What started off as a hobby became a full-fledged cake business for one Australian-Filipina entrepreneur, writes MICHELLE BALTAZAR.
It all started from a problem that needed solving. Back in the Philippines, young mum Lovely Bandal had no trouble getting made-to-order children's birthday cakes at reasonable prices. There was always a bakeshop that can cater to her requests, even if she's on a tight budget.
Then her family migrated to Australia and she discovered that she struggled to find the right birthday cake at the right cost.
"Frustration and guilt attacked me because I couldn't fulfil my daughter's birthday wish: the cakes on display at local bake shops were not the kind she wanted," said Bandal.
"Then I had my boy and I became even more frustrated. As a mum, you always want to make your kids happy and feel very special on their special days."
She took the leap on her daughter's 12th birthday by baking cupcakes and cakes from cake boxes. She did some research and taught herself how to do simple cake decorations.
"I had received great compliments and kind words from my earlier efforts on decorating cakes and finally, I was able to grant my daughter's wish to have a custom Hello Kitty cake."
As her confidence grew, she decided to start her own cake business, the Gold Ribbon Cake (www.goldribboncake.com.au).
"All my cake recipes are my own and I use good quality ingredients," she said, adding that her speciality is making custom cakes including ones made out of personal photos, 3D pictures and wedding themes.
She also bakes the classics, such as chocolate, mocha and red velvet cake although many of her Filipino clients order her ube or purple yam cake, which comes with macapuno and yema flavours.
To celebrate her first year in the business last month, Bandal decided to thank all her friends and supporters with a cake party that also raised funds for charity.
"I showcased my different cake designs and gave my guests a chance to taste my best-seller cakes. I also shared the special occasion with new small businesses that I know have dreams like me. They were part of the event as volunteer exhibitors."
By the end of the party, everyone had a slice of Gold Ribbon - including Bandal's chosen charity foundation "Project Pearls", which is an outreach program that helps underprivileged children in the Philippines. She intends to keep helping the foundation by donating part of her cake sales to them.
While running a business is challenging, it's been a fulfilling journey for Bandal, who proved that you can fulfil your dreams as long as you work hard enough to achieve them.
"There were moments when I almost wanted to give up because I felt like I had no clear idea of what I was doing. I have burnt many cakes and even burnt myself."
She also had detractors. "When I was just starting, I had received nasty feedback where people say my works are not original and that I'm a tryhard baker and decorator."
But Bandal persisted and continued to work on her baking skills and craftsmanship.
"I love art and found that cake decorating is a good medium to express my artistic side," she said.
Her cake business is just the beginning, too. She also does event planning and has other business projects in the pipeline.
And unlike her early years in Australia when getting the perfect cake for her kids proved challenging, this time around, they can choose whatever birthday cake they want and the answer they will get is simply "yes".
Find out more on www.goldribboncake.com.au
Photos by Lovely Bandal.