For 22-year-old Amy Syireen Marican, travelling around the world wasn't just something she enjoyed — it was also her livelihood.
So when the Covid-19 pandemic grounded a lot of flights, it not only affected her globetrotting lifestyle, but her income as well.
Used to fly once a week
Amy, who used to fly once a week out of Singapore now only has, at most, two flights a month.
She recalled feeling as though everything was “unreal” when it happened.
"For a person who loves her job and its perks, Covid-19 has greatly affected my lifestyle. (My job) was all about waking up at odd hours and putting on makeup, going to different countries every four or five days. Now, my body clock has gone back to how it was years ago."
But that's not necessarily a bad thing for Amy.
For one, she gets to spend more time with her husband.
As a cabin crew himself, Amy shared that they've never had the chance to spend so much time together, given the nature of their jobs.
But spending more time with her loved ones wasn't the only silver lining.
Another silver lining
The pandemic also forced her to pursue her newfound passion for baking.
Like most Singaporeans, she started cooking up a storm in the kitchen only when the circuit breaker period was in place.
Prior to that, she shared that she only baked once and that too was a "major fail".
"I had zero knowledge about baking before Covid-19. I tried to bake earl grey cookies once for Valentine's Day and that was a major fail."
Her experience as an air stewardess influenced the first thing she attempted to bake during the circuit breaker period: Cookies.
She wanted to recreate the chocolatey stuffed cookies she had from one of her previous work trips to the U.S.
From flop to top
Now, this is no small feat though, as the cookies she had were from Levain Bakery, and are often touted as New York City's most famous cookies.
Unlike her previous flop in the kitchen with the earl grey cookies, this batch of bakes turned out beautiful.
After receiving plenty of compliments on her cookies, she gathered the confidence to try baking pastries.
Now, it's easier for her to whip up these pastries than it is for us to pronounce them.
Some of her favourite things to make are choux au craquelin (crispy cream puffs) and babka (sweet braided bread).
Her bakes were so well-received by her family members, they encouraged her to start selling them.
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Last day of Bake Sale done! ✔️ The past three days have been awesome and super tiring but it was so worth it. Today, i had to wake up extra early at 6am because there were a total of 12 babkas! My oven definitely needs a rest after this 😂 Had an extra hour to play with so i decided to bake a mini Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies for all the customers today to commemorate the last day of my bake sale. (How extra can i be) hahah lol! To many more bake sales to come 🥂
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2nd Day Bake Sale ✔️ Sold 10 extra boxes in less than 10 mins! 💃🏻 Thank you so much for the support 😭❤️ you guys are truly amazing! The extra boxes consist of White Chocolate Red Velvet cookies, 70% dark chocolate Brookies and chocolate choux au craquelin. The brookies this time is a bit different because instead of using plain flour, i used german rye flour instead. So it’s fudgier inside hehe 🤪🤤
The first bake sale
In the midst of the circuit breaker period in May 2020, she started Butteria, her own home-based business selling baked goods.
Starting the business, however, was just the beginning of a slew of challenges.
One of them includes not knowing if anyone even wants to buy her bakes.
“I was afraid that my bakes aren’t [as] good enough as compared to the professional bakers out there,” Amy said.
After some trial-and-error with her circle of friends and family, she started her very first bake sale on May 17.
But she caught herself in another problem: Having more orders than she expected (a happy problem, admittedly).
With more than 35 orders, Amy had overestimated the number that she could manage.
It may seem little to the more experienced bakers, but the self-confessed newbie found herself stuck in the kitchen for a few days trying to complete them:
“35 orders may seem little for some home bakers but for a newbie like me, that’s a lot to take in.... It took me almost the whole day in the kitchen for a couple of days during Ramadan and it was my very first bake sale. It was a lesson learnt. So much respect for the bakers out there who do this every day because it is really tiring."
Bearing in mind what she learnt from her first bake sale, Amy has reduced the number of orders she takes in for each sale, which now hovers around 20 to 25 boxes a day.
Bake sales always selling out
However, she doesn't consider these challenges "extreme" thanks to the strong support system has found in her husband, family and a loyal base of customers.
In fact, she feels that starting Butteria has generally been a positive experience.
For example, her slots for the month of August were full, even though she has bake sales close to four days a week.
The air stewardess has even made some friends from this venture.
"I met so many lovely customers who then became friends. There are customers who even bought me gifts like food and drinks when they are picking up their bakes. There are even a few customers of mine who have been supporting me ever since my first bake sale till now."
Big plans for humble beginnings
While times are especially uncertain for Amy and her husband in the airline industry, she's thankful to have a business to call her own, and an additional avenue of income.
While she may not be able to do bake sales as regularly as other home-based businesses since she still has to be on standby for flights, she has many ideas in mind to grow Butteria.
And it seems like this newfound passion of hers won't fizzle out any time soon.
"I always tell myself that if I ever find something I love to do, I will not give up on it no matter how challenging it gets. I love doing what I do now even though it gets crazy in the kitchen most of the time."
Top image courtesy of Amy Syireen Marican.