You probably wouldn’t guess how long I took to complete this post. I drafted then delete, delete & write again, because I can never find a proper way to illustrate how I really feel, as there are too many positivity and negativity to include. After so much contemplation and attempts, I thought forget it.. I’ll just type out what I truly feel at this point of time. When I look back one day, I'll know what am I thinking right now.
I love craft, design & I love baking, I guess that's how I land myself in what I am doing now. I have never been through any professional designing classes so there are indeed many moments I do doubt myself as to, if I really have what it takes to bring me to where I ultimately vision myself to be.. To summarise, It’s been almost 6 months running THECAKEISSUE (prior to this I have been working very intently with what I love for the past 3 years under a different name, all on and off, but still holding on tight to me) and I must say I’m really thankful for it. It allowed me to follow my heart and pursue my passion so truly & crazily, to portray my portfolio of work and to work on a dream job I have always wanted. It allowed me to have many exposures and chances with working with people I have never dreamt of working with. Above picture shows the first ever dessert table I have tried doing for Klarra's Tea Party, along with the help of a few good friends. Through all these experiences, I learnt so much – but I felt no amount of learning is ever enough. I greed new knowledge and always put myself though much scrutinizing to make sure I will continue to improve.
Landing yourself in a dream job doesn’t necessarily mean all is good. Like all other jobs and journeys, there are always ups and downs and they will only shape who you become ultimately. Most of the times, people only see the glamorous outlook but in fact there are wayyyy a lot of thankless, tiring shit jobs you have to do to get it all done. & yes that’s me, I do those shit jobs. Because I'm the only one running the whole show now, other than a few part time helpers I get on event basis and my sister of another mother who always help without asking for any return :') People outside don’t see the ugly side of the work. You too gotta sacrifice many things...for one example, my nails? I love pretty nails, french nails especially but because of work, and because I respect my work, I do not do it. It goes beyond hygiene.
Through success, you build confidence, and through failure, you change and improve, you learn from every screw up. It hasn't been an all good route for me but its all these falls that makes me learn; it is an interesting journey, it has been and I believe it will continue to be. Nothing beats learning through the hard way. My partner always emphasised this on me and he told me he's proud of me of what I have learnt and changed throughout the years we have been together :')
There are many restrictions on what I am currently working on and many times it cripples me, which leads me to many deep thoughts at night and how should I continue planning from here. Demand > supply is one of the difficulties I am facing; this pair of limited hands can be such a killer. People are rushing me to reply emails and draft and draft different cake drafts. When all come at the same time, my quality of work tends to be compromised, my emails were not replied explicitly enough, I fall sick..etc etc it felt like living hell I swear.
I learnt through experience, many may or may not know, but I thought maybe I can share it here. I know, it’s easy to bake casually and to take photos and upload it on IG, or any other social media platforms, get the likes and get people to appreciate and admire what you do, I don’t deny it does make me happy and a more confident person when I am acknowledged and recognized for my style of work, it drives me even more.
But as it continues, I realized everyday I have to put in more and more effort into running the whole business, it is NOT just about baking cakes and decorating anymore! Gradually I start to handle and manage every aspect of the ‘business’, replying emails, getting inspirations, designing cakes, coming up with new ideas, marketing its direction, meet ups with clients, discussing of proposals with companies and also clients, photoshoot for my cakes…workload is increasingly exponentially! And it’s SO SO DAMN crazy!!! Of course there are so many, in fact overwhelming satisfaction in completing them, but most of the times, the journey is arduous. I know that’s what made it all worth it as well, all the hard work. 2 pointers:
1. Baking a cake ONCE IN A WHILE to take photos IS NOT THE SAME as baking crazy amount of cakes EVERYDAY.
2. BAKING IS DIFFERENT FROM MANAGING A BUSINESS. When you can bake at home, it doesn't mean you're ready to open a business.
