Gong Xi Fa Cai! Welcome, dear reader, to GoodNews’ Chinese New Year edition of #GoodNewsSapotLocal! With this series, we hope to spread word of local entrepreneurs and highlight their efforts.
We’re not going to bore you with frustrating SOPs and rising cases and – Right, back to not boring you… Let’s instead take a little culinary trip together, shall we?
In the midst of this new normal, we have seen our fellow Malaysians transform in to baking connoisseurs. And they are going all out to ensure the Year of the Ox is greeted with a range of tasty treats.
First up on our trip is someone you may be familiar with! Presenting to you..
1. Jonah Bakes (@jonahbakes_happycookies)
Little Jonah is a 6-year-old boy who suffers from a rare form of skeletal dysplasia. Despite this genetic disorder hindering his growth and development, Jonah is still thriving to achieve his dreams.
To learn a little more about the boy behind the scrumptious cookies, GoodNews reached out to his wonderful mother, Yumi.
Yumi, a single mother to her two delightful sons, recalls how Jonah’s baking business took off in October 2020 when her little boy asked her if he could bake and sell cookies.
“As a single mom with two young boys below 6, I wanted to encourage and teach him that one needs to work to make a living and so I helped him start a little online bakery. I am also hoping that baking would be something Jonah can make a living out of in the future as I know his future in the professional world will be bleak because of this physical condition.”
Jonah’s early request to start his business stemmed from his exposure to cooking and baking since he was about 3-4 years-old. Yumi describes how they would make their own bread and spaghetti, all the while ensuring that Jonah was very much involved and hands-on.
The magic that happens in the kitchen is carried out by Jonah, Yumi, her mother and one other person who really needed a job. Yumi also expressed how they have a great support system – from friends, family and even individuals who reach out to ask if they might need help.
“I am so very touched by the generosity shown by so many.”
You’d think that Jonah might not have the attention span to complete his numerous orders given his age but Yumi says otherwise:
“Although he is just 6 years old and turning 7 in December 2021, he is extremely focused when he’s baking. He’s not easily distracted by the antics of his younger brother. If you’ve watched some of his baking videos on Instagram, you’ll get an idea of what he’s like when he bakes.”
When asked if he particularly enjoys baking a certain type of cookie, Yumi says the young baker does not discriminate! He enjoys not just baking, but cooking too.
However, the second MCO has affected the family’s baking business. Due to restrictions, customers either have to pick up their orders themselves or pay delivery charges for a box of cookies – something most are most are not willing to pay for.
Due to all these hindrances, we asked Yumi about how important these obstacles and setbacks are to an entrepreneur. And what mindset is most effective in dealing with the challenges that come up in the journey.
“Obstacles teach us lessons – if only we are able to identify and learn from them. We need to be strong, and tackle whatever comes our way. Being a single mother who not too long ago left a physically abusive marriage, with two young sons and no job, I had strong family support (thank God) but I also know that it was a matter of ‘do or die’. I don’t know what lies ahead for Little Jonah (with his physical/medical condition) but I know we have to brave through it.”
Yumi and Jonah are so thankful for all the support they’ve received over the past year.
“Individuals who bought cookies, individuals who offered us help, individuals and the community who are sponsoring Jonah’s education, supportive family & friends, the media… our hearts are so full.”
The family have big plans for Jonah Bakes! Plans that will hopefully, in the future, help individuals who struggle with Jonah’s physical condition.
Jonah Bakes is currently offering a range of cookies for CNY. Keep your diet aside this festive season and order some of Jonah’s mouth-watering cookies so you and your family can satisfy your taste buds after Yee Sang and Reunion Dinners!
Find them at @jonahbakes_happycookies on Instagram or visit their website www.jonahbakes.com/
2. RayeRaye’s (@raye_rayes)
From cakes to cookies to their aesthetically pleasing macarons – get your CNY spirit on by checking out Rayelene and Mohammad’s bakery to indulge in their unique approach to sweet treats.
Taking a break from completing orders, the couple spoke to us over the weekend about their business. They enthusiastically described their humble beginnings and recalled the wonderful but challenging journey it has been.
Rayelene has been baking since she was a little girl. From family birthdays right up to workplace potluck parties – she was everyone’s favourite baker. Finally, they decided to turn her passion in to a business
They officially started Raye Raye’s during the first MCO. Rayelene and Mohammad hoped that their delicious treats would bring some light to the darkness shrouding the Malaysian people.
“I remember during that period, my wife had baked one day and gave me a cookie. I remember how wonderful that first bite was and I knew we had to spread this happiness all over.”
When demand for their baked goods increased, the couple decided to move operations to a bakery of their own (which is located in Ampang). They obtained an investor and refurbished their bakery from scratch.
