, hot dog, salmon, red velvet, pink velvet, mango velvet, white velvet, blue velvet, the list goes on.
Three of these flavours took out top spots at this year’s 27th Annual Bake Off Awards, with lemon vodka, the Italiano, and black velvet cupcakes, coming first, second, and third respectively. Lemon vodka received a 10 out of 10 rating by dessert buff, Adriano Zumbo.
The Darlinghurst storefront boasts an extravagant window display, designed by Sanpo himself, who drew inspiration from the infamous Breakfast at Tiffany’s scene where Audrey Hepburn gazes longingly through the jeweller’s window, coffee and danish in hand.
Sanpo has replaced the diamonds and jewels of Tiffany with orchids, candles, and luxurious tiered cakes.
The fitout, designed by Sanpo, was again inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Chanel, and features a palette of black and white, which works to make the cupcakes the main focus of the store.
Sanpo has been approached to create a line of bespoke cupcakes for Sydney Fashion Week, and will also design a window display for theoccasion.
The cupcakes collection will include chocolate la Chanel, espresso de Gucci, champagne le LV, Dior martini, and vodka la viva Sydney.
“The window display will have the concept of fashion, food, and art for the Sydney Fashion of Villages, as well as camera, lighting, flashing, bubbles, and cupcake inspirations,” said Sanpo.
Black Velvet will offer free mini cupcakes for the first 300 people instore, free designer cupcakes with box purchases, and a free professional photographer instore from September 20 to 21.