Malaysian

A Personal Hobby During MCO Made This Co-Sharing Space Pivot Into A Mini Bakery Too

Author’s Blurb: Thanks to the pandemic, I believe that people currently have differing opinions on coworking spaces: they’re either the future of workspaces, or they’ll become obsolete as people just start working from home more.

When Headspace in SS15 was launched just over a year ago by Jessie and Thresa, a lot of thought had gone into its design.

The co-sharing space took into account how different people had different working styles, and what kinds of designs could cater to them and put them in the right headspace.

Step in and you’d notice how there’s almost a segregation of sorts all in one space: there’s a couch area, a counter top with bar stools, and a café-like area.

None of it looks like your typical office, or even a coworking space.

Headspace doesn’t cater to one demographic in particular, anyway, although its location means the majority of its patrons are usually students.

Its unique proposition from the start had been its RM0.20/hour pricing up until you hit the 90-minute mark, at which point it’ll cost RM18/day.

Having just reopened after the MCO when we visited, the pricing was still unchanged and patrons were already chilling inside, but something new was tinkering away in its kitchen.

Note: All images for this article were taken on the Samsung Galaxy A31 and no editing was done except for some cropping where necessary.

A New Business Is Brewing

What first greeted our eyes when we stepped in was a duo of influencers, meticulously taking pictures of a high tea set full of choux puffs and other pastries.

Not the typical people you’d find at a co-sharing space, but things have changed. A new addition to Headspace sits in the centre, having taken over the kitchen area.

It’s MY Popelini, a bakery born from Jessie’s own love of baking.

“I was actively baking at home during the MCO just for my own friends, neighbours, and family, because I like to try new recipes,” she recalled how it started.

A candid shot of our casual sit-down, chit-chat interview after we walloped the pastries

However, eventually she realised she was baking more pastries than she had mouths to feed, and since she didn’t want her expenditures on ingredients to go to waste, she came up with an idea.

She took a picture of her bakes and put it on her Instastory, slapped on a caption that read “RM40 for 12 pieces”, and received orders from her friends.

The orders increased during Raya, and then they never stopped. Jessie did this for about 3 weeks from home, and eventually it was time for her to make a decision about reopening Headspace too.

“In the back of my mind, I think post-MCO or with this whole COVID-19 thing, we don’t think that we’re going to get a lot of patrons for Headspace, and we were largely relying on university students to be our patrons,” she shared her initial concerns.

With universities remaining closed for the time being, it’s understandable that Jessie was iffy about reopening and shouldering the costs of doing so.

“Finally, we made the decision: let’s just test it out, open Headspace, let it come back and try to do the baking here so we can increase production and take more orders.”

Making Pastries To Get That Bread

Jessie’s plans to turn Headspace into a full fledged kitchen didn’t quite work out, as the invested cost would be too high, and the future too uncertain to assure her that they could make that amount back.

Therefore, Headspace’s current kitchen is only being used for the preparation of the choux dough and cookie tops, and anything that’s messier to handle like the cream is made in a separate kitchen.

“We do 3-4 times delivery a week now to ensure the freshness of the ingredients, and we do the final baking here so right now it’s very much still a home based setup,” Jessie said.

Overall, it’s a painstakingly slow process, as the oven in Headspace isn’t a commercial one and can only bake 12 pieces an hour. Imagine that, only a single box’s worth of pastries per hour.

Coming up with a high tea set of puffs and pastries was a natural progression of the boxed sets, although the former isn’t getting much demand.

“We’re not really strongly pushing the high tea as well, it’s just a nice representation for us. It’s easier to host guests, easier to get people to come here and then at the same time talk about Headspace and the choux puffs,” Jessie stated.

Headspace and MY Popelini are very much in survival mode right now, so expansion isn’t on her mind yet, though she does hold out more hope for the bakery business.

“I don’t think this [co-sharing] business model is going to work in the next 2 years, as long as COVID-19 still exists,” Jessie said.

“Space will no longer be a demand for sure, and people working from home has become the norm. I am only hoping that we can survive until the end of the tenancy agreement.”

On the bright side, she’s enjoying running MY Popelini and sees potential in turning it into a chain down the line, since she’s always liked F&B businesses.

Bottom Line: I was actually expecting Jessie to be a lot more optimistic about Headspace’s future, but I appreciated her honest thoughts and opinions. The future of many businesses is still uncertain, and staying realistic and not overly-optimistic about the situation is probably a good way to mitigate risks currently.

  • You can read our previous article on Headspace here.

All Image Credits: Taken by Vulcan Post on the Samsung Galaxy A31.

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