Transforming our artistic impulses into a business could be full of bittersweet challenges. However, if you could turn your passion into a profession, you should just go for it. This Cheras turned PJ gal decided to pursue her passion for baking and started up Add On Bakery.
Carmen Wong, the girl behind this online bakery, shared with us how she’d always been watching her mother bake since she was young. But being a little girl and afraid of making a mess, her mother would keep her away from the kitchen as she would always be busy making and selling her homemade cookies on and mooncakes during festive seasons.
Though in time, that didn’t stop Carmen from baking and she even had help from her mother when she started Add On Bakery.
Get to know Carmen
What are the most unforgettable memories and unspeakable challenges that you have faced during the start of the business?
My mom helped me a lot when I just started Add On. There were many errors and she advised and assisted me because she saw how stressful I was. That was my favourite moment because she could scream at me and still help me at the same time. The first challenge that I faced was the marketing part. For newbies like me, the easiest and common way to market Add On was to just keep sharing my post and stories on Instagram and Facebook. Word of mouth is very important too so I had to make sure my products are good enough for people to share with their friends and family.
Which treats of yours are your bestsellers and why?
My bestsellers are my Lemon Cheesecake Tartlets. I guess people liked it because of its refreshing lemon custard that compliments perfectly with the New York cheesecake filling inside. On top of that, we use pure butter for the Pâte Sablée tart crust.
What makes your desserts stand out compared to the rest of them out there?
I love to see when others enjoy my creation especially my family. I remember I brought some freshly baked tarts home and let my mom try it (she’s a super-duper picky eater and will always have critics against most of the pastries I baked). The first bite she took, her eyes twitched a little as it was a lemon cheesecake tartlet. Then she told me it was very refreshing and the cheesecake is not “jelak”. To me, that was the first “stand out” that I felt for my pastries because my picky mom gave me green light.
How did you manage to get customers? Is it mainly IG or? What did you do to market your side business?
My first few customers were my friends. Then through word of mouth, it helped me gain new customers. Then I started Instagram Ads and from there I got more new customers.
How do you cope with rejection? Both professionally and personally.
Actually, I’m quite an emotional person. So if someone comes up to me and tells me that my products are expensive, I’ll start to recalculate my costing and all. But how many people can I please in this world? There’s always someone who would comment and criticize the things that you do no matter how good your products are or how affordable the price is. I think one most important note that I have to remember is that these are the consequences that I have to learn to accept if I want to come out into society. Accept comments and criticism positively and don’t let it affect my emotions or decisions.
Throughout your life, were there any regrets? If yes, what would you re-do if you could go back in time?
My regret was I started baking late. I went to fulfil my dream job instead of doing what I like the most. If I had the chance to make a decision again, I would’ve started my baking journey much earlier.
How do you stay true to yourself and what’s your definition of success?
To me, being successful is not just about making money or getting fame. Being successful is when people enjoy my sweet treats or when I improve my products when it’s been commented/criticized. The feeling of success is much greater than looking successful.
What can you share with those who are planning to start up a side business?
Always be sure of what you like and capable of. If you really like doing something, start practising it instead of just looking at others doing it. Who knows, it might benefit you in terms of growing your inner confidence and getting some profit out of it. There’s really not much to lose if you have a passion for doing what you like. Because even if it doesn’t work out at the end of the day, you can tell yourself that you actually enjoyed what you were doing all this while.