Updated: Jul 20, 2021
“Without her encouragement, I would have never dared to move forward with this idea.” - Jeanice Toh, mentee in the Pay It Forward Mentorship Programme reflects on how her mentor, Loh Yinshan, spurred her to fulfill her dream of starting her own online baking business.
Finding the right mentor is a powerful tool for one’s professional growth. A great mentor can lead to new opportunities and propel you to start on what might feel like an unattainable goal. This includes finding a new job, a promotion at work, and even achieving personal goals such as starting your own business. Jeanice Toh, a mentee in the fourth run of YWLC’s Pay It Forward (PIF) Mentorship Programme 2020, talks about how her experience with her mentor Loh Yinshan helped to kickstart her own business.
Yinshan (L) & Jeanice (R)
On what made her keen to start an online business:
I always wanted to set up an online bakery business but was not confident in my skills. My passion for baking started when I was 12. It made me really happy when people enjoyed my baked goods. Since then, I kept thinking about opening a cafe. When I chance upon news articles featuring students selling cakes online, it kept reminding me about how much I wanted to be in their shoes.
I would feel envious, but could not bring myself to start as I felt that my skill sets were inferior.
On how Yinshan encouraged her to take the first step:
I started out by trying out a recipe for a banana cake. I succeeded the first few times but failed subsequently. These failures were demoralising. It made me question my own abilities and the possibility of my business ever coming to fruition.
Incidentally, this was also the time the PIF Mentorship Programme started. After understanding my goals and journey, Yinshan gave me a different perspective on my failures to consider, and taught me how to balance my studies and business.
Her constant encouragement and faith in me eventually pushed me to take that first leap into my business - putting my bakes up for sale.
I wouldn't have had the courage to push through my doubts if not for her constant encouragement as well as perspectives on certain situations.
On setting up her online business during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how Yinshan helped her in the process:
It was a repeated cycle of recreating recipes and tweaking until I had the right taste and consistency for every product. I would also spend my free time researching new flavour combinations and on how to decorate my cakes.
I promoted my bakes through Instagram more frequently and requested that my friends share my posts on their accounts in a bid to get a wider outreach. I would then continuously tweak my recipes based on customers’ feedback too. Yinshan, like a big sister, provided insights on managing her own business and introduced me to her contact who also sells cakes online. She taught me how to price my cakes, and gave feedback on recipes to enhance the flavours and texture.
On what she learnt on this journey:
Pricing is an important marketing factor! And, no dream is too big for anyone. With the right amount of passion, a lot of grit and a dash of right connections, dreams can become reality!
On her future plans for her business:
I want to be able to turn my online business into a physical cafe. But for now, I want to focus on honing my baking and marketing.
I am currently looking to collaborate with other online businesses to promote my bakes and my online store on Instagram!
Exclusively for YWLC members, Jeanice is offering a 5% discount on all orders from her Instagram store, @Faith_Bakes, with a special free gift for orders of 2 cakes or more. Use this code ‘YWLCROCKZ’ when making your purchase.
The Pay It Forward Mentorship Programme 2021 was launched on 17 April 2021.
The Programme is organised by members of YWLC’s Social Impact subcommittee in partnership with ITE Central and International Women’s Fund (IWF) Singapore. Look out for more information on the current run of the Programme on our social media channels!. Click here to subscribe to YWLC's monthly newsletter and be the first to get our latest updates in your inbox.
Organising Committee: Social Impact
Interviewer: Nisha Rajoo
Interviewees: Jeanice Toh, Loh Yinshan