Natasha Chiam, 29

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Singhealth Special -

WAS: Writer at a women’s mag­a­zine NOW: Di­rec­tor, The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. (­cream­cook­ieco. com), a small-batch, pre­mium dessert man­u­fac­turer that also makes cakes, brown­ies, cook­ies, and whole­sale ice cream for cafes and restau­rants. “Be­tween March 2011 and Fe­bru­ary 2013, I worked as a writer at Fe­male mag­a­zine. I loved my job but I also loved to make desserts, and my business was born out of a crav­ing for ice cream sand­wiches and my week­end hobby of bak­ing.

“I made my first ice cream sand­wiches at home, as I felt like eat­ing them. They re­ally hit the spot, and shortly after, I de­cided to make them for friends and fam­ily. Even­tu­ally, I started sell­ing them at week­end mar­kets. Even then, I saw it as a pas­time, not a business ven­ture.

“But over the six months that I was jug­gling my business and day job, time man­age­ment be­came a big is­sue. I gave up per­sonal time – no more yoga classes or sleep­ing in. I’d work un­til about 6pm or 7pm, then come home and bake cook­ies and make ice cream un­til 2am or 3am.

“One day, a col­league pointed out that I had flour on my pants. I hadn’t even no­ticed – that’s how tired I was. And that was when I thought: I re­ally need to change how I’m do­ing this. I couldn’t do both with­out com­pro­mis­ing on qual­ity. I had to choose one.

“Once I made the leap, I was com­mit­ted to mak­ing my prod­ucts the best in their cat­e­gory. After all, with­out a great prod­uct, it doesn’t mat­ter how much fi­nan­cial back­ing you have, or how slick your brand­ing is – you will have noth­ing to sell.

“On a typ­i­cal work­day, I man­age the kitchen staff and or­ders. I also work on sales and mar­ket­ing. There are all kinds of chal­lenges, from man­ag­ing staff to deal­ing with sup­pli­ers and an­swer­ing the e-mail and phone queries we re­ceive. But I love ev­ery sec­ond of it.

“As a business owner, I feel more in con­trol of my ca­reer and fi­nan­cial des­tiny. It’s also sat­is­fy­ing. Once, we catered at a mu­sic fes­ti­val and almost ev­ery­one there was eat­ing our ice cream sand­wiches. That was a re­ally proud mo­ment for me. It feels good too to know that I can grow my business even more – I’m cur­rently look­ing at re­gional ex­pan­sion, which is ex­cit­ing.”

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