D.I.L.E.M.M.A

When I first started Shiberty’s Sweets, nobody took me seriously.

I told people I was gonna bake and decorate pretty cakes and sell them online but I don’t think anyone gave a shit. No one saw the potential of it, not even me…

2 months down the track, suddenly everyone around me is encouraging me to go start a retail SHOP selling my bakes.

“You go to University for what?? You should open a shop!!!”

And I seriously mean EVERYONE. My mum has said it, my grandmother has said it, Sam has considered it, so many people online have said they wanna see us do it, Janice and my brother approve of it and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but… SHOULD I REALLY DO IT?

I mean, when I first started I could barely pipe a flower properly (still can’t do roses very well actually) but now I can create like over 10 different flowers and a lot of them are self-taught too. Of coz we can do a hell lot more than just flowers la.

I know it gets very boring to keep hearing me talk about Shiberty’s Sweets. But it’s a HUGE thing to me. I’m really proud of it and so pleased with all the joy it’s managed to bring to the people who have seen or eaten our products. It’s amazing to know a simple hobby can turn into me into a dedicated passionate worker. When your work is doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all.

For a home bakery I’m astonished at how much we can earn. And this is even when we are offering very competitive prices for the quality of work we produce.

I can’t help but wonder… what if this goes COMMERCIAL?

Would our sales and hype skyrocket? We’d have the advantage of an extra real life crowd instead of just my readers, and well… Singaporeans love their desserts. I see pastries shops selling mediocre pastries that don’t even taste that good, let alone look good and they’re already doing well!

I have a lot of confidence that if I do start a shop it will do really well.

Mainly because..

There is no cupcake shop around in Singapore that specializes in design that has a RETAIL SHOP, at least, none that I’ve known of. Even if there are, we’d be one of the very few around. So competition is rather low. And I happen to have the advantage of an online audience.

You might not think it may be much but hey, where do you think all my customers came from? First it came from my readers and our audience spreaded to a larger crowd via word-by-mouth! Do not underestimate having social media influence.

I’ll be frank and say that I’ve never actually came across a shop selling cupcakes before! Sure I’ve been to bakeries where there are a few muffins or plain cupcakes lying around with a dollop of frosting or two.

But I’ve never seen a whole shop dedicated to bringing you WELL-DESIGNED cupcakes, with fanciful decorations in loud colors. Designs you don’t see everyday. Designs that you can customize to the very last degree! The cupcakes shops I’ve seen are expensive, boring and the worst part is they seem to have no creativity. They’d give fancy names to their cupcakes calling it Berry Nice but all it is is really just a cupcake with blueberry bits in it and white plain frosting plopped on top.

Like this berry nice meh?!?!?!

Where are the shops that offer you FUN and CRAZY cupcakes that makes people go Oooohhh Ahhhh WOW when they see them?

To me, a cupcake has to taste good, but most importantly it has to LOOK good. If your cupcake doesn’t look good, then it has no worth because if it doesn’t look good I wouldn’t even wanna eat it in the first place right?

If people can say our cupcakes look so good that they can’t even bear to eat it and they stare at it and camwhore take pics with it as if it was some sort of damn trophy they won from entering a contest, then in my opinion we have already succeeded. In this aspect, we don’t only target people with sweet tooths.

We are also reaching out to an audience who normally do not eat sweet stuff but are tempted by our cupcakes because of how good it looks, and dare I say – most people are very weak-willed when it comes to yummy looking food and pretty frivolous things! Most peoples business run on catering to peoples demands. Whatever customer demand, they supply.

In our case, we actually CREATE that demand because you don’t just wake up one day feeling like having a cupcake. More like, you take a look at a well-presented delicious cupcake going “OOOH!! I wouldn’t mind one of those indeed!”

And of course, the next thing that pops into your head is the realization that you can customize your designs ANY DESIGN you like. Your brain then goes nuts thinking about all the designs you’d love to nomz on a cupcake.

That is our number one selling point.

We are not selling you flour and eggs in a cup. We are selling you our ARTWORK.

