Baked KL was founded by two sisters, Iza and Izi Sallehuddin, in 2011 after realising that their hobby had a potential to be turned into a business – the way most companies are setup. However, these girls have a slightly different agenda than the average bakers looking to win over the heart of sweet-tooths residing in the city. On top of creating gastronomical experiences for their customers, Baked KL also started a charity organisation entitled The Baked Foundation, whereby 10% of their monthly earnings are donated to one respected charity as the mission they’ve set up for themselves is to help out everyone as much as they can. JUICE spoke to Iza regarding the number of times they’ve been mistaken for selling goods to baked people, their charity initiatives, and keeping up with competition around the Valley.
Has baking been something the two of you always wanted to pursue career-wise?
No, we — my sister, Izi and I — were both from different backgrounds. I majored in International Fashion Marketing whilst Izi pursued Biomedical Science. Our online social baking business is accidental but more rewarding than anything we have ventured into before.
Oh wow, did you girls ever get to put those certifications to use?
Yeah, I worked as a Marketing Exec for a Fashion Designer for a year and a half, it was really fun, but then I took a break to focus on Baked KL, and ever since then I never looked back. Izi on the other hand, was an Underwriter but she joined me full time at the end of 2014 — finally!
So, you both don’t have professional training in baking? How did you learn?
Not at all. Just like how mothers learnt how to cook — from their moms. We learnt from our mom, my sister-in-law, and after tons of successful and failed experiments in the kitchen.
You guys set up a charity initiative called The Baked Foundation. What prompted you guys to start that?
It started off slowly, when we donated our baked goods to a charity organisation, then we had a ‘RM1 for RM1’ project whereby 10% from our sales, we would top off the same amount from our pockets. Doing those little things made us realise how many people out there needed funds, so we wanted to help. We were very small at that time, but the support and feedback from our customers on our initiative were great. The community and customers gave us the motivation we needed to keep at it. Since 2013, 10% from our sales have been going to different causes on a bimonthly basis, and we help them spread awareness of their causes online.
That’s really cool. How do you pick which organisation to work with every month?
There are so many out there, we try to get six different causes each year. We always manage to find really great unique charity organisations out there – to name a few, we have Red Bubbles, they deliver smiles to seriously ill children in hospitals through regular clown visits. Then, there’s Projek Seni Kami, which conducts creative art workshops to children in the indigenous community.
What other initiatives do you girls take besides giving the bimonthly contributions?
We promote their causes or events that they may have lined up mainly through Facebook and our blog. Depending on what they need, the donation could be used to buy their daily essentials, or to set up a programme that they will be conducting for the community. If they have a fundraising event or others, then we will volunteer to help out that day. We also have conducted a baking class as well with the kids. It differs from one organisation to another, but we do our best to help out wherever we can. The best part is, our customers can join in the fun too!
You guys are definitely doing a great job. Moving on to another topic — did you consider the other meaning ‘baked’ has when naming the company?
(Laughs) Honestly, no!
How many times have people mistook you for selling ‘baked’ goods?
They have never mistaken us for selling ‘baked’ goods but we do get the occasional request to bake them though. (Laughs) Just a heads up, we don’t take those requests but we believe our baked goods taste even better.
We assume there is a lot of positive factors when one run their own online business, but what are some of the challenges and how have you managed to overcome it?
Increasing prices in raw ingredients, logistics, etc. The challenge is not letting our profit margin suffer while still being affordable. We believe this problem will always arise from time to time and innovation — limited flavours, special gift sets to draw in the volume — is how we have overcome it so far.
There has been an increase of independent bakers around the Klang Valley, how do you manage with the competition?
By not following the trend. With social media, it is now faster and easier to be pressured in some way to follow a certain trend. Some people might think it’s a waste of an opportunity to neglect it. But trends die as quickly as they develop. We started off doing this business already differentiating ourselves from other bakers by focusing on only a few key products and our range of gluten free and vegan baked goods. Just keep doing our best to be innovative and unique. Differentiation is key. Too much of the same kills the industry in our opinion.
Like many F&B establishments that have to meet numbers, we’re sure you have your own quota. What’s considered a good month for Baked KL?
Having little to no sleep and back aches throughout [the month] (laughs).
Are there any plans for Baked KL to have a permanent space?
Of course, but as big as opening a permanent space, there’s a lot of research that needs to go with it too. We want to be sustainable and profitable so that we can continue to impact the community. Slowly but surely in the future.
What’s your favourite or most bizarre recipe to make desserts?
It is hard to choose a favourite! We would say our gluten free Madagascar brownie. It looks like a simple brownie, but tastes like no other. Most bizarre? We are quite open to flavours and experimenting, so, nothing bizarre just yet!
Man, we could use a brownie right now. Okay, last question, what’s your favourite JUICE?
Family, and the resounding quote “the more you give the more you will receive.”
Check out some of BakedKL’s goods below: