During the circuit breaker, Singaporeans came out in full force, thronging supermarkets and confectionary stores for their home baking endeavours.
Social media was also abuzz with home bakers posting images of their latest bakes or baking enthusiasts setting up micro-businesses, sparking the trend of ‘circuit bakers’ in Singapore.
For one home baker, her baked goods got so popular that she ended up quitting her job at United Overseas Bank (UOB) to run her baking business full-time.
According to Fiona, over two months later, her waitlist ballooned to 3,000 which would take “more than two and a half years to clear with current pace of production”.
An Idea Ahead Of Its Time
The 28-year-old self-taught baker did not become a success overnight.
Fiona told Vulcan Post in an interview that she started baking when she was 14 as a fundraiser for Girl Guides back in school, which piqued her interest.
She then started to teach herself how to bake, kickstarting a series of “trials and troubleshooting” on YouTube whenever her bakes did not quite work out.
Whilst studying in the National University of Singapore, she also took on odd jobs in bakeries to get a more hands-on experience.
Whiskdom was started as a passion project six years ago in 2014, where she used to sell “completely random baked offerings” to “friends, family, and occasional strangers”.
Interestingly, Whiskdom was actually my pitch idea when I applied for an entrepreneurship program NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC).
Back then, there were people telling me there would be little demand for online purchases of baked goods since bakeries were aplenty and easily accessible. Perhaps, an idea that was ahead of its time.Fiona Loh, Founder of Whiskdom
After she began her full-time job as a tech product owner at UOB, Whiskdom took on the form of a “baking diary” instead, where she would pen down her baking experiments.
From Banking To Baker
Fresh out of school and caught between the path less-travelled, high F&B failure rates and the promise of a steady corporate life, it was easy to pick the latter.
When the work from home was instituted across industries, Whiskdom got an increasing number of queries by the day.
Between her day job and her night hustle, Fiona shared that she was effectively working more than 16 hours each day. She knew it was “not going to be sustainable in the long run.”
When it eventually came down to choosing between one or the other, the decision was “inextricably difficult”. Fiona liked her day job and was progressing well, yet she was “in love” with her night hustle.
That was when she thought to herself: “Which would I regret more if I didn’t pursue?” It was then that she decided to take the leap of faith and quit her job to work on Whiskdom full-time.
I realised when normalcy is restored, my newfound fulfilment meant it would be impossible to go back to corporate life without feeling a void. Now I live for the hustle, and enjoy every adrenaline gushing moment of it.Fiona Loh, Founder of Whiskdom
Not A Single Cent Was Spent On Marketing
Businesses typically spend a ton on marketing, especially in their early days.
Interestingly, despite Whiskdom’s popularity, Fiona did not spend a single cent on marketing.
The brand has grown completely via word-of-mouth and Fiona said that she has her online community of followers, also known as the Whiskdom Whiskies, to thank.
Of course, Whiskdom’s baked goods inevitably also have a part to play in its popularity.
Fiona uses only the finest ingredients, from French butter to imported European chocolate. What also keeps customers coming back is the different rotation of flavours each week, which surprises people every time.
Whiskdom’s cookies are also “huge and substantial”, at a whopping 135g each, and the brand’s brownies are akin to a molten cake with a gooey interior.
According to the Whiskdom website, a typical bake box consists of three cookies and three brownies, and will set you back by S$42.
A Father-Daughter Team
Before Fiona roped her father in to help her, she was a one-woman team.
61-year-old Jackie Loh also left his job of 40 years to join Fiona, working with her “towards the great unknown.”
It has been a very humbling and inspiring experience witnessing my 61-year-old dad leave his 40-year-old job to work with me towards the great unknown. At the same time, he is living proof that is is never too late.Fiona Loh, Founder of Whiskdom
The duo has also recently onboarded a co-founder who has a wealth of experience in F&B and hospitality.
In an interview with TODAY, Fiona said that she is opening a central kitchen mid-September, in hopes to ramp up production.
Currently, Whiskdom opens for orders every Monday between 10am and 7pm. However, since all the items are handmade, only a limited batch can be produced each time.
With the new central kitchen, Fiona can hire extra help to step up her production. She previously could not do so as a home-based business due to regulations set by the Singapore Food Agency.
Fiona’s dream for Whiskdom is to become a home-grown brand that will put Singapore in the global spotlight.
“We will continue to reinvent ourselves, ramp up our digital infrastructure and continuously devise innovative flavours while keeping pace with the ever- changing demands of the market,” she said.
Featured Image Credit: Whiskdom