We are selling you our utmost effort, our unique creativity and designing flair, and our ability to provide all that for you at a competitive price.

And that is already reason enough for us to succeed. (WELL THIS IS ALL IN THEORY ANYWAY DON’T FLAME ME FOR BEING OVER MY HEAD OK)

Because, if you were to ask me,

“Hey Jess, where can I buy pretty cupcakes in Singapore?”

I wouldn’t have a clue besides Shiberty’s Sweets.

I know where you can get waffles, fruit cakes, pandan cake, cream puffs… The answer is anywhere and everywhere. You anyhow waltz into any bakery also can find.

The only creative cupcakes I’ve seen are from web stores and even so, most of them are made out of fondant. Can I be the first honest baker to say FONDANT TASTES LIKE FREAKING CRAP?????? It literally tastes like PLAY-DOH. It even feels and smells like play-doh.

That stuff looks really cool and you can mould a lot of things out of it but man, it tastes nasty. I always advise all my customers to pluck their fondant decorations off the cupcakes before biting into them because they turn rock hard over time when left to set and take shape.

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Ok now I’m just yabbering on about cupcakes stuff that you guys probably don’t understand anymore.

WHAT I’M REALLY TRYING TO SAY IS…..

I’m just trying to reason with myself…. whether it’s worth up giving up or postponing going to university in Perth.

You know, I’m not even going to be attending Curtin University directly, I’d be going to Curtin College for a year first before advancing to Curtin University itself, and if I want to complete my degree at Curtin Uni it’d take me a grand total of say 3-4 years?!!!?!?!

I CANNOT SEE MYSELF STUDYING FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS!!!! I’m already itching to go out and start work and experience new things.

My initial plan was to go to Curtin College and take their 1 year diploma first, then figure out if I wanna advance to their degree after that year. The reason I cannot go straight to degree is because I got my diploma from MDIS (which was also a 1 year course) and is not enough to enter Australian universities as the diploma standards are different, so I don’t need to take a FULL diploma course (which takes at least 2 years) but an entry level one or something like that la anyway all you have to know is I will be spending a year at Curtin College first.

But do you know 1 year at Curtin College costs close to 30k SGD?? THIRTY FUCKING THOUSAND YO!!! And this is NOT including extra costs such as Australia’s high living expenses blah blah blah.

I dread to think about how much my degree will cost me. (or actually, my parents.)

I also don’t think it’s right to spend so much of my parents money on a degree I’m not even that determined to get anymore. :(

Since I’m not planning to finish my degree, or at least for now I don’t think I will, it’s rather pointless for me to even go to Curtin College. What’s a 1 year diploma cert from Curtin going to prove? Curtin’s a good and nice school and all but it’s not even the top in Australia. Rather redundant if you ask me.

Suddenly I’m not so sure I even wanna go to Perth to study anymore.

I’ll admit that the main reason I wanna go to Perth is NOT to study but to experience the lifestyle there. To take a break from Singapore and live in Down Under… but of course, if at the same time I can further my studies and get myself higher education so that if I ever wanna work in Perth, it’s easier for me.

However now my vision is really hazy.

And I feel really guilty and reckless, because here I am, less than a month of my course starting and I feel like backing out already. Me, my mum and Sam have had to go through so much trouble just to get me through to this uni yet I’m thinking about giving it up. What’s wrong with me?!?!

Although it’s not so bad la since the course fee is refundable (as long as course hasn’t started) they will deduct a minimal fee.

I’m not saying I WANT to give up going to uni just to stay behind and set up Shiberty’s Sweets.

All I’m saying is, Shiberty’s Sweets is a really good opportunity right now… Like a REALLY good one.

It may succeed brilliantly as planned, or it may fall flat on my face and squash me and all my hopes and dreams like a bug that never got to see the light of day. Who knows? All I know is, if I don’t take jump at this now, I’m scared I won’t get a chance to work as something I love doing anymore. I’m scared I’m going to go to curtin college and be guilt-tripped into completing my degree and then graduatefrom uni and become a full blown average working office person with a 9 to 5 job and be bored out of my fucking brains.

THAT IS MY WORST FEAR.

I don’t see myself working with cupcakes the next 10 years so I might sell it off eventually if I ever do start it but I DEFINITELY cannot see myself being a normal working class person. I love money but money is not everything to me. If I’m miserable doing what I do then there is no fucking point because that money is not going to buy me fulfillment at all.

It is so so so important to me to be able to be my own person. And how bloody awesome would it be if I could set up a Shiberty’s Sweets store? My own creation, my own cold sweat and blood and joy!!!!!!!!

Something I can call MY VERY OWN. My little brainchild *tickles it*

..Ok now that’s just wrong lol.

But being my own boss sounds really appealing.

I’m really caught up with this because… it’s really nice to see people appreciate what you do. And I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard for something before, worked so hard till my eyes can’t even stay open, till my muscles ache from head to toe, till I cry my eyes out from all the stress and till my foreheads goes into full bloom with pimples. See this pic to know what I’m talking about.

If I’m really going to go to uni….. I might as well make full use of my cert. That probably means working with some fancy organization who’s going to judge me based on a piece of paper stating my qualifications. Maybe I’m just narrow minded but that already sets off warning alarms in my head going

“NO!!! DON’T GO DOWN THAT PATH. You’ll end up a middle aged woman sick of her mundane life and repeated scheduled activities, sick of her stupid job even though she lives in a nice house, married to an average husband but spends every second think about all the things she could’ve done when she was younger.”

I’m young now…. perfect time to chase after my interests and do the things I wanna do right? If I ever wanna complete uni, it will be right there waiting for me. I can’t say the same for this opportunity though. But there is also the question of what if I get sick of making cupcakes in 5 years time?

And then what? No degree, only a diploma from MDIS – Will I be able to get a different job then? My diploma is in mass comm lor totally no link to cupcakes please.

……Btw, telling me to go to uni first then start a shop is bloody pointless. I’m not going to pay over 60k AUD and get a degree just to come back to Singapore and sell cupcakes.

Plus, I have an advantage NOW. The hype around Shiberty’s Sweets is still buzzing. Our name is still fresh in everyone’s minds. The concept of designed cupcakes like ours is still very new and very fascinating to a lot of people.

A few years or months later, we may not have this advantage anymore.

I know setting up a shop is not easy. You need a lot of money, time, effort, research, employees you can trust, blah blah blah…. but I’m prepared to go through all that. Hardship was never an issue for me. I’m only worried the cons will outweigh the pros and that I’ll regret not going to Perth and living an easier life.

If I thought life in Perth was going to be hard, life in Singapore with my own store will be A LOT harder. But it’s the risk and experience that will make it that much more enriching, no?

Also, there’s another problem. This decision won’t only affect myself.

Sam has quit his well paying respectable job in Melbourne to come live with me in Singapore several months ago, thinking I’d go to Perth with him and move in together with him. Well, that was the plan.

Now that I’m *considering* not going to uni anymore… what’s going to happen to the both of us?! I mean of course he’ll still choose to stick with me but I think it’s kinda unfair to him, that I made him wait so long but in the end we don’t even get to move into a new house together as planned. If I start a retail shop, I’d definitely need his help as well so if we fail, that’s 2 persons failing together!!!

Sam’s not very young anymore. He’s 24, and at his age working experience is very valuable. He’s already wasted enough time mucking around waiting for me to come to a decision. I’d hate to waste another year or two of his trying out this store and having it fail, then FINALLY moving to Australia to stay. Sigh.

What does he think of all this?

Well he thinks it’s a big fat risk, but one worth taking. He hasn’t told me which to do or not to do yet, like me, he’s confused too. We both see the good and bad in both situations. We’re both excited about having our own store. We’ve actually discussed this a LONGGGGG time ago and it’s so nerve wrecking to think it could actually come true soon!

I AM SO CONFUSED. Help???

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I HAVE SO LITTLE TIME TO DECIDE. Less than a week I’m meant to be in Perth already. It’s a serious case of Now Or Never.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.