More Than Just A Froyo Bar

RECENT VISITORS TO THE FOUR-YEAR OLD SOGURT STORE at Kallang Wave Mall would no doubt have noticed that it looks different from before. Gone is the dark wood furniture; in its place are lighter colours, creating a more casual, welcoming vibe. Sogurt's menu has also been revamped. In addition to its signature self-serve frozen yogurt (froyo) bar, with a multitude of flavours and toppings, customers can now try new offerings such as grain bowls, toasties and desserts. These changes are part of a brand repositioning effort by Sogurt's founder, Lee Li Ping, who reopened the outlet in June 2018 as KARA By Sogurt. Li Ping, 31, dishes on her journey as an F&B entrepreneur — and what has her so excited about the future.

You opened Sogurt's first store in Bukit Timah in 2010. What motivated you to do so?

While studying in Los Angeles, I developed a love for froyo and ate it every day. I also took an entrepreneurship module in university that helped shape my aspirations, as I chose for my final-year project to submit a business plan for a froyo concept in Singapore. After I came back home, I still craved for froyo but couldn't find a satisfying substitute, and ultimately decided to start my own business.

Why go through brand restructuring now?

There are now more froyo players in the market, and customers have higher expectations. A few years ago, we had more than 10 Sogurt outlets; currently only three are left — at Bukit Timah, The Star Vista and Kallang Wave Mall. To keep up with trends, we relaunched the Bukit Timah flagship store as KARA Café & Dessert Bar last year. Our newly-reopened Kallang Wave Mall outlet is modelled after the same concept. Our self-serve froyo bar is still featured, but is now housed under a larger café experience with an "all-day dining" menu with grain bowls, toasties, desserts, soft-serve ice cream and healthy drinks. Another new product is Sogurt Spoonful, froyo ice cream with live cultures, which is available for event catering. With this expanded menu, we aim to retain our loyal fan base and capture a more diverse crowd.

What does KARA mean?

On one level, KARA sounds like qarah, the Hebrew word for "being at the right place at the right time". This describes our efforts at reinvention while still evoking an ambience that is conducive to chilling out; it also reflects my entrepreneurship journey. KARA is also an alternative spelling of cara, which is Italian for "beloved". This fits with our brand values of Love, Joy and Friendships.

Sum up your experience as one of Kallang Wave Mall's pioneer tenants since 2014.

Business has picked up, especially in the last year. More large-scale events are being held at Sports Hub, bringing in crowds to the mall. Its vibrant tenant mix attracts different groups of customers. Most of all, this location is the right fit for us — Sports Hub promotes good health, and froyo is not only yummy but healthy. Our recipe is low in fat and high in calcium. Our Sogurt Spoonful cups also contain live active cultures of good bacteria, or probiotics.

How do you de-stress?

I like reading and taking long walks. That’s another bonus of being based at Kallang Wave Mall — I often go for walks along the Kallang River, which has scenic views.

KARA by Sogurt is located at #01-46 Kallang Wave Mall. Open daily from 11am to 10.30pm. Tel: 6468 8940.