Sunday, September 29, 2013

Interview with Owners of Bud of Joy (Healthy Bakery in Singapore, Finally!)

I was a happy camper when I found out about Bud of Joy, a bakery in Singapore that sells healthy bread and baked goods. Recently, I got a chance to visit their bakery and met the owners. I got to try a wider variety of their products, talked for hours about healthy living and surprised how similar we are on our beliefs. I interviewed Sarah, the wife of the engineer-turned-baker Lim Her-Yi, about starting this bakery, the challenges, and rewards while running this business. Hope this will help you understand about them and their products!

What inspired you to start this bakery? 

We have been eating organic since our school days as we have a number of friends and relatives who also eat organic. However, it was very difficult to find a good range of breads and other baked goods that met our requirements, meaning bread that is fully organic and preferably made from whole grains. Since we also have a group of relatives and friends who were looking for such food but were too busy to keep baking at home, we decided to start this bakery. So basically, you can say we started this to feed ourselves and our friends. We also considered that it would be good for our family life as we could spend more time together. 

Did you (or your husband) learn to bake professionally or is this a hobby? 

My husband basically learned baking at home, through reading, reasoning and experimenting. When he felt ready to be a full-time baker, he attended a 2-week course on professional baking. I don’t bake. I just taste his yummy baked goods and help by giving some comments! 

What were some concerns, if any, of starting a business like this (e.g. did you think there is a market for healthy baked-goods in Singapore (because price could be an issue)? 

Our main concern was whether such a business could be sustained long-term, whether it would be viable, especially since much time and hard work would have to go into the baking process. The cost of our ingredients is also high as we use the best certified-organic ingredients we can find. However, as we pondered over how meaningful it was, we decided to go ahead. There is definitely a market for healthy baked goods. We have had a substantial number of customers who have come to our bakery from different locations in Singapore because they can’t find what they need elsewhere. Some are looking for baked goods that are fully chemical-free. Some are looking for freshly-baked gluten-free products. Some are looking for low GI foods for themselves, their friends or their family members who have diabetes. Some are looking for 100% wholemeal breads. It is always a joy when customers tell us they are glad to find a bakery they can trust. Price is an issue as it is not cheap to eat organic in Singapore. However, when customers come to know the ingredients we use and the kinds of things we avoid using, they know what they are paying for, so they spend willingly and gladly. For those who eat organic as a lifestyle, they know the cost of organic food so they don’t have issues with the price. In fact, we have had comments from different people that our organic baked goods are very reasonably priced. People are very well-read these days. They go online, do a search and within seconds, they get a whole lot of information. Because of this, we have customers who are very discerning when it comes to food. These people are more than happy to pay for high-quality organic baked goods. God has also been gracious to us to provide us with this space to start this business. 

What is the biggest challenge, if any, of running this business? 

The biggest challenge, for now, is actually finding enough time and energy to fulfil all the orders that we receive. We do not use chemicals to speed up the baking process so it is very time-consuming and labour-intensive. However, because we know we are providing our best to our customers and we are contributing to the welfare of others, we find joy and strength. 

What is the biggest reward of running this business? 

The greatest reward is really getting to know our customers, knowing their concerns and needs and addressing their needs. We find it very meaningful to provide a variety of healthy baked goods for them. Some of them have become our regulars and friends, and they enthusiastically promote our baked goods to others on their own initiative, which is very cute. 

What are the top-selling products in your bakery and why are they special? they made and delivered fresh daily? 

Our top-selling products include our muesli, almond butter, wholemeal breads and chiffon cakes. Our muesli is freshly toasted, fragrant, crunchy and makes for a heart-healthy breakfast. It is yummy with milk or yoghurt. Nut lovers love it. Those always on-the-go usually opt for our granola bars as you don’t need a spoon to eat the bars. Our almond butter is highly popular as it is freshly ground in our bakery and contains no preservatives. It is nutritious and fragrant. Our almond butter consists of only two ingredients: freshly toasted organic almonds and a pinch of Himalayan rock salt. Its natural sweetness comes from the nuts themselves. It is superb when spread on cookies and breads. We do not have any peanuts in our bakery as there is the risk of aflatoxins in peanuts. Our wholemeal breads are popular because while they are fully wholemeal, they are not coarse. We are delighted to hear repeated comments from customers who love the taste and texture of our breads. Our breads are among the healthiest baked goods in our bakery and we are proud of them. Our chiffon cakes are also freshly baked and without chemicals. They don’t even have baking powder or emulsifiers, so there is no chemical after-taste at all. They are soft, moist and fragrant. We use fresh fruits and juices pressed here in our bakery. The ingredients are also organic. Where there are no organic counterparts, we use pesticide-free ingredients, e.g. garden-grown pandan leaves. 

If you do make them fresh daily, what happens to the leftovers (unsold bread)? 

We freeze them as bread can be kept frozen for 2 to 3 months. We steam them for 10 minutes to eat them. They are soft and delicious when steamed. We minimize wastage by requesting that people order online for our baked goods. We do not bake a lot and then display a variety in our bakery though that would look very welcoming and appetizing. It is a waste to throw away nutritious food. 

Do you cater for parties (can we order birthday cakes, etc.) and do delivery? 

Yes, we do make birthday cakes and cupcakes and we provide small parties or gatherings. We also provide refreshments for those working in offices. We are currently looking into hampers as we have had some enquiries on that. We are currently also sourcing for a courier that charges a low delivery-rate so that our customers only need to pay a small fee to the courier for delivery. 

Feel free to add additional information that you like my readers to know about your bakery. 

Our bakery does not use trans fat (e.g. margarine), preservatives, GMO ingredients, artificial coloring, synthetic hormones, artificial flavors or sweeteners, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, refined white sugar or corn syrup, bread improvers/ emulsifier or added gluten flour / vital wheat gluten. In addition, our breads do not contain dairy, eggs, sugar or white flour. All our ingredients are listed on our website and on our packaging so that buyers can make informed choices as to they consume. We are also looking into providing a wider range of baked goods for those on a gluten-free diet. We sprout our buckwheat grains before fermenting them and our wheat sourdough goes through at least 8 hours of fermentation before being baked.

Vicky's Note: I have to just add my comments on leftover bread. There is a bread vending machine where I live and a bread truck comes daily to take away yesterday's bread and replenish with new bread. I asked the driver where will yesterday's bread go and he plainly stated they will be thrown away. Isn't it unfortunate? I love that Bud of Joy's owners encourage customers to order online to minimize waste and that they don't display and sell too many fresh bread in their store. That's a way of being a great steward to our resources that God has blessed us with!

Drop by and say hello! They are located on 71 Circuit Rd #01-31, Singapore 370071. Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11AM-6PM. Tell them you heard about them from Vicky (Pasture Living), maybe they will give you free samples ;)

Disclaimer: I'm not an affiliate of Bud of Joy and this post is not sponsored by them. All opinions are of my own.

1 comment:

  1. Im new to Singapore and Ive been searching around for healthy options of bread rather than those shelve top breads in the market! Thanks for the tips!