For Keem Ooi, otherwise known as keempossible_2 to her 36.8k followers on IG, it takes at least an hour to produce her cakes. The fruits of her artistry and time invested can be seen in her Bernie Sanders design, based on the viral meme, among many others.
Her gallery isn’t all mischief though. The online profile exhibits her diverse creations, from vintage floral designs to a recreation of The Great Wave off Kanagawa, and Pokemon milk bread.
You might think that her baked goods come at a premium price tag, but she’s never actually sold them until the MCO last year. Instead, she honed her baking skills and used them to teach an audience curious to learn.
Moulding Her Experience In Different Forms
The form of artistry Keem adopts is known as patterned cakes, which has been popular in Japan for a while now. It involves using thick-coloured cake batter to forge shapes with a lighter sponge cake as its backdrop.
“The process took me lots of practice along with trial and error to be efficient at what I can do now. It’s more than baking, it’s incorporated with art, painting, and detailed colour coordinating work,” Keem explained to Vulcan Post.
“As I wasn’t in a hurry to sell or serve my bakes to others, my journey in learning and creating these pieces of edible arts are somewhat fun and joyful.”
Failures are normal to Keem too. Reading books, articles online, and watching videos of experts in the field are some of her methods to overcome them.
The artist also affirmed that attention to detail and patience to troubleshoot problems are also important factors ensuring her success. It’s a piece of advice she gives her students at her baking classes too.
A piano and vocal teacher by day, the mother of two simply repurposed her skillset to teach a different subject. But that didn’t come without some jitters.
Speaking to Vulcan Post, Keem reminisced, “I remembered the nerve-wracking debut of my baking class, but I was overjoyed that it was successfully conducted.”
Her classes cover the how-to’s of baking and decorating the patterned cakes from start to finish. Depending on its complexity, lessons can range between RM380-RM600.
Sold out the moment she launched it, her students comprised both professionals and home bakers. But come 2020’s MCO, Keem was faced with a dilemma.
Not only did she have to halt both her music and baking classes, the original keempossible IG account was hacked.
A Devastating Loss Can’t Pop Her Bubbly Spirit
“For sure, that experience devastated me,” confides the bubbly 51-year-old in an interview with NST this year.
“Not only was it an album of all my work, the account was also an archive of really nice comments and encouraging words left for me by fans and friends from all over the world.”
But as Keem’s not the sort of person to let things get her down, she instead saw it as an opportunity to bounce back stronger and opened a new account.
As mentioned earlier, the teacher had to freeze all classes when the pandemic hit our shores, which meant a severe dip in income too.
On why she couldn’t adapt lessons virtually, Keem explained, “Piano and vocal teaching in my case was not possible to be conducted online, it has to have a personal touch and demonstration, as most of my music students are not under elementary level.”
To sustain herself, she opened up orders for her patterned cakes to loyal followers, but only in batches of 6 pieces per day. Their prices range between RM120-RM350, depending on the type of cake and design.
She told Vulcan Post that the cakes that weren’t sold priorly were given out to family, friends, and even her music students. The admiration on their faces was her motivation to continue creating more.
Because of the complexity of each cake, the amount she can make a day is limited. It’s certainly not something that can be mass-produced.
Currently, the happy-go-lucky baker said that she has no concrete plans in mind to grow her business. Should she opt to do so in the future, however, her current visibility and brand awareness would serve her well.
- You can find out more about keempossible_2 here.
- You can read more Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Keem Ooi, baker and founder of keempossible_2