Mother-daughter duo Mdm Sng (left) and Ong Jing Ting Kalyang founded Puffs and Peaks together in 2020, amid the pandemic
On the second level of Tampines Central Community Complex sits a quaint bakery bathed in the glow of warm lights. Within, the intoxicating fragrance of baked goods permeates the air. In the display case sits rows upon rows of stuffed, decadent donuts – a signature item of the bakery.
This is Puffs and Peaks, a labour of love by Ong Jing Ting Kalyang, and her mother, Mdm Sng. Born from Kalyang’s long-time love for baking, Puffs and Peaks first started as a home bakery in 2013.
After forays into the local F&B scene, Kalyang’s health suffered due to the long work hours expected by the industry. She returned to home baking, where her mother joined her after being retrenched.
Over time, their home bakery picked up steam and they decided to set up a physical shop. Thus, Puffs and Peaks was born.
But while the small bakery managed to thrive in spite of the pandemic, the beginning of Kalyang’s journey came with a few bumps on the road.
Challenges of starting a bakery
Behind the successful bakery today were months of stress and complications as the mother-daughter duo was setting up shop. One key challenge was renovations, Kalyang expresses. As a first-time business owner, she was unsure of the “nitty gritty details” of how a kitchen is best constructed.
“Nobody tells you where the floor trap should be, or that the pipe has to be slanted so it doesn’t clog up after a year,” she shares. The Covid-19 pandemic threw an additional wrench into her plans, with restrictions causing delays due to manpower shortages.
Kalyang and her mother faced manpower challenges when setting up a physical storefront, but managed to overcome them with the help of their loved ones
“We ended up having to pay a one-month rental without having anything done in the shop because there was nobody there to do the renovations yet,” she says.
Technology also proved a challenge. While Kalyang was eager to offer cashless payment options such as NETS, GrabPay or PayNow, she was unsure of how to set these up.
Figuring out these processes took a lot of Googling and emails, says Kalyang. “You just click a bunch of buttons and send a bunch of emails, and someone will reply eventually,” she explains.
“I definitely hope that there will be a resource that tells me how to sign up for e-payment methods,” she says. “There’s so many, and you don’t know which organisation to approach first.”
Eventually, with the help of family members and Kalyang’s partner, the mother-daughter duo managed to cobble together a storefront for launch.
That, she says, was the highlight of her entrepreneurial journey thus far.
The peaks of her journey
Puffs and Peaks is well known for its filled brioche donuts, which often sells out before closing
She recounts from the time when the store was first launched: “I had my mum in the shop, and my dad was sometimes in also… It’s not just being in the office, like they’ve done for the past 20 years. I’m most happy to see that every single day, they’re happy, they’re satisfied, and fulfilled.”
She adds that in the past, her mother was sickly due to leading a primarily sedentary lifestyle in her office job. “Now, she has a job that allows her to be physical, and it’s really good for her health,” she shares.
With the immense success of Puffs and Peaks also comes its own set of challenges. In the beginning, Kalyang would have to deal with upset customers who did not manage to purchase the bakes as they were sold out.
A lifelong journey
It’s a constant learning journey, she says. To better serve her customers, she took to updating the store’s Instagram Stories regularly of the quantity of bakes remaining. The team also placed a signboard outside the store that they could update, to keep queuing customers updated.
While Kalyang experienced her fair share of challenges while pursuing her passion, she has no regrets choosing the path of a baker and an entrepreneur
“The journey was not easy…It’s a very steep learning curve, but very fulfilling,” she says.
While there will always be difficulties in running a business, Kalyang faces each one with gusto and passion. “Everything is just part of the journey,” she says. “It just feels good to do this as a job for the rest of my life.”
Today, the humble bakery constantly sells out of their bakes and receives rave reviews from customers and food bloggers alike. And while Kalyang hopes to eventually expand, her vision for the space goes back to how it all started – an environment that is close-knit, like family.
Looking for guidance on how to set up your first F&B establishment? Check out GoBusiness’ guide on starting a food service business.
This article is accurate as at 16 Feb 2022