Bank­ing to bak­ing

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family - – By Sheela Chandran

MELISSA Ramakrishnan was am­bi­tious and fo­cused on her ca­reer as an as­so­ci­ate risk spe­cial­ist through­out her 10-year stint at Bank Ne­gara.

But the ar­rival of her son, Ra­nen Raphael, shifted her pri­or­i­ties, and Melissa de­cided she needed to be home with him af­ter learn­ing that he had al­ler­gies and re­quired spe­cial di­etary re­quire­ments.

“I en­joyed my bank­ing ca­reer but I wanted to fo­cus on look­ing af­ter my son. Plus, my hus­band was fi­nan­cially sta­ble and we could man­age,” says the 37-yearold Melissa who ten­dered her res­ig­na­tion in 2015.

Soon af­ter that, Melissa be­gan ex­plor­ing other means of earn­ing an in­come from home.

“I grew up in a fam­ily of many ac­com­plished cooks and bak­ers. My mother has been my source of in­spi­ra­tion. I started off as her lit­tle helper and over the years, I’ve man­aged to pick up a few fam­ily se­crets passed down from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other.

“My sig­na­ture sugee al­mond recipe was cre­ated by my great-grand­mother and is over 80 years old,” says Melissa who set up RR Home­made Cook­ies & Cakes and RR Am­mama Home de­lights, spe­cial­is­ing in cakes and pickles. “RR” are the ini­tials of her son’s name.

Her sig­na­ture bakes are orange wal­nut cake and moist choco­late cake. She is also proud of her gar­lic salted fish pickle, mango pickle and dried shrimp sam­bal.

Melissa, who holds a Masters in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, never planned a run a home busi­ness. But her pas­sion for bak­ing has opened up the op­por­tu­nity for her to earn some in­come.

Last year, she joined Car­ing Moms, an on­line plat­form for mothers to sell and buy. It opened up a mar­ket for Melissa’s of­fer­ings, and busi­ness flour­ished for the Serem­ban-based home baker, with or­ders even com­ing from the Klang Val­ley.

“Busi­ness has been great. I’ve turned from a bank em­ployee to baker. I’m slowly learn­ing about be­ing in busi­ness, in­clud­ing the chal­lenges. The ex­pe­ri­ences have made me wiser and stronger,” shares Melissa, who has come up with a busi­ness model to mar­ket her prod­ucts.

In­stead of treat­ing bak­ing as a hobby, she now has the mind­set of run­ning it as a busi­ness which gen­er­ates monthly in­come.

“My aim is to be a suc­cess­ful home-based en­tre­pre­neur who can jug­gle be­tween rais­ing my son, manag­ing my home while grow­ing my busi­ness from the com­forts of home.”

Melissa is also for­tu­nate to have the sup­port of her mother, home­maker Stella Ben­dicta, 67, and her hus­band, tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant Praveen An­thony, 39.

“My hus­band is a huge sup­porter when I par­tic­i­pate in bazaars. He goes all out to help me with lo­gis­tics and set-up. My mother is my ul­ti­mate back-up; she helps to look af­ter Ra­nen when­ever I am busy with cake or­ders.”

Be­tween a chance to climb the cor­po­rate lad­der or be­ing a stay at home mom, Melissa says: “I am able to spend qual­ity time at home while earn­ing a de­cent in­come. The time and flex­i­bil­ity to be with Ra­nen is price­less. The best bit is I can plan my time ac­cord­ing to my avail­abil­ity.

“We must be happy with what we do each day. Fol­low what you are pas­sion­ate about. Es­sen­tially, no one can help you bet­ter than your­self. Take a step for­ward and make a dif­fer­ence. I am a strong be­liever that women are born to do won­ders.”

— UU BAN/The Star

Melissa left her ca­reer in bank­ing to care for her son, and turned to bak­ing to earn some in­come when there was de­mand for her cakes.

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