INSPIRASEE OF THE MONTH:
abigail lee xin
Abigail Lee Xin, a second year Faculty of Integrated Technologies student majoring in Chemical and Process Engineering, is the proud owner of Batter n’ Bake, a growing business of various cakes, cookies and pastries, of which the bestsellers are the cream puffs. A surprising fact about her is that she has received a lot of comments that her face is fierce and that she has a scary aura which makes her hard to approach, but in reality, she is only shy and awkward.
Abigail started her business back in September 2020. Baking is her hobby and it has always been an activity that she enjoys and helps her to relieve stress. Although her hobby is baking, she is allergic to dairy products, which is ironic as baking involves a lot of dairy products. Due to her allergy, she has never tasted anything that she has baked; hence, her family and close friends are the ones who tasted and judged her bakes. From that, she received positive feedback from her family and friends and they strongly encouraged her to start selling her baked goods online. However, she was hesitant at first as she was concerned that the business might not go the way she planned it to but she decided to take the leap of faith and started her business with the thought that it can help her provide for herself and lessen the burden of her parents. Her greatest strength that contributes to the success of her business happens to be her resilience or her stubbornness. She sets a goal and will work on the goal until she achieves it, without giving up easily. That has good and bad points, but it is what makes her the person she is today.
She has not consumed any dairy products such as ice cream, yogurts and cookies for over two years after finding out that she is allergic. People tend to confuse between having a dairy allergy with being lactose intolerant; if she were lactose intolerant, she could just consume lactose free milk, but she could not take any dairy products. She is looking into trying soy milk and any vegan bakes. She is also currently looking into baking vegan products so that she can at least try her own bakes; it is sad for her to see people enjoy her bakes but she doesn't know how her products taste like. Her hesitance to start the business was due to not knowing how her product tastes like, and she would think that her family lied to her when complimenting her bakes in order to not hurt her feelings.
One of the difficulties she has faced is when she gets only one to two orders per week, which is demotivating and depressing and it often made her wonder what she did wrong and if she needed to improve on anything. There are also times where she received overwhelming orders which she would struggle to cope up with sometimes. She would wake up very early during semester break and start baking until the night time, which could be 12AM or 2AM. She would only take breaks when she takes her meals, which has been draining for her. In order to keep her mental health as well as her physical health in check, she would try to push off some orders to a later date if possible, to spread out the orders evenly instead of having them clumped up in one week, and having another week with only a few orders. As her business is a home-based business, she does not have any colleagues. However, there are times where her family helps with the orders especially when there are too many orders for her to handle by herself. One problem is that sometimes she would get hot-tempered when she does not sleep enough and has to wake up early and she would lash her temper onto her family which she thinks is very rude of her; however, she does not do that anymore as she can balance her business well by planning.
Before launching a new product, she has to make sure that it is up to standards and tastes good, although she does not taste it. She may have to repeat baking the same product for over three times to make sure the quality and the taste is good. Sometimes, things do not go her way so she would keep on trying until she gets what she really wants. Seeing as she is stubborn, when she wants to launch a product, she must work on getting it and launching it before moving on to another product. Abigail fears that people would not like a new product that she releases compared to what she has already offered. She always tries to catch up on the current trends on what is popular in cafes or Instagram and eventually learn to bake what is popular so she can reassure herself that people would like the new product.
Someone who has been there for her throughout her journey is her parents and her friends. Her parents really see how she is at home as she bakes at home, they are the ones who experience how she is first hand. Whenever she is down or needs help, her parents will be the first one to help her and when there is something worth celebrating, they are also the ones who celebrate it with her. As for her friends, according to them, they say that they have been really proud of her because it shocked them when they found out that she owns a business as they did not know that she could bake. She has told everyone that she does not know how to cook or bake because she wanted to stay lowkey. Her friends found out about her business after she started selling for one or two months when they sent screenshots of her account (@batternbake.bn) to which Abigail confessed that she owns the business. Her friends have always been her emotional support to which she is grateful for.
Another activity that she likes is doing Muay Thai. Abigail has been interested in Martial Arts ever since she was young, she learned Wushu since she was 10 years old until she graduated from O-Level. Afterwards, she picked up on Muay Thai for almost two years and currently she is looking into learning Jiu-Jitsu as well. At first, Abigail did not really manage well as she does whatever that was coming to her until at one point where she feels drained and realises that she should not be practicing that way. Ever since that, she started planning her week ahead so that she can allocate the times properly. She would finish off her assignments first in order to have time for baking as she does not know when orders are going to be placed. She does not create slots for her orders; she only bakes when there are orders so her customers receive her products fresh. For her other hobbies such as Muay Thai, she does it only when she is done with both her assignments and baking.
One of her proudest moments was when she used the money she earned from baking to purchase a new, large oven which is a good investment as she plans to expand her business further. Other than that, she pays for her own expenses and sometimes, she helps out with the household bills. One of the baking tips she wished she knew earlier is to make sure that the butter is at the correct temperature because that will affect the consistency of the baked goods.
Her long-term visions are to expand her menu and she hopes that any new bakeries in the future would take interest in her bakes and she would provide them her bakes in a weekly basis, like certain cafes. Her personal goals as of now is to maintain or further upgrade her current cGPA and she always tries to be a better version of herself. In the future, she sees herself as an engineer who works from 9AM-5PM and when she goes home, she can enjoy her time as a night baker so that she can earn income in both ways.
An entrepreneur that she looks up to is @kait.co on Instagram that is owned by her senior, Kaitlyn, who does the same course as her. Abigail was amazed by how she could manage her time well, as Chemical and Process Engineering students tend to have a tight schedule. Abigail looks up to her because she is what Abigail describes as perfect.
An advice she has for start-ups is to not give up because things will not always go the way you want at first. If you continue trying your best and if you really have a goal that you set for yourself, just keep pursuing it because eventually you will get what you want, maybe not now, but you will.
Anyone that is interested in contacting her in regards to her business is through Instagram, @batternbake.bn by sending a message or contacting the number on the account, +673 8871126.