It’s been a devastating year for the restaurant industry, more than 2,000 eateries in Malaysia were forced to shut down permanently since the pandemic started. The entire service industry was thrown into a tailspin, but chefs soon came to realise that they were still able to work from home. Social media connected home cooks, and hobbyists, with the hungry and bored. The rapidly growing business opportunity was so attractive that every time you opened Instagram, a new home-based food venture would pop up. It was, after all, a fast and easy way to earn money during a time of job losses and pay cuts.
Our stay-at-home scrolling habits created an even bigger demand for delicious, and eye-catching, desserts. Even those with little or no experience in baking were able to cash in on their new MCO hobby. One of these successful passion projects is Nis.Bakes – an online dessert shop that offers simple yet unique flavours such as rose pistachio, earl grey, and maple cinnamon cupcakes and cakes. The founder, Enisa Farith, is a PR and Marketing specialist who simply wanted to recreate the rose pistachio tres leche cake from L’eto in London for herself, but it turned out to be such a scroll-stopping treat (now their signature cake) that others wanted a taste. She then went on to make an Instagram page for her decadent desserts, and the rest is history. Read on to see how you can also start your own home-based food business with advice from this new baker.
View this post on Instagram
How long did you start planning and researching before launching your business?
It was a very spontaneous decision. I reckon I probably spent about one week researching prices, sourcing ingredients, coming up with the brand identity I wanted to convey, etc. before launching it. I first sold the cakes to people I knew before advertising it on social media – after my fourth attempt at baking the cake, I didn’t have much time on my hands and couldn’t wait to bake all the basics before learning how to bake a cake, so I relied heavily on YouTube. Baking is really about understanding the science, so perfecting the cake came after many attempts.
How did you know what to price your products?
I visited and analysed my competitors’ Instagram pages to gauge a preliminary sense of pricing. I really had no clue in the beginning, so I also asked friends and family how much they were willing to pay. The ingredients I use as well are of premium quality and most are imported, so that resonated with the prices I introduced. And of course, I took into account the costs to produce the baked goods.
What challenges did you face starting a business during the pandemic?
It didn’t take very long for me to realise how competitive the F&B industry is; especially during the pandemic – when more home-food businesses are popping up. One of the main challenges is probably having to come up with a new flavour / dessert frequently and especially with my busy schedule, I knew I was going to struggle. Fortunately, Nis.Bakes is not your typical dessert shop, I knew I didn’t want to sell regular flavoured desserts such as cheesecake, Lotus Biscoff, chocolate – ones that other dessert shops have already excelled at making. Being a newcomer in both baking and in the online dessert industry, I knew I had to be unique to be distinctive, so I experimented with baking unconventional flavoured desserts and focused on perfecting them.
View this post on Instagram
How do you juggle running your own business and working a full-time job?
It is not easy; Nis.Bakes is a one woman show. Weekdays are the most hectic days, I come into work at 9AM, come home at 7PM, head for a quick shower and within 30 minutes, I’m in the kitchen baking for 3 or 4 hours. I take a limited amount of orders every week as a result of this, 15 orders max. Weekends are my off days, I’ve realised that those two days are important to recuperate and recharge. It’s definitely improved my time management skills, but what keeps me going is my customers’ satisfaction, it’s very rewarding and I don’t regret the decision of setting up Nis.Bakes. They are also very understanding of my situation and I’m extremely grateful for them.
What advice do you have for others looking to start their own home-food business?
Just go for it! There’s never a right time to embark on a new venture in your life. You will make mistakes along the way, but you’ll learn from it and continue to improve!
Nis.Bakes is currently on pause for a month or so, but they are looking for part-time helpers: drop them a DM on Instagram and let them know why you’d like to join their home kitchen!