Starting a Home-Based Bakery From Scratch: Here’s How Averlynn from Mai Hiam Buay Pai Did It

When I first spoke to Averlynn about her dreams of starting a business of her own a couple of years back, we were seated at a rather crusty-looking bar, sharing a bottle of red wine. 

“Have you ever thought of starting something on your own?” I asked. 

At that time, Averlynn had been working at a bakery start-up called Bakestarters, a company that aims to make baking more accessible to novice bakers through beginner-friendly baking workshops, and baking kits that are delivered right to your doorstep. 

As a marketing executive and a test kitchen baker, she was no stranger to baking a variety of cakes, tarts and desserts, so  I thought that starting her own business was a natural next step for her. 

She commented that it has always been on the back of her mind to start her bakery, but was always hesitant to take the first step, knowing how much of a commitment it was. 

She shared about a budding idea of starting a brownie business, while I shared my own lofty ambition of starting a social marketplace that connects vulnerable groups to the right resources that they need. 

3 years since this conversation, Averlynn’s home-based bakery, Mai Hiam Buay Pai has become very well-established in the baking scene in Singapore, with more than 5,000 followers and many recurring customers. Embarrassingly for me, I haven’t made as much headway in the entrepreneurship space as I hoped to some three years ago. 

Source: Instagram

Having tried and failed multiple half-baked ventures in the past, I have huge respect and admiration for Averlynn. Getting started isn’t the difficult part when starting on a new venture – it is the commitment and grit to keep going at it consistently, to work even when you have so little of yourself to give, to keep at it even when the results don’t show in the initial stages. 

There is a lot that goes into starting a home-based business, and if you’re thinking of starting one but is hesitant to do so, here is a quick interview I did with Averlynn to share a bit more insights on how you can start your home-based bakery from scratch.


Q: Hi Averlynn! Could you share a bit more about yourself and your business?

Hello! I’m Averlynn and I’m 27 this year. I’ve always had a huge interest in baking and started baking when I was 13. I’ve undertaken all things baking throughout these years, be it personally or professionally. From sharing my creations online to managing content & product development for @
bakestarters for over half a decade, my passion fuels me.

My home-based bakery, Mai Hiam Buay Pai, is named after a Hokkien saying which translates to “if you’re not fussy, it’s not bad (lah)”. I initially thought of naming this business something along the lines of “__ bakes” or “__ patisserie”, or some punny/cute name. But, on a breezy night run trying to burn some brownie calories (how ironic), I thought, heck it, let’s acknowledge my Hokkien roots! 

Thus, Mai Hiam Buay Pai was born.

I started this small business because I love brownies, and I love baking. Baking has always been an outlet where I can destress, live in the moment, and temporarily shelf all the hyperactivity in my brain. This name was thus picked as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement and reminder towards myself (& hopefully to you, too) to live a little, laugh a little more, and embrace all that life has to offer—brownie in hand or not.

I’ve always liked baking with chocolate, and it is also incredibly versatile. Besides chocolate, I also enjoy alcohol and love how different types of alcohol marry so well with chocolate and elevate baked treats. I enjoy experimenting and coming up with uniquely flavoured alcoholic-infused brownies that packs a punch in the booze department.

Q: So why brownies? Why not other baked goods?


Source: MHBP, Instagram

I’ve always liked baking with chocolate, and it is also incredibly versatile. Besides chocolate, I also enjoy alcohol and I love how different types of alcohol can marry so well with chocolate and elevate baked treats. I enjoy experimenting and coming up with uniquely flavoured alcoholic-infused brownies that really pack a punch in the booze department.

Q: What made you decide to go into setting up a home-based business? 

Contrary to popular belief, my home-based business wasn’t a result of the COVID pandemic. In fact, I started it only after the pandemic when Singapore opened up.

Since young, I’ve always wanted to start my own business and sell my creations. After a long period of consideration and prepping, I finally decided to take the leap. 

As a person, I do not like to commit to things if I’m incapable of putting in my all or am not confident of doing it well. Hence, it took me a while before I decided to put my foot down and start the business at 25, while juggling my full-time marketing job. 

At that point in time I finally felt like I had enough knowledge and expertise in different parts of running a business, such as running the operations to managing logistics. 

Q: What was your focus for Mai Hiam Buay Pai when you first started out, and what are you focusing on now? 


Source: MHBP, Instagram

The focus of MHBP when I first started has remained the same for 2+ years. We focus on selling quality Belgian dark chocolate fudge brownies in a variety of unique flavours, with classic and boozy options! We also offer custom brownies for party gifts and wedding favours. 

Q: What were some of your biggest challenges when you first set up your home-based business?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was ensuring that my customers had a seamless user experience when purchasing the brownies online. At the same time, I have to balance that with certain constraints, such as budget limitations, logistics, and more.

To ensure that I give customers a good experience, I will speak to customers and ask them what their pain points are. Thereafter, I will prioritise what to tackle first based on their needs. 

Delivery can also be a challenge for many home-based businesses. Ensuring that logistics run smoothly and that customers receive the brownies how they were intended to be can be a challenge for fragile baked goods. Taking time to find reliable delivery drivers and proper packaging is incredibly important. 

When looking for packaging for your products, always consider your logistics in mind. Communicating with my delivery drivers clearly, and educating my customers on the delivery process and expectations are small steps I take to help reduce friction and issues during delivery.


Q: How did you manage to secure your first few sales?


Source: MHBP, Instagram 

As I have a background in marketing from my past working experiences, I’m no stranger to social media marketing. Currently, Instagram Ads and word-of-mouth have been key drivers of sales, and to this day I continue to actively market and post social content to engage our current audience and grow our follower base.

To be effective in marketing, keep your ears on the ground and listen to what your customers have to say. 

Negative and constructive feedback are extremely valuable in finding out where you can improve. Of course, listen and implement discerningly too. 

Q: Do you have a daily routine that helps you stay focused as a business owner? Could you share it with us?

Systems and processes are very important in business. As such, at the very start of my business, I’ve always looked at the different parts of it through the lens of creating systems and processes to ensure consistency, streamline operations, maximise efficiency, and reduce errors. This has been vital in helping me manage my time, ensure quality control in every baked good that goes out, and reduce unnecessary slip-ups. 

Q: Lastly, do you have any budgeting or financial tips for new bakers so that they’d know what to expect? 

It’s important to know your different costs including your time/labour and include buffers before pricing your products. There should be an emphasis on planning/knowing your costs before doing any pricing, instead of plucking numbers from the air or basing your prices solely on competitors.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Averlynn’s business or grabbing an indulgent brownie for the festive season, feel free to head over to Mai Hiam Buay Pai’s Website or Instagram page.

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