Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
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MONTREAL MAKER SERIES: MEET REEMA SINGH

We are starting off the week with another installment in our Montreal Maker Series! This edition features the lovely and effervescent baker Reema Singh. We made her a Sienna Maker Jacket without sleeves (they would just get covered in chocolate!) and then took some shots of her in her adorable shop.  I’ve known Reema for years as THE local baker and maker of dense, delicious- not too sweet- cakes and cupcakes. Her shop Cocoa Locale has been at the same location for 15 years and though her offerings are ever evolving I can always tell a Reema cake as it’s being taken out of the box. Not one for fancy decorations or showy icing, her treats are more about taste than anything else (her cakes were the first ones I saw with edible flowers on simple white icing…the prettiest.) With flavours like chocolate chai cake, peach maple tarts, and spicy brownies, she never loses her sense of play and adventure in her baking and her shop follows its owner’s lead by being whimsical and romantic while remaining consistent and affordable.

How does she balance such a demanding job while staying so sunny and bright (she seriously beams light)? By setting lots of boundaries and keeping her eye on the prize. I admire the steadfastness with which Reema has approached her making practice. She sets strict limits and then can play within those parameters. She doesn’t take orders, she doesn’t Instagram her treats and she doesn’t wake up at 5am! By setting up a life which is both creative and sustainable, she has ensured she has the energy to do this for the long term and I think that is something we can all respect and learn from.

So without further ado, let’s sneak into the cutest little cake shop in Montreal and see what this baker is cooking up.

Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns

Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns

What is your baking philosophy or style?

My shop and baking is really all about everyday people, eating everyday cake. It’s an old fashioned concept, a happy trade to go next to the butcher and candlestick maker (if you will).  I make a fresh batch everyday,  and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I like when things run out. I like things that are seasonal. It gives everyone something to look forward to and keeps a little wonder to life – “will I get a cake today?  Will she have my favourite?” Keeping the experience on a daily, whimsical realm is important to me.

Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns

Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns

What is your process for evaluating your menu? How do you choose what stays/goes/when it’s time to add a new offering?

I decide what I’m making in the shower and don’t take orders.  That way, I make exactly what I wish to and everything is made from a full, creative heart.

Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
How have you set up your life /work balance to be sustainable for the long-term?
I try and protect myself from overworking on a daily basis by building parameters for my customers (ie: I sleep in,  I take two entire days off,  I don’t take special requests) to ensure I have the happy energy to do this for many years to come.  Same hands, same recipes, same pans, same oven, consistency in baking are essential and I think it is the basis of my shop.
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
Most businesses these days focus a lot on building a strong online presence, yet Cocoa Locale is doing very well without it. What are your thoughts or advice on building a successful business offline?
I wanted to make my work emulate my lifestyle.  So, as a Ludite, I just focus on the work, the smiling customers and the product. It’s an in-shop experience, and the smell of butter, no online presence can capture that.
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case PatternsSleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
What is your favourite part of running your business?
Being let into peoples lives, for special celebrations, for funerals, for weekday dinner parties, for breakups and births. It’s a true honour and it’s the part of the job that I least expected. It’s a community connection and it keeps me motivated to always do my best.
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
Do you listen to music or podcasts when you bake? 
I listen to classical music when the shop is open and switch to top 40 and hip hop when the doors are closed!  I eat a little sweet after every meal and still, somehow, after 15 years at the shop still love cake.
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns
Sleeveless Sienna Maker Jacket for Reema // handmade by Closet Case Patterns

Thank you Reema!

Fit notes:

For Reema’s Sienna, we removed the sleeves at her request. It gets warm in a bakery and she wanted something she could use in lieu of an apron that would still keep her cool. This is a super simple modification! All we did was assemble the jacket up until attaching the sleeves. We basted the side seams in place and tried it on her. Using pins, we folded under the raw edge of the armscye until we got a shape we liked, which meant removing width through the shoulder and a little around the front and back of the arm opening. We marked the new finished seam line, trimmed the armscye down and then finished the opening with matching bias all the way around to create a clean, durable edge.

Pattern details: Sienna Maker Jacket (size 4 without sleeves), Ventana Twill in Ice Blue.