Happy is the man who can make a living with his hobby
It’s the dream of many to be able to do what they enjoy for a living. Waking up everyday, excited to actually want to go to work and actually enjoy weekdays. This year it’s been incredibly tough to enjoy work, with the entire global economy screeching to half and many industries becoming a victim of COVID too.
And yet there are still some people who managed to get in touch with their entrepreneurial side. There’s actually no better time than now to try and turn your hobby into something more than a side gig. Switching careers or trying something new wouldn’t be as tough, with many people looking for career changes or even alternative sources of income.
Turning to baking and cooking
When it comes to homegrown businesses, most would turn to baking and cooking. During COVID, home bakeries started to flourish as everyone start buying sweet treats as personal indulgences or to surprise a friend.
Here are some inspiring home bakers who took the leap during these troubled times to pursue their hobbies. And it worked!
Bake Share Eat
Started by an ex pre-school teacher who was encouraged to return to Singapore in the midst of her further studies. Bake Share Eat grew a huge loyal fanbase that even boasts influencer Naomi Neo. Mariko, who runs the business from her own kitchen, was encouraged by her husband to start selling her bakes, who provides her support by helping stir the pot and delivering her bakes while balancing his own full time job.
Documenting her baking adventures on Instagram, every single pastry goes through extensive trial and error to ensure only the most indulgent bakes make it into their customers tummies. Dig into crunchy monster cookies filled with gooey insides, hulk brownies, and brown buttered madeleines, all packed into surprise bake boxes.
Chng spent the past six years at restaurants such as Meta, Kimme, the now-defunct Wild Rocket and, most recently, Roketto Izakaya. Even though he was cooking for a living, he wanted to start his own thing to be able to create dishes he loved. Deciding to pick condiments as one of the foods he is passionate about, he started Umami Boy. Dedicated to umami flavors, the Umami XO Sauce is made from seafood ingredients like dried shrimps, dried scallops and Japanese whitebait, pairing well with both Chinese and Western cuisines.
Chng has also paired up with other chefs for pop-ups selling packages of his condiments with dishes like carrot cake and Lap Mei glutinous rice. For aspiring home chefs, Umami Boy’s Instagram page also has recipe recommendations and the occasional XO sauce carrot cake food porn.
During this time, COVID opened up his eyes to the endless possibilities of F&B, even through e-commerce. His next goal is to establish his physical presence through a permanent retail space.
Spending more time at home during circuit breaker led SMU undergrad Maribelle Su to launch her own bake sales to share her love for baking with others. Driven to create new recipes and exciting pastries, Maribelle started devoting more time to experimenting with flavor combinations.
Her popular creations include a glazed earl grey loaf, thick chewy cookies with peanut butter fudge, and cinnamon smores midnight brownies.
Taking a step back, she realized that “starting a business in such an uncertain time isn’t impossible”, having learnt that taking risks and pressure from competition actually drove her to work harder and innovate better.
As school starts opening up and circuit breaker restrictions being slowly lifted, Maribelle still keeps to weekend bake sales to keep her hobby turned side gig income going.
Christopher Kang started Dearborn as a supper club before COVID shut them down. With him and his wife out of a job, the F&B industry was faltering at an alarming speed. Desperate, he decided to sell granola as a last resort and was surprised by the overwhelming response.
Every week, Christopher whips up a new batch of granola, which can come packed with fresh fruits like mango, coconut, and orange. Occasionally chocolate and nuts make it into the mix too. Once, he sold out in 2 minutes!
In a short few months, Christopher moved from his house to a production kitchen in town. If something so simple as granola can be so popular, he might just be the next granola magnate waiting to be noticed by investors.
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