Emily Chhen • Melbourne
Emily Chhen was an ambitious young woman working in biotech but for years she wanted to do something different. Something always stopped her.
Then a mindset change saw her jump right in … and she’s never looked back.
“I always wanted to run my own business but when I had an idea that I really liked, I found myself looking for reasons NOT to do it instead. Then one day, I came to the realisation that it was now or never – I just HAD to give it a try,” she explains.
Emily was invited to a housewarming party and decided she wanted to bake something as a gift. All of the ingredients in her pantry had passed their use by dates. Realising it had been that long since she’d baked, it dawned on Emily that a one-off baking kit had great potential.
“And that was the gem of the business – a homemade baking service. All dry ingredients and decorations delivered to the customer’s door with no waste, whether they want to bake with their kids every weekend or for a special occasion once a year.”
Once the name, Bake It Box, came to her, there were no more hurdles. Emily’s business was born.
After some research, she used Business Victoria and local council websites to get her first few steps right. She said that the checklists she found were particularly helpful and gave her a good, practical guide to follow.
Even then, Emily says she spent the first few months in shock.
“I just kept thinking, ‘oh my goodness, I’ve actually done it’,” she laughed.
Bake It Box runs as an eCommerce business from Emily’s home. She leases a commercial kitchen for tasting and experimenting. The business operates by creating one-off special baking kits for cakes, cookies, biscuits and treats. There’s also a monthly subscription service, all marketed via her website and social media.
“I remember my first customers so fondly. They gave me lovely feedback and sent me photos of the cakes they’d made. They were complete strangers but I was so proud of them!”
After a year or so she says she became a ‘hermit’. “I just loved working on the business so much, I never wanted to go anywhere!”
Then Emily attended a Small Business Festival event recommended by her sister. It changed everything.
“Bake It Box was still just my fun little side hustle until that point,” she explains. “But I heard some speakers talking about how to take your business to the next level and was hooked!”
Prior to that, Emily hadn’t prioritised growth. “It was just a bit of fun, but after being inspired by these entrepreneurs and their amazing stories, I wanted to really give it a real go and got more serious. And I have to say that it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Into the future, Emily is looking to expand her baking kit range with more campaigns, and to employ some staff.
The last few months have been ‘massive’ and as Emily says, she loves ‘being present in the business.’
“Until it all kicked in, I was always asking myself if I could be an entrepreneur, if I was doing the right thing. But I’ve really undergone such great personal growth through the business.
You’ll always be scared and have self-doubt. But once you learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable in your own business, the sky is the limit. Don’t overthink it – just do it!”