It’s 6am, and the sun isn’t up yet. Many of the residents at this old Telok Blangah HDB estate are still fast asleep while others are up to get to work.
It’s like any other morning at the neighbourhood – alarm clocks going off, water splashing in home showers, mums or helpers making breakfast for their children.
It’s about the same time that you catch a whiff of fresh bread baking coming from family-owned bakery Bread Story.
Connie Ng, 25, has just finished preparing the batter for waffles in the bakery’s kitchen.
Her parents have been in the baking business since 2000. Today, the family has two outlets, both in Telok Blangah.
Unlike many other children who spent their weekends and after-school hours playing catch at the playground, Connie along with her two older sisters spent theirs at the bakery.
When she started in primary school, she did simple duties like manning the cashier while her two sisters helped to bake in the kitchen.
Connie admitted that she never really had an interest in baking until five years ago.
“After graduating from ITE, I considered going to poly, but I wasn’t really interested in furthering my studies. So, I thought why not I work part-time at Bread Story first. Only after my father started teaching me some things about baking that I realised that I was interested in baking,” said Connie.
The first cake Connie baked herself was a swiss roll. Swiss rolls are easy to make compared to other types of cakes she has learnt how to bake in the last few years, she said.
Connie and one of her sisters have since taken over the running of the business.
“My parents are getting older, so I don’t want them to work so hard. That’s why we decided to run the business now,” she said.
The bakery still offers traditional pastries and cakes, but they have added other varieties such as agar-agar and eclairs.
The sisters have been careful to offer both modern and traditional cakes at the bakery. Many of their customers are older and have palettes for the conventional.
They now have plans to expand the business by opening more outlets in the west.
“We also considered opening our outlet in the town area. But we’re not confident how it will work out. So we are starting with the west first and see how it goes,” she said.
Bread Story is also building an online presence now and has its own Facebook page. The bakery is even dabbling in the idea of e-commerce.
Future of Business
With business expansion comes the need to modernise equipment.
The bakery has two industrial ovens that have been with the business since it started 19 years ago.
But the problem with the ovens is that the doors are opaque. Bakers can’t see how well the bread is baking.
Modern ovens will cost the bakery $20,000 each. But Connie and her sister will be getting them soon. They recently tapped on the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant under NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute). The grant will fund 80 per cent of the cost of the two ovens.
“The new ovens will definitely help us. The heat that comes off the old oven is also another issue. You can feel the heat even when you’re standing far away,” said Connie.
The modern ovens will come equipped with a timer, lighting, steamer, and of course, a transparent door.
“When we went down to see the oven, we also found out that even though the temperature is hot inside, we won’t get burnt if we touch the door. That I think is safer for our workers,” she said.
When asked about moving on to another career in the future, Connie’s reply was “this is it.”
“I don’t see myself doing other jobs. In the past, I’ve done some part-time work in logistics and retail before. I didn’t like it that much. When I work somewhere else, I must report to a boss. When it’s our own business, we get to be our own boss. I like it this way. I’ll do everything I can to help this business expand and succeed,” she said.