Starting a home-based business is no easy feat. Opening one during the peak of COVID-19 serves to challenge that notion even further. For Nurul Adilah, founder and baker of Daisybakes, it’s about persevering through.

Daisybakes, a local home bakery, serves up artisanal non-baked cheesecakes in many popular flavours. Adilah, a former bank customer service associate, was spurred to set up her own business due to every Gen Z’s favourite app — TikTok.

“During Phase 1 of the pandemic where we were all quarantined to our homes, I was obsessively scrolling through TikTok and got inspired by baking tutorials,” Adilah shares. “Phase 2 of the pandemic was when I decided to turn this into a full-fledged business and thus resigned from my full-time job in the finance industry. Initially, it was a trial process to see if the business would work out. But when I got positive reviews from my customers, I gained the confidence to keep hustling.”

Making the leap

Her career change might seem like a 180-degree switch, but Adilah pivoted her business background to her advantage. “Being a Business Management graduate, that helped to kickstart Daisybakes. I was then able to curate an explicit business plan within a short time frame,” the savvy business owner says. “In this digital era, leveraging off social media was the best way to promote my business.”

Besides using her resources to her advantage, Adilah also took in the different perceptions of a potential customer. “Diversifying my postings for a mass target audience was something I thought through for a while,” Adilah also revealed. In the early days of the business, she relied a lot on infographics to illustrate what customers could expect in every cheesecake purchased. To her disappointment, that did not manage to garner much attention. She then made the switch from illustrations to raw images of her actual bakes for better visualisation, which garnered a much better response.

Tough times don’t last, tough people do

Starting up a business from scratch isn’t as glamorous as the public perceives. “The constant worries of whether my customers will love what I bake never fades,” Adilah revealed, “If you do feel like starting a business, [my advice is to] just go for it, but in whatever you do always seek the blessing of your parents. Ultimately, the support of my family is what kept me going.”

Business owners will be familiar with the strive for perfection in their businesses. For Adilah, it’s no different. She shared how she initially started Daisybakes using premium ingredients, with the thought that it would be able to generate the best flavours. “Honestly, the first few months were unprofitable, and it did make me wonder if this [business] would work out.”

The 24-year-old owner pulled through by sourcing for lower-grade ingredients, which has managed to cover up her losses and breakeven her goods’ cost. “If you are sincere in whatever you do, not only concerning baking, everything will eventually fall in place.” Adilah urges aspiring business owners to focus on the fact that it isn’t entirely about the cost, but that everything you do has to come from the heart.

A home-based business owner on making a career switch amidst the pandemic
“Each post takes hours to curate.” Image: Nurul Adilah

Undoubtedly, running a business has its ups and downs, and it’s perfectly fine to hit rock bottom at some point in time. Whether it’s the loss of sales, a mental block when it comes to crafting out new ideas, or even the fear of getting a bad review, the business can only persevere through if you are unwavering. “It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop,” she shares.

In a business, it is essential to always spare some time to reflect upon what could have been done differently and mitigate the problem. For aspiring business owners, Adilah advises,” When your business is at its peak, it’s never a time to be complacent. As we all know, these moments don’t last. Continue hustling and leverage on them, even if it means to pre-launch a new flavour, go for it!”

It’s the little things that sparks joy

Since its establishment earlier this year, Daisybakes has launched four cheesecake flavours: Nutella-rocher, Kinder Bueno, Oreo and Speculoos.

In a surprising twist, the Oreo flavour hasn’t been faring well amongst Daisybakes’s customers, despite it being a classic and well-loved flavour for cheesecake lovers. In her spirit of perseverance, the business owner is determined to continue improving it. “Unfortunately, it has been one of the low selling ones. But I will certainly be progressively improving my cheesecakes, perhaps with the use of a variety of ingredients.”

The business owner was also uncertain when it came to creating the Kinder Bueno flavour, but it made her realise that business owners should try be open to taking risks. “Creating the Kinder Bueno cheesecake was indeed a gamble knowing it is not in the market as of [this moment]. But as the saying goes: ‘If you never try, you’ll never know.’Adilah mused. After all, starting your own business is already a gamble in itself, so it wouldn’t hurt to grab more opportunities.

Looking ahead, the ever-creative baker plans on introducing new flavours, Salted caramel as well as Singapore-inspired flavours such as MILO and Ovaltine. Expansion of the business is also in talks, and Adilah has intentions to launch a variety of bakes apart from mere cheesecakes.

Inspired by Malaysian artist and business owner, Yaya Zahir, cookies are at the top of the list for her business expansion plans. “[During] lockdown, I occasionally scroll through social media and [saw] bakes from other countries like Yaya’s. I figured I would try replicating her cookies for Singaporeans, since air-travel is halted for a fair bit longer than expected.”

Apart from cookies, Adilah shares her aspiration to pass down her grandmother’s legacy, who has a tradition of making salted caramel puddings for special occasions. “If it can put a smile on my customers as it did to my family, I would love to sell it,” she says.

*For December 2020 to January 2021, 10% of each purchase will be directed to the funds of Wishforryan, a boy diagnosed with Muscular Spinal Atrophy.

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