Natasha Chiam, 29
WAS: Writer at a women’s magazine NOW: Director, The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. (www.icecreamcookieco. 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.”