When asked what makes their bakery unique, Rayelene said,
“Well, at the bottom of the brand, you’ll see our tagline – a treat for your loved ones. And that’s what we want to do with our baking, lighten people’s hearts especially during this lockdown when everything is so dark. These pastries and desserts represent love.”
“That cookie my wife gave me? I distinctly remember the smile on my face when I bit in to it. So that’s what we want to sell – a smile currency,” Mohammad added.
However, Raye Raye’s has unfortunately not escaped the effects of the MCO.
“They were actually very dark times, especially at the beginning. As soon as it got better, it got worse again. Some of our products even died during this period but my wife and I always use such tough times to grow stronger. We worked hard, found a strategy and redefined our plans. A lot has brought us down but this is our baby and we created it,” Mohammad said.
“We overcame these times through social media. People would reach out and we would deliver their orders. This got us thinking of starting a YouTube channel so that we can help young couples like us overcome the issues that we have faced,” Rayelene added.
Although Rayelene and Mohammad have gone through tough times, they maintained a good mindset in dealing with these challenges. Mohammad shared his fighting perspective on surviving such unexpected situations:
“When these things happen, an entrepreneur has to be a problem solver. No one expected this pandemic to change everything so fast. We had to remain positive, creative and no matter what, we knew we couldn’t give up.
With businesses, you must have the mind of a warrior. Be ready for the worst. We now have our flagship product, macarons, but we are already planning for the next.”
Raye Raye’s has progressed incredibly since they began. They now have their very own packaging and have ensured quality presentation so that customers are getting their monies worth. The couple also ensure their Instagram page is constantly updated for the ease of potential customers.
Rayelene particularly enjoys baking her macarons!
“I enjoy every moment of the whole process. The colours, the flavours, the technique – it’s an endless list! It was incredibly difficult to master at first, it consisted of a lot of weeping initially but after a month and a half, I finally got the hang it,” Rayelene joyously said.
Their CNY macarons are not just a feast for our tummies, but for our eyes too!
If you’re interested in procuring a few of Raye Raye’s tasty treats, visit them @raye_rayes on Instagram or contact them via Whatsapp (+603-2389 1830)
3. shamiyummy (@shamiyummy9)
Do you enjoy a good pineapple tart during the festive season? What about pineapple tarts in unique shapes and forms?
We stumbled across shammiyummy on Instagram and could not help but be mesmerised by her handcrafted pineapple tarts. From a cute Ah Boy/Ah Girl duo to Fortune Cats to Mandarin Oranges – this talented baker has truly mastered the art of creative baking.
Shamitha, a 23-year-old law graduate, found her interest in baking while she was studying in the UK.
“My grandma asked me to buy her some baking equipment before coming back to Malaysia. Buying this equipment felt incredibly therapeutic. Just looking at the cute cookie moulds and colourful edible paints made me feel relaxed.
When I reached home and saw my grandma’s collection of baking equipment, I was inspired to try my hand at baking.”
Shamitha’s love for traditional cookies and pineapple tarts as well as her creativity with colours and cute items led her to this baking venture. She decided to combine these two aspects to modernise traditional cookies.
The talented baker works with her family, who have been there for her since the very beginning, to create these masterpieces
Shamitha described to us the progression of her venture:
“I began by promoting my pineapple tarts to neighbours and friends who have been extremely supportive of my business. Looking at the amount of support I received, I felt confident enough to take this business to the next level by creating an Instagram page. I posted pictures of my tarts and I must say, the response thus far has been incredible, filled with unconditional love and support.”
Shamitha allows her creative juices to flow when baking her cookies and biscuits. That was when the unique CNY pineapple tarts came to be.
However, the MCO has impeded her growth.
“It did affect my business. One aspect was the fact that I can no longer deliver my pineapple tarts to people living in different states due to the current movement restrictions.”
Although this may not be ideal, Shamitha said,
“Without frustrations, setbacks and obstacles, none of us would be able to learn or explore different ideas and methods. These negative aspects are sometimes key elements of success. This applies for everyone, not just entrepreneurs.
The most effective mindset in dealing with these challenges is to stay calm and positive. There will be tons of failures and obstacles but we should always take them as learning processes and move forward with even more positivity.”
Shamitha explains how this past year has helped her discover new capabilities and a new version of herself.
This inspired baker has let her sentiments translate in to her baking. She has indeed added her own personality to this range of CNY pineapple tarts.
If you’d like your fill of pineapple tarts this CNY, visit @shamiyummy9 on Instagram to order a batch!
That was indeed a wonderful culinary trip, wasn’t it? We don’t know about you but our taste buds now are surely craving some of these amazing pastries and cookies! In these ox-picious times, it is vital to ensure our thriving Malaysians are supported. And as seen from this article, these bakers are definitely working their hardest to produce quality products.
So if you’re looking to buy some festive CNY treats for your friends and family, do check out these inspired bakers and their creative takes on classic baking.