20 Questions with Stephanie Er, Founder & Creative Director of Cream Pie – Media Agency Interviews

Josiah Neo Media Agency Interviews

Name: Stephanie Er
Role: Founder & Creative Director of Cream Pie
Age: 37 going on 38

The title entrepreneur does little justice to Stephanie Er. With a creative agency, interior design, podcast, brand partnerships, philanthropy and motherhood under her belt, the multi-hyphenate is doing it all. We had a chat with the creative force to figure out her design philosophy, her inspirations, and what it means to be a boss of a boutique agency. 

1. What are your hobbies?

Cars, photography, talking to dogs, travel, hiking, furniture, fashion. I believe you can do anything you set your mind to at any age, so I pick up hobbies along the way; whatever tickles my fancy.

2. What is your favourite movie or TV show and why?

The Dreamers for the great cinematography. Game of Thrones for the great art of war tactics, wardrobe, and dialogue. The Simpsons for a great way of life.

3. Three words people use to describe you:

You would have to ask ‘people’.

4. Three words you use to describe yourself:

ADD, OCD, bouncing.

5. Do you have a daily routine, if so what is it?

On weekdays I’m at the studio most of the day unless I’m out for meetings. We have 2 monthly vino Fridays where we invite friends over for drinks. On the weekends I spend all my free time with my daughter.

stephanie er and daughter ara chi
Image credit: Stephanie Er

6. How is it like juggling your duties at Cream Pie and being an influencer?

I never considered myself of much influence, to be honest. It’s more important for me to work with brands I believe in so that the partnership is organic, and hopefully through that, genuine collaboration people get introduced to a good product.

My work at Cream Pie is no different from the work I do for socials – it is one and the same. I just consider it part of the job. At Cream Pie, the bulk of our work is interior design but we also offer digital marketing services like social media management or content production.

7. Which country is next on your bucket list to travel to?

I don’t really have a bucket list but I will be going to Vancouver at the end of the year.

8. What was the most memorable moment in your career?

When I made enough money to buy myself a Memphis Tawaraya ring. It has been a lifelong design piece I’ve coveted.

9. Tell us a fun fact your team doesn’t know about you:

I have no secrets. They’ve all seen the craziest side of me. I think it’s more like something the general public doesn’t know about me.

I hate paying for ashtrays and rubbish bins, and I am afraid of escalators.

stephanie er
Image credit: Stephanie Er

10. What inspired you to turn Cream Pie from a small enterprise into a full-fledged creative agency?

Cream Pie is still a very small SME. When Covid-19 hit, I had to close my cafe, Sugarfin. I had to move quickly on my feet to decide on my next career path. I’ve been doing creative consultancy on the side for a while and thought that’s the best way to move forward. I had 0 expectations.

In the free time I had due to the cafe closing, I started a podcast Arch Conversations. The co-founder of Two Men Bagels was the one who urged me to start one citing the fact that he enjoyed conversations with me and that I knew lots of interesting people I could put on the cast. 

Through the podcast, talking to several inspiring individuals and how they pivoted during Covid, their energy egged me on to push harder than before. So, I threw myself into Cream Pie. At the time, my friends over at Cru were taking on their latest outlet at Orchard and thought to give me a bit of work, which I’ll always be thankful for.

Much gratitude to Instagram as well. Once I started putting up my work and the fact that I’m openly taking on interior design work, we started getting more inquiries. It was all organic and we haven’t had to spend any money on marketing yet.

11. Tell us more about the office culture at Cream Pie

It is erratic, to put it simply. We have several projects of vastly different scopes. We deal with interior design, product design, social media management, digital marketing content creation and sometimes even small production work.

stephanie er in a studio
Image credit: Stephanie Er

We also have Arch, which is my creative outlet. It is an experimental space where I get to do whatever I want. Within Arch, there are podcasts and merchandise. We do all our shoots in-house, so that takes up quite a bit of time too. 

12. What are some differences between a large design firm and a small boutique agency?

I’ve never worked in a large firm before but I’m guessing there’s a lot more structure. And working in an SME means you have to be a multi-tasker. People think starting a company or being a boss is this glamorised job when really, I think the entrepreneur has to work harder than anyone in the room.

13. How do you help your team combat mental fatigue and creative blocks?

We drink and I give them life advice. These days to be a leader is to also become a mentor.

14. Which project(s) are you the proudest of?

I’m more like an artist. The latest project will always be my favourite. I hardly look back at old work. I am always looking into the future and the progress of the work.

15. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Nature and observation. We have eyes but we hardly use them for observation. Anything can inspire me and I would have to take a photo or make a note because I never know when they will come back to inspire a project.

16. How do you think your design philosophy has evolved over the years?

I was a lot more idealistic when I first started. Now, I believe design encompasses mostly numbers. The budget of the client has the largest impact on the entire process. We are restricted by budgets. So now, when the design produced within the budget and delivered on time creates the maximum impact desired, that’s considered a huge win.

stephanie er
Image credit: Stephanie Er

17. Is creativity inherent or nurtured? If the latter, how do you cultivate it? 

Inherent. You can copy or take inspiration and still be famous but you cannot teach someone to create.

18. What are the top three qualities you look for when hiring?

Introvert, willing to learn, open to change.

19. Any exciting agency developments (projects, new hires, expansion plans) you’d like to draw our attention to? 

I’ve partnered with By Canary to design a small capsule collection. I also hosted a podcast with Big Love, a child protection centre as By Canary will donate 10% of sales proceeds to Big Love, the charity of my choice. I am a big advocate of child abuse prevention and awareness.

We are in the midst of 3 residential ID projects, 3 commercial ID projects, designing an angbao for a marine client for 2023, launching Arch Supplies S04 and Arch Conversations 7.0 and last but not least executing creative collaterals for Mandala Weekender, a 3-day music festival held over the course of the F1 weekend.

20. What do you hope to achieve at Cream Pie in the next year?

I have no goals. Life is an open road, I do not wish to restrict myself. The sky is no longer the limit, the entire galaxy is at your disposal if you will it.

Related links:

Cream Pie website
Stephanie Er Instagram

This post is part of our Media Industry Leaders series. If you’d like to be featured, or have a nominee in mind, please drop us a note at [email protected].


Cover image credit: Stephanie Er

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