Thursday, 14 September 2017

How did MONICE BAKES started?

I've probably mentioned this on my blog a few times before - I quitted my full time job in April 2017 to pursue my baking passion and to focus on my business - MONICE BAKES.

I'm always happy to share about my baking story whenever people ask about it.

So how did MONICE BAKES started? (I hope I don't bore you too much!)

I always had an interest in baking when I was younger. I wouldn't say it started out as a real passion (It has never crossed my mind to be an aspiring baker when I grow up), it was just something casual I enjoyed doing. I used to only bake simple comfort food like cookies and muffins. But one fine day, my oven broke down and I couldn't bake anymore... I just didn't bother much and waited till my house renovation.

After a new oven was installed, my interest for baking was rekindled. Even so, I was only baking leisurely for about a year. During that point of time, I was regularly watching cupcake videos on Youtube and one of my inspiration was Cupcake Jemma. I started to try out doing basic buttercream recipes and playing around with piping tips. Realisation struck me that I actually really love decorating cakes!

You can see from the photos below that the cakes were not really up to standard for selling yet. I was thankful that people actually supported me back then.

I still remember that this was the very first batch of cupcakes I baked together with Serene - Smores cupcakes. And also my very first time trying out fondant! 

I didn't even know that fondant is best kept in air-con or room temperature areas. 

I found piping rosettes such a fascinating and satisfying thing to do. I guess I still do, but definitely more used to it now. 

I was still working with American buttercream as I wasn't aware of the different choices I had. American Buttercream is very gritty because of the icing sugar, and it doesn't really suit Asian palate. You should have seen my excitement when my Swiss Meringue Buttercream was successful for the first time! 

This 2 tier cake looked like it was going to topple anytime. I didn't even use the correct technique at all. 

I started experimenting with different recipes and decorating styles. Everything was very basic back then. I posted photos of my bakes on my Instagram and randomly come up with hashtag #monicebakes simply just to keep track. I always had an interest in Art and my skills were put to good use. There was once when I took part in Kiss92 contest for a simple dream caption and photo. I was called on a random morning to answer a few questions live. (Actually I was so shy)

This was the exact photo I submitted. 

"My dream is to create beautiful and delicious bakes for others to appreciate. Because it gives me a sense of satisfaction whenever I finish every piece of "artwork" and I'll never want to stop doing what I love." (3 May 2015)

People around me were being really supportive and nice. After sharing photos on my Instagram regularly, I started receiving feedback to start selling my bakes and some even wanted to be my first customer. *THANKFUL!!!*

I did procrastinate a little before building enough confidence to really start selling. When I first started in May 2015, I just uploaded a simple album on my personal Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to buy. A few friends supported me almost immediately and I also had some customers from Carousell. I still remember that my very first order was 50 Baby Shower cookies. I was really lucky to also receive another 200 cookie order which motivated me to go on.

I only started selling cakes at a much later time as they were much more challenging to work with. I also didn't really like the texture of butter cakes. And sponge cakes were a little more delicate to get the recipe right. But after several tries, my sponge cake became successful! I feel that sponge cakes will be the preferred cake choice as it is much lighter, fluffier and not as sweet (My customers tell me this too!)

And this is my FIRST sponge cake! 

I was soooo happy when the sponge cake didn't crack or over rise. 

Besides cookies, cupcakes, cakes, tarts and brownies, I have also tried baking egg tarts, swiss rolls, cream puffs, eclair, bread, pizza, macarons, meringues and more. But I won't be selling them at the moment.

I miss baking eclairs! They're actually quite simple to make. 

So how did my logo come about? It was really a random thought of incorporating a piping bag into my logo as it's the focal point of cake decoration. I intentionally connected my brand name with the icing in the bag. That's the whole point of cake decorating right? And my brother helped me transform my drawing into digital format.

Btw, I'm really bad at names. I think I should be really thankful that I was given a unique name by my parents. And since I was already known for my hashtag among my friends, I just conveniently used it as the brand name. At least it's something really personal, and I know I won't regret in the future.


Baking is not the only satisfaction I gain from my business. I enjoy doing customization for my customers and I really really love doing marketing for my own brand. Being able to enjoy from so many different aspects of my business is something I'm definitely grateful for.

Being in this saturated industry is not easy as online homebakers are on the rise due to the accessibility of social media platforms. It's easy to just bake a cake and sell, but to really stand out from the rest is challenging with so much competition. There are surely times when I feel less confident, but I am thankful for those who have been supporting my business so far.

If you have read till the end of this post, thank you for your time!  

Oh! And if you're interested in my trying out my bakes, do take part in this giveaway below! 

Children’s Day is just around the corner! Thevenin Boards and Monice Bakes will be giving away 3 boxes of skateboard-themed cupcakes and 5 sets of $10 bakesale vouchers.

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