How many of us in Singapore hear about this country called Timor-Leste (East Timor)? Just 3 facts about Timor-Leste that you should know:
- Timor-Leste is located in South East Asia, only 2679 km from Singapore, south-east of Indonesia.
- Timor-Leste has a population of only 1.167 million population, less than a third of those of Singapore but has a land size 20X of Singapore
- Half of this population of Timor-Leste lives in extreme poverty, with an income less than $1.90 per day per head.
One of the hillside of Timor-Leste
You might be wondering why I am talking about Timor-Leste when I am supposed to interview a bakery. As it turns out, the next bakery that I am featuring was started because the founder has the hope of feeding hungry children in Timor-Leste. As shared by the 3 facts of Timor-Leste above, many children there do not have access to nutritious food and to them, even an egg is already a delicacy.
Prior to founding a bakery, Lisa spent 6 years in Public Relations and Branding, specifically in F&B, hospitality and tourism sectors. During one of the mission trip to Dili, capital of Timor-Leste, she witnessed how poor the nation is and how malnourished the children of Timor-Leste are. Instead of ignoring the problem, which many of us would do, she saw this as a greater calling. Shortly after, Lisa quit her white collar job and started Ugly Cake Shop. And here’s the really cool part: UCS CONTRIBUTES 20% OF ITS PROFITS TO FUND SCHOOL MEALS IN SHALLOM SCHOOL LOCATED IN DILI.
The Ugly Cake Shop
Lisa, your story is super inspiring for all of us and I hope we can encourage more Singaporeans to do good for the less fortunate around us. But why the name Ugly Cake Shop?
Most people find our name funny. I have had friends asking me: “Why name it ‘Ugly Cake Shop’? People will buy meh?” Aside from it being a name that is easy to recall, we thought the name is really apt for our approach to cakes. We don’t believe in using artificial color or fondant which are typically used to make cakes pretty. We also stay away from artificial flavor and stabilizers. Essentially, I wanted to make cakes with no-nonsense awesome ingredients that I would feed my family.
It must be extremely challenging to bake attractive cakes without the use of artificial coloring and stabilizers. But it does seem that you have a steady stream of customers ready to order from you. What are some of the best sellers in your bakery that made the customers coming back for more?
Our best-selling cakes are Big Daddy – a super chocolatey cake made with Nutella and Valrhona, Sally – a dark chocolate and peanut butter cake that is reminiscent of Reese’s pieces and Juliana – our salted caramel cake that is made with French butter and high quality brown sugar, sprinkled with sea salt flakes.
Looking good from left to right – Big Daddy, Sally and Juliana
You mentioned that 20% of your profit goes to a school in Dili. How has that been coming along?
We still have a long way to go before we can fully fund this project on a sustainable basis but as we grow the business we believe we will be able to reach this goal one day.
So folks, please do support the Ugly Cake Shop in their social and community efforts. Not only their cakes taste good and are super healthy, you will also get to do your part for the less fortunate, which is always good!
We do see many aspiring bakers who want to open their own bakery in Singapore these days and the technology growth is making it very easy for them. What is your one piece of advice you would give to aspiring bakers who want to start a bakery?
For the love of baking, don’t open a cake shop! Haha! Having spent almost 2 years on this bakery in full time capacity, I realize that if I want to grow the business, I have to slowly relinquish my role as a baker and focus on business development as this is crucial to the survival and success of any business.
Living in a country where there is a high manpower cost and rental, starting a business is already not easy. And having to donate 20% of your hard earned profit to our less fortunate friends is doubly hard. I personally admire the spirit of Lisa and her sense of purpose and I hope more of us could learn from her where we share what we have generously. On behalf of our readers, I wish UCS all the best in her business and her social responsibility program.
And if you would like to support her business, visit here to find a list of her cakes.