Life is a piece of cake: Juggling work, children and a baking business

After giving birth to her second child in 2013, Pauline Tan soon grew restless during her maternity leave. She was watching the animated movie Despicable Me when an idea came to mind: Why not bake a 3D cake of the Minion cartoon character for her daughter as a surprise?

Using a picture of the yellow fictional creature and YouTube videos as reference, she spent an entire day baking the cake.

She posted her creation on Facebook, and the response surprised her. It marked the beginning of her home bakery.

“People started approaching me to ask how much I was charging to make a cake like that, and it got me thinking about starting a business,” said the self-taught baker.  

What started as a fun experiment has since morphed into a thriving enterprise, with a Facebook following of over 20,000.

2 Little Aprons Facebook page

2 Little Aprons was coined as a tribute to her two children, and its creations make for a feast for the eyes – with brightly coloured cakes in all shapes imaginable, topped with intricately detailed figurines.  

The famous Cars character Lightning McQueen, Sesame Street’s beloved Elmo and Cookie Monster, and Powerpuff Girls are some of the character cakes Pauline has created.

Besides custom cakes, she also does dessert tables, with her most recent works being safari-themed and unicorn-themed – complete with delectable cupcakes and candies.

Banker by day and baker by night

2 Little Aprons

Since starting 2 Little Aprons five years ago, Pauline has learnt the fine art of balancing her day job at a bank, running a home bakery and taking care of her two children, aged 5 and 10.

When her workday as a relationship manager ends at the bank, her bakery business starts. Pauline begins baking after dinner with the family, usually finishing past midnight.

Creating a 3D cake is typically a three-day process for her. The first day involves the most time-consuming task – creating the decorative figurines with fondant. It is a painstaking process of trial and error, which takes plenty of patience.

“It’s just like playing around with play dough. You just keep restarting until you get the perfect form,” she said.

For instance, she takes about 30 minutes to make a single lion figurine for a safari-themed cake. Some of her cakes have up to six figurines on them.

Cake design

The second day is the actual baking of the cake, and the third day is the grand assembly – putting all the decorations on the cake for delivery the next day, which is typically the weekend.

She receives five to six orders a week, and does everything on her own. Asked how she copes with everything, the 36-year-old simply said, “All you need to have is really good time management.” 

The convenience of online advertising 

With so little time to spare, Pauline turned to Adtiq in July to further promote 2 Little Aprons online, after chancing upon the advertising platform on Google.

She was initially posting her ads directly on Facebook and relying on word of mouth, but it was a hassle as plenty of tedious steps were required before a post could be made.

Now, Adtiq does the posting for her. All she has to do is choose the keywords and the platform does the rest. It has saved her plenty of time, as she is able to easily streamline her campaign and monitor 2 Little Apron’s page views on Facebook, all at once.

“My favourite feature is that it allows me to list my objectives that I have for my business, and they will actually help me target and post my campaign to the correct audience,” she noted.  

Adtiq also provides tips to optimise her ads. “I learnt how I should phrase my posts to better improve my online campaigns. It’s user friendly and there are clear explanations for me to understand,” she added.

After using Adtiq, Pauline now receives seven to eight enquiries for her services a week, up from two to three previously.

Every cake made special

Apart from online advertising, Pauline also makes it a point to give good customer service by personalising each cake, even if two customers ask for the exact same design.

cake

“I believe that everyone deserves their own special cake. So I’ll make a request for the customer to allow a slight difference in details,” she explained.

For example, if a customer requested a Minion cake for a girl, she would make the extra effort to make the minion look feminine, by adding a pink hair bow.

Her most difficult cake yet? Creating a 3D Hermes Birkin bag for a customer’s 29th birthday. It came with the complete works, such as its signature lock and key lanyard.

The Birkin cake took three attempts, before she was satisfied with the end product. In addition, she baked cupcakes, embellished with miniature bags decorations, to complement the main cake.

“I had to research all the measurements to make sure I got the dimensions of each component of the cake correct,” she recalled.

Although her home bakery is largely the reason for her hectic schedule, creating these decorative cakes also provides Pauline with an avenue to unwind.

“Baking is therapeutic and calms me down. It is my love and passion for baking that keeps me going,” she shared.

“Having to juggle between my children, work and baking can sometimes be very daunting. But whenever my customers thank me for the wonderful cakes and tell me how everyone loves them, all the tiredness seems to go away instantly.”

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