In this series, we talk to people who turned their passion for food and baking into a business idea amidst lockdown and COVID-19 fears. Some have been in the market for years and others saw the new opportunity and took it! These home businesses are changing the game and have overcome the odds of running a business during quarantine. Now with the reimposition of lockdown once more, we talk to home bakers who are operating during these times to deliver the sweet and savoury to your very own doorstep!
For baker, Nushfa Lahir, Pink Platter combines two things she loves the most – cooking and the colour pink! “My cherished childhood memory involves a pink kitchen set and a pink plate! Needless to say, the moment I launched my own platform,I was instantly hit with those memories and hence the name Pink Platter. I consider myself a baker first and then a cook which is why my initial startup is called Baekeh and still very close to my heart.”
Q What do you offer?
Our products include Savouries such as Samosas, Pizzas, Patties, Quiches, Bouchées and Rolls which can be provided frozen as well. A variety of Roast Paan sandwiches are also available.Lasagna, Kunafa, Fiery Wings too which have been a favourite.We also do custom themed decorative cakes and cupcakes which are our main sellers along with Macaroons, profiteroles, eclairs and Monogram Cookies. As far as signature dishes go,my best pick would have to be my 3DJellyArt dessert.
Q When did you start operations?
I have been baking cakes and sweet treats for my family for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until two years ago that I decided to turn it into a small-scale business. My initial start-up mainly consisted of custom theme cakes under the Baekeh platform. Pink Platter is all inclusive with a wide range of baked goods, both sweet and savoury. Baekeh is however still operating where couture cakes are concerned and we are currently in the process of fusing the two platforms to complement each other.
What is it like running your operations during times like these?
Operations have been really challenging during curfew times specially in terms of logistics and sourcing of certified raw materials.We take extreme precautions during these COVID times which means any form of delivery done through our usual delivery platforms are unreliable.I personally deliver my products door to door making sure hygiene is maintained through-out the delivery process and whenever possible the prepared orders are dispatched immediately ensuring the freshness and taste of the product is maintained.
Q How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
Maintaining hygiene has always been a must in my kitchen regardless.With the spike in COVID rates and increased risk,we now periodically check the temperatures of our helpers during working hours.All members in the kitchen must be wearing masks,caps and gloves at all times and should undergo the sanitisation procedures at regular intervals.I really cannot stress on this enough.
How are you handling the second curfew?
This time around things have been better overall. Since we were well informed about a possible curfew we were able to stock up on our ingredients well ahead of time. In order to manage logistics better we have implemented an additional strategy whereby we employ one delivery personnel to dispatch all our orders for the day at a particular time which I believe,reduces the hassle and the risks considerably.
Q What do you enjoy about baking and operating your own home baking business?
I think the biggest advantage for me as a homebaker is to be able to do what I love within the comfort and familiarity of my home where not only am I able to practise my passion but also innovate and explore new ideas in the baking field.
Q How has COVID-19 and the current state of the world changed your business and your baking?
I must say, more than anything, I have this new found respect and understanding for the importance of the availability of day to day food and I think I can confidently say that I have learnt to manage and steer forward regardless of the situation. Positivity is key!
Q How do you see homebakers going forward post Covid?
I believe home bakers have massive scope in the years to come post Covid-19 as I see more and more people placing particular importance in making sure the food they consume comes from a reliable and hygienic source. Not to mention, if we can plough through these COVID times,we have already won half the battle.
Q Any advice to anyone who wants to start their own business?
If you are passionate about something and extremely confident about it, you have no reason to hold yourself back so go for it and you will definitely be successful.
Pink Platters delivers during this current curfew! You can reach them on Instagram (@pinkplatter.slor @baekeh.sl) or through UberEats. They currently accept bank transfers and Cash on Delivery and will soon be accepting online card payments as well.
For established baker, Shynaz Thajudeen, Sweet Panic was a curfew venture that arose from a need to extend her range of goodies on offer. “I wanted to extend my range by making items for sweet tables and wanted to make someone’s sweet buds even sweeter!”
What do you offer?
My best selling products are Cupcakes and Caksicles but other than that I offer Macaroons, Tarts, Cookies, Meringues, Donuts and most of the sweet table items.
q When did you start operations?
I initiated this during the curfew imposed from March – May. I’ve always been baking so I already had my delivery drivers working during lockdown and I thought that it was an open opportunity for me to start Sweet Panic during this time because it was the right time. I thought it was the most suited time for me to start up my venture.
q What was it like running your operations during times like these?
Being able to deliver the items was a huge plus with regard to the curfew. Definitely the number of orders are less compared to normal days, but I was fairly occupied, thanks to my customers.
q How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
First thing I’d say is, even if you’re multitasking, never be messy. If you’re messy, you can’t assure the hygienic aspect of baking.Clean hands, clean baking environment will assure you of a good hygienic standardand we equally impose a strict standard in our preparing and our packaging.
q How are you handling the second curfew?
Well, even if I had succeeded when I started Sweet Panic during the first curfew, reimposition of curfew brought me second thoughts. But I am surprised to be proved wrong because I’ve got more calls than on a normal day for orders and inquiries.
What do you enjoy about baking and operating your own home baking business?
Baking has always been my passion since I was a kid, so I enjoy every bit of it. Running a home baking business which I am passionate about does make me happy and not give me second thoughts.
q How has COVID-19 and the current state of the world changed your business and your baking?
Compared to earlier, the number of orders have reduced, even though I deliver to their doorstep. I think it has affected a lot of good home bakers without orders as they lose their customers to another home baker. But then again, Cakeaholics will still order during any pandemic!
q How do you see homebakers going forward post Covid?
I think they’d actually do well, specially the home bakers who deliver their items to the doorstep will definitely create their own customer base, so that’s a plus post-Covid.
Any advice to anyone who wants to start their own business?
I’d recommend them to start with every area covered like for example, being able to deliver is a huge plus point. So, prepare them hygienically, don’t be a messy baker. Find a delivery option, open up an Instagram account since it’s the major source of marketing and then you’re ready to go.
Sweet Panic delivers during this current curfew! You can place your orders via their social media pages on Instagram and Facebook (@sweetpanic). Payments can be made by bank transfer or cash on delivery.