FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN TURNING YOUR KITCHEN PASSION INTO A BUSINESS
With the extension of the community quarantine came the continuing rise of small business ventures that rely on people's search for good food. For this creative turned corporate practitioner, Isaiah Bruce, behind a small dessert company, here are five things to live by when thinking of taking the big leap of turning your love for food into a business venture.
We have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world into a standstill. Five months in isolation and we have seen how the quarantined population, not just in the Philippines but around the globe, has felt the impact of the unseen enemy.
As we were abruptly plucked out of our regular routines into an unfamiliar world of isolation, the new normal has pushed us to rekindle old hobbies, retry uncharted interests, or introduce ourselves to new skills. One thing that has seen us through this big pause is food: bringing the slightest sense of normalcy in these uncertain times, or, with the rise of MSMEs, bringing new modes of survival–augmenting lost income opportunities by giving comfort and nourishment to people stuck in their own homes.
In the Philippines, a great number of Filipinos took refuge and relief in the idea of gobbling down on artisanal offerings from the Internet to the comfort of their own homes–thus the immense popularity of various fares from the ube cheese pandesals to the baked sushis, down to peanut butters and many other homemade comfort food like burgers and of course, cookies.
Media creative and PR practitioner turned marketing professional Isaiah Bruce, started his affair with baking because of his love for good food, especially desserts. This fascination brought to light an interest to start whipping up cookie recipes based off online video tutorials and applying these basic foundations according to his specific liking.
“I never considered myself an expert in the kitchen. But it’s a huge ‘why not’ moment for me to make something that I want. I looked into the basics of baking cookies and then I shaped it with no other external pressures other than doing it according to how I like it–do I like it this sweet? This chewy? I think that’s why it worked, because I was my very first customer. So, I understood what I am looking for,” Bruce shared on the beginnings of his small business venture.
This ultimately powered the homemade dessert company Cookiechap, which he originally established in 2019, along with his partner Jeck Gaddi. From a weekend hobby perfecting classics before playing with self-made recipes, this became a full-fledged business catering to people on their circle and slowly expanding to a bigger clientele by word of mouth. It was not until single bulk orders of over 100 boxes came pouring in when the small side-business became a promising source of new income.
Now, with the continuing government-imposed quarantine, Bruce was propelled to trade corporate suits with an apron and baker’s hat to extend his work-from-home set-up to a haven for homemade goods. “To be honest, I never really imagined myself wearing a baking apron, let alone building a business on that! But in doing so, I’ve gained a new perspective on the discipline and art of baking and the nitty-gritty of doing business with it. It’s like therapy, really, and a discovery of sorts,” he opined with a laugh.
When asked when for him is the best time to turn a passion for food into a business venture, he shares, there’s no real indicator, nor a foolproof plan in starting something. Instead, he gave five things to consider when thinking of starting something that involves your passion in the kitchen.
Focus on what you know and love
For me, the foundation of starting something good, be it in food, business, or anything, for that matter, is knowing and loving what you’re doing. It’s the biggest cliche of all, but it’s actually true. Because it will never flourish or you’ll never find the interest and the time to invest yourself in improving something that you have no love for. Cookiechap was made out of love. I can say that because it was born out of the simplest love for good dessert. I wanted to make myself happy. Sharing it to other people and making profit from it came second.”
Start small and start smart
Have big ambitions, but always be comfortable in starting small. There’s no going around it. No shortcuts. Take it one step at a time. There’s no shame in starting from the bottom and as you start on something, always take care of your foundations. Study it and consult people who might know better than you.
Be your own best critic
Even as you read all about it and watch all the tutorials, putting your product out there is still the best way you can improve and learn. Be your very first customer. Be most critical of what you have created and come up with and when you start sharing it to other people, be aware of the criticisms. Sift through the good points to consider from the noise. At the end of the day, when you are happy with what you have to offer, it will transcend to your target market.
It’s great to have surefire formula of what you think works. But never rest on the laurels of your past work and always think about improving what you already have. When you keep on experimenting and improving, your market will always watch out for what new trick you have up your sleeve.
Quality over quantity
Don’t pressure yourself if you are not making more or selling more or if your orders are not as many as the others. As long as what you have is the best representation of what you believe in, then the volume of work and customers will follow. Just focus on perfecting what you have to offer–actually you don’t even need to be perfect, you just need to make sure that what you are offering is of the best quality. Because if not, people will know.
Right now, Cookiechap continues to accommodate orders through their social media channels, with new flavors underway. To learn more and place your orders find them via their official Facebook page and on Instagram @cookiechapph