As most of you guys have known, I learn my work and decor skills through the internet and I learn mostly from people from the States, even for classes that I signed up online, my way of doing work and style of decor creation has been subconsciously influenced by the work they do. Through the world wide web, I have many inspirational people, women, local and international cake artists whom I look up to, their stories and how they drive me to pursue my own passion like the way they do, too. I have received emails which people tell me how I actually inspire them to chase after their dreams too. I honestly dare not claim credits for that, but if I manage to do it in one way or another, I humbly accept that compliment and I’m happy I did some good to your life :)
I know there're also people and many opinions that doubt this 'chasing your dreams' and make a living through it, especially in such a fast paced society in Singapore where most of us are judged by having a degree, and success is measured by the amount of wealth you have, cars, credit cards, ... Then I have friends telling me about how chasing after our passion may be dangerous when we start to join the 'rat race' because we have to do reality checks. This stupid rat race thing, ugh. Must we really be part of it?! Most of my friends around me landed themselves in a corporate job, 9-5.. and it continues, but I just can't. I'm not made for the office so I won't do an office job. Of course there's many (in fact a thousand times I doubt myself, and also start doubting if I can make it through all these but my partner always remind me; if you don't believe yourself in the first place, who is going to place trust in you?) People who knows me deep down knows that I'm someone that loses confidence really easily so I guess its time to build up and maintain a good balance. I choose what makes me happy. I love to bake, design cakes and I hope one day people will recognise my work, I'm not sure how long will I take, but I hope it will happen, one day.
"For everyone who is pursuing their dream… believe in yourself, work hard and somehow, the universe will aid you in fulfilling your dream. Do not lose faith nor doubt your convictions, be the best that you can be, but at the same time, don’t forget to reflect, learn from mistakes and be a better person." - Sarah's loft.
I made the first move to enquire about a stint from one of my many inspirations. Maggie from Maggie Austin Cake drew my attention with her works of intricacy, works that I have almost never seen it anywhere around the world and it earns so much respect. I have seen many great works but nothing comes almost as close as to her works. So I started the ball rolling & emails started to exchange. I have no idea when did an enquiry suddenly turned itself into an application..& I was expected to send in a portfolio of my work. It wasn’t too long till I received an email for a Skype interview (prolly the craziest and most exciting experience I got to date, its like the movie, Internship) and also followed by an acceptance email to perform a stint with them. Believe me, in my heart I was like HOLY SHIT DID I JUST GOT IT. I was really just trying my luck and thought I wouldn't get in because I was told in the very first email that it is a highly competitive position and the stint is designed for pre-professionals in this industry. Initially I told my brother "I don't think i'll get it...because I haven't heard from them since weeks I submitted my portfolio." Its almost, or in fact a dream come true. My heart was skipped a lot of beat. lol. Successfully passing the Skype interview, on my way to one of my favourite countries to perform and learn under a world class sugar flower cake artist, designing wedding cakes from scratch. It's more than a dream come true :')
Oh, did I also mentioned Maggie and her team were the hands and brains behind Ryan Reynold & Blake Lively's wedding cake, working alongside with Martha Steward Weddings. Not only that, tapped by the First Lady of USA, Maggie Austin was also commissioned to create a sugar flower vase for the White House Christmas in 2013. I'm crazily honoured to be able to perform a stint with them!!!
"Its a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any." - Rozz
I don’t know how should I phrase it right, so I guess I’ll just phrase it straight. I think its time I look into long term plans, and hence I’m taking a break from my work from August 2014 (last order 31st July 2014) onwards (I’m sorry if this breaks your heart, it pretty much broke mine a thousand over times too because this means I have to sacrifice big projects with companies and also turn down many cake designs I have been dying to do during this time when I''m away). Meanwhile when I'm not accepting cake orders I will keep improving on myself and also practice more on my cake decor techniques and skills, so that I can improve & provide better work quality. I need some time off to better reflect and practice; I won't go far from what I love & I may have plans on teaching them in a work studio while taking a break from cake orders so those who are interested to learn, keep checking this space or my IG account ;)
Until I can find a trustable pair of helping hands, and a bigger work space.. for now I’ll just accept cake orders and put more practice into my flowers (even though I will most probably be making hundreds and thousands of sugar flowers when I'm performing my stint) with the pace I can manage where work would not be compromised. Just a few more months and I’ll be on my way to pursue my dream stint all the way in Washington D.C, I cannot explain my excitement (& also fear of staying abroad myself) but I guess this break would also be a good time for me to clear my thoughts, step out of comfort zone, live a new experience abroad & start planning well for what lies ahead of me.
To all my closest friends and family who are always so supportive of my actions and rooting for me ever since the day I decide on this path, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being genuinely happy for me.. Especially thank you Daddy & Mummy, who always encourage me to go for what I really love and supporting me in all means you guys could.. for not pressuring me to find an office job, for teaching me all the life skills because you guys went through the same thing. They mean more than anything else in the world. Thank you.
Loads to do and plan for this whole stint now!!!! Anyone who have been to the States/ Washington area, feel free to email me or drop any comments on your experience of recommendations on what's good to eat (hehe)/ explore/ any tips you would love to share with me. I'll be more than grateful because it's my first time there! :)