The first time I ever recall baking was when I was in elementary school. I totally failed at my first baking attempt trying to make cookies and it just became like a sheet of cookies, not individual cookies. Growing up, my dad always loved to bake and would bake for my birthday parties ever since childhood. I think that’s where I got that from.
Over the past few years living in Taiwan, I didn’t have a kitchen for the longest time, so I had no oven. I would go to friends’ houses and use their kitchens to bake cookies or sweets because that’s what I really like to eat and what I really miss from the States. Now that I finally have a place with a kitchen and my oven, I can do what I love to do. I love to bake and I love making something that my friends or other people can enjoy. That’s really what it is: seeing other people enjoying what I bake brings me a lot of satisfaction.
I was just doing it as something I enjoy when I have time. A couple of friends asked if I would make some for them because they would actually buy them from me. I was kind of skeptical because it was always something I loved to do and I never thought of trying to make a business out of it. For me, a challenge is having another job. I teach and that is my main job. Also, having the space like a kitchen and oven big enough to be able to just do this is the biggest challenge. I have daydreams of having a huge industrial kitchen, just shiny with ovens and everything...
But as a couple of other friends encouraged me more and more, I started to think about it more. The first event I did was baking for my friend's wedding. That was the biggest project I've ever done because I made like 100 servings of brownies. I tested it over and over again to try to make the perfect brownies. There are a lot of good recipes you can find online, so you can take them, test them, and tweak them to find what works for you and what you like. It's really fun to adjust an ingredient and see the result.
Before I started selling any products, I was doing a lot of testing. I just asked people to try them and give me feedback. I was trying to improve a product and anything they said would actually be helpful to me, so that was my mentality and I wasn’t scared at that point. Everyone has a totally different opinion and tells me different things, so in the end, I’m going to do what I love because that’s what’s most important if it’s my product.
Some people with more of a Taiwanese palette will say the products are a little sweet. I don’t let it get to me because I’ve already thought this through and I know I want to make them more American style. I’m only going to make things that I like to eat. I can’t stand behind a product that I’m not satisfied with; that’s why I bake test batches of things before I decide how to start baking a product. I’d be happy to customize products, but not to compromise flavor in my opinion.
As things grow and more people know about what you do, there’s going to be higher chances of giving feedback, whether positive or negative. Stick to what represents you and what you feel most comfortable with.
Even when friends were encouraging me to start this, I was like, how? This is impossible. I was really scared to put myself out there to create a brand, let alone start selling something. It’s just out in the world now, and you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable place where you don’t have to, but sometimes you should.