Updated: Jul 1, 2021
A business baked with the right recipe of vital ingredients – family!
It’s not hocus pocus, mother-in-law knows best! Meyer Chong attests to that. It is because of her dear mum-in-law, Allison, that she’s in a thriving business.
The motherly influence that a family that bakes together makes any venture a piece of cake also holds so true!
Today, the family of Mother-in-Law, Daughter-in-Law and Daughter are proud of their self-rising business in their HokusPokus Treats, an online enterprise selling home-made brownies and biscotti.
Looking back, Meyer is amazed with her mum-in-law’s recipe of a mix of the baker girls as the right ingredients for business to take off!
When Meyer graduated from dentistry in 2020, she needed a source of income besides putting her time to good use. She doesn’t know when she would get her posting and, with the uncertainties of Covid-19, she could not get a job.
Starting an online business seems most logical. She had the brainwave of making and selling doughnuts online. The snag? She doesn’t know how to bake!
Allison saw the possibility of making Meyer’s idea a reality. She has her tried and tested brownies recipe. Meyer has the gumption and the agility to jump hoops in an online universe being young and, in the generation, more exposed to online intricacies. And Allison’s daughter, Naomi, with her marketing skills, complete the picture to start up HokusPokus Treats.
“I’d always loved baking so I have the ovens, the space and equipment all ready,” said Allison who was prepared for her home kitchen to turn into an industrial one.
A perfectionist and one who does not believe in compromising on quality, Allison imbued in Meyer the need to be consistent – in taste, in presentation and use of quality ingredients – all the time. And it is not always easy.
“Quality consistency is very important to us. We all know too well how food businesses start off well only to skim on ingredients and size as they progress. We don’t want the same for HokusPokus Treats. Our promise is premier quality and taste consistency all the time,” said Meyer.
She added: “Ours is truly a classic home recipe that is loved originally by my mother-in-law’s friends and family. We want to keep that standard.”
Allison chipped in: “We also have to be realistic because at the end of the day, it is a business and we have to make enough to be profitable and carry on. Having said that, it is also not just the money. It is about the three of us and the family having fun as well.”
Naomi, who works with a multinational analytics software company and the “marketeer” of the trio, confessed that running a business is vastly different from being employed.
“At work my focus is mainly B2B whereas this home-based enterprise is B2C. It is very different. I have to research the consumer market and their mindset. Basically, to be consumer-centric. Our communications also have to be different – concise, punchy – especially when our platform is the social media channels,” she said.
On the other hand, her involvement provides her with a multi-faceted perspective and one that she can apply at her day job as she interfaces with her corporate clients. At the same time, the experience and knowledge gained from her regular work, for instance, supply chain processes, are put to good use at HokusPokus Treats in terms of orders and inventory.
The consummate marketeer revealed: “We are not here just to sell. We think about the whole consumer experience -- ways to eat the brownies/biscotti and what to pair them with, the easy gifting options and presentation. It appeals to the consumer at every level.”
What’s the most memorable experience for this fledgling enterprise?
Both Allison and Meyer concurred: “Definitely the sudden order of 20 boxes of brownies to be delivered overnight! We were on our feet for 17 hours! It was a personal challenge! We have to make sure that each brownie was the same size and every batch tasted the same! We really baked till we dropped but we enjoyed it!”
On the added challenge of running a family business and overcoming disagreements the three agree on the importance of communication and honesty.
“Sure, we disagree because we get so passionate about the business. But we always remind ourselves that it is not about the individual. We focus on the big picture and learn to park our egos outside. We tell ourselves that it is not personal. It is very important for us to be honest, keep communicating and keep each other in check.
“At HokusPokus Treats, everyone’s heart is at the right place and we all want what is best for each of us,” offered Allison.
What’s next for HokusPokus Treats and the baking trio?
“I would like to expand and grow the business if I can. The reality is, I know I will get posted soon and when that happens, I won’t have that much time to bake. I can’t imagine sourcing out or hiring because I cannot oversee the quality and consistency which are our product promise.
“So, I will continue to bake over the weekends and during my free time. Maybe the limited output would put our products at an even higher premium! Till then, HokusPokus Treats will remain my main focus,” revealed Meyer.
Get your brownies here via their Instagram!