Once you become a mum, it’s hard enough to get a simple home-cooked meal onto the table when you have at least one pair of little hands vying for your attention! As for baking, that’s a whole other ball game together, because you have to measure out exact quantities of various items before putting the bun in the oven. So it’s no mean feat that these two women, each with two or more young children, have managed to put their passion into action and started their very own home baking business. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Meet Christina, who enjoys working with fondant for most of her cake. We asked them to share about how she manages to juggle business and family, and what inspired her to get started on these ventures in the first place.
Related post: Meet our first home baker Clydia Mak, http://thenewageparents.com/mothers-who-bake-happy-home-baker-1/
Happy Home Baker #2: Christina Mah-Cheah, 32
1. What made you decide to start a home baking business?
My mother taught me to cook at the age of 13. She taught me to cook Chinese food, but I enjoy Western dishes and dessert and so, with the skills set that she taught me, I picked up preparing those on my own. My family and friends enjoyed my food and started encouraging me to sell my bakes. There was a lot of support and it felt like a natural thing to do – doing what I do best and enjoying it. When my children came along, it made sense to make a business out of it as it allows me to plan my work around caring for them.
2. What kind of bakes do you enjoy doing?
I make mostly children’s 2D and 3D novelty birthday cakes – you know, the usual cartoon, animal characters and superhero, princess stuff. But I do get the occasional adult type designs, which can be pretty interesting to do as I like the change. I also love the challenge of uncommon designs such as a golf ball cake, a humongous apple-shaped cake, and a standing up Triceratops cake, which I made for my friends’ parties.
I’ve been told my cakes are moist and tasty. The popular flavours are the chocolate based ones. I use premium 70% dark Belgium chocolate couverture and its semi-sweet endnote is very suited to our Asian palette. However, I personally think that my carrot cake, red velvet and Chocolate Hazelnut praline cakes are my best flavours.
I also bake breads and cookies, but they are mostly for family consumption only.
3. How do you run your household and a business at the same time?
With lots of planning ahead and keeping to the schedule. I must admit though – many times when I’m enjoying my time with my children, I’ve gone off schedule and (hahaha) panicked after the kids have been put to bed! I do depend on gut feel too, especially since I get stressed to be perfect in what I do, so even if it means having to stay up late into the night to complete something that my gut tells me to finish “by tonight”, I will, by hook or crook! And then I wake up a zombie the next morning from insufficient sleep.
My husband helps manage our three children when I have a lot of work to complete, which is usually from Thursday onwards as most people want their cakes for the weekend.
4. What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
There are the times when my children are ill, or do not co-operate by insisting on skipping their naps, and that gets my schedule all topsy turvy and stressful. On a few occasions, I was unable to fulfill cake flavours according to a request due to the unavailability of certain ingredients or non-season of some fruits.
God has been good and people who order cakes from me have mostly been very pleasant. There have been a handful who were nasty, but it’s a good reminder to always keep my standards high.
5. What do you like about running Chris’ Pantry?
The job satisfaction I get from the finished product and the positive feedback I get. My children are my biggest fan! And my husband, my biggest critic – I give my 100%, but he will make sure I give my 110% – just in case, I get sloppy.
I also like the challenge of pushing myself. The work-out I get from this baking business and running all other roles in the home simultaneously sort of completes me!
Another thing I like is the control I have over being able to choose the orders I can or cannot take. My family is my priority, so they come first.
6. Do you have any tips for those who are interested to start something similar?
Aim high, but always be contented. That way, you would want to work to achieve better things, but yet be happy for the things that you have.
Practice makes perfect. Work on your product and feed your family and friends until you get the best product, before you sell it. Never offer anyone what you would not want yourself.
Follow her blog: www.chrispantry.blogspot.sg
Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dorothea Chow