This week, please join us and Peirong of Bakery Wellness, as we learn more about Bakery Wellness, a social enterprise that incorporate baking and social awareness for mental health. Bakery Welllness is an awareness movement for people suffering from mental condition to empower their stories through baking. This inspires the others to destigmatize about mental health.
1. Tell us more about Bakery Wellness. What was the purpose behind the idea? What are you focusing on at the moment?
Bakery Wellness is a social enterprise that incorporate baking and social awareness for mental health.
Our Vision is to bake the world a better place. Advocate inclusion for mental health.Our Mission is to educate, inspire and restore life.
Our Values are to use baking as a therapeutic tool for mental wellness, to respect individual mental health journey, to care and empathetic towards people with mental condition.
In 2015, I left my preschool teacher job for better career prospect (learning support educator role which I enjoyed) and went through a harsh breakup from previous relationship. Later on, I was diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder. During Chinese New Year in 2016, I started off by selling homemade pineapple tarts to friends and relatives. It was from then on that I began to gradually rebuild my confidence in life. That’s how Bakery Wellness is born! :)
2. Tell us more about yourself. What made you want to be an entrepreneur? Has it always been your childhood ambition?
I am an early childhood educator. Ever since I am diagnosed, It is extremely difficult for me to go back into working society. I experienced the stigma and countless of job loss due to lack of mental health awareness from the employers.
It strikes me hard to end this stigma. I want to be the voice for others who are still struggling with their mental health issues.
3. What are the difficulties that you face when venturing into Bakery Wellness, and how did you overcome those difficulties?
One of the difficulties was to get participants (caregivers and their loved ones in recovery from mental condition) on board for my The Baker’s Mind project during World Mental Health month.
Some of them are not willing to participate as photos will be taken.
The main reason was a few of them did not declare to their employers/schools and etc (because of stigma). My friend and I took time to build bonding with them and ensuring them the photographs taken was for funding purpose.
4. What are your views on mental health in today’s society, and how do you think we can improve our attitude towards it as a society?
Ever since the high rate of suicide cases of students and celebrity, the government and people started to have conversation about the importance of mental health. Compared to many years ago, we are more opened to talk about mental health in our current society.
To further improve on this, we need to be mindful of using the choice of words when comes to mental health. It is common to make remarks of words such as 'you are OCD, crazy, bipolar person'. We need to be empathetic especially those caregivers and person in recovery. In addition, to those who are still trying to seek professional help. This can cause more stigma in them.
Interestingly, we would not say ‘a cancer person’ but we would say that the person is suffering from cancer. The same goes for people suffering from mental conditions. Here is an example of the preferred language we should use: The person is living with depression.
5. What is the greatest satisfaction you have gained entering into this venture? How do you define success on your personal benchmark?
One of the greatest satisfaction came from The Baker’s Mind project. There was a pair of participant who was a caregiver and her son (a person in recovery from mental condition). They specially thank my good friend (volunteer for Bakery Wellness) and I for bringing them to an expensive Japanese restaurant. It was their first time eating there. They were looking forward to their first baking class!
To me, that restaurant is common for everyone to eat there. The price for that meal was comparable with cafe food pricing. It strikes me not to take things for granted. I learn to appreciate the meals I am able to pay for which not many people can afford to. When they mentioned they were looking forward to my baking class, I know I have achieved the outcome of the project!
Another unforgettable moment which I still remember. There were two visitors came down to buy cupcakes from my event at Young Entrepreneurs Fair. I remember one of them left a positive review on my Facebook page mentioning that ‘My buddy and I had a great time giving the cupcakes a try. I chose to sample “Tough” and left him “Life”. We figured if we are having a tough time, maybe it’s time to head out to Bakery Wellness and talk it out.’
My success comes from when I am able to make an impact on a person in their recovery journey or caregiver. In addition, when someone does not have any knowledge of mental health able to gain mental health awareness. I believe these small little steps are closer to make inclusion possible in our society. So never underestimate that! :)
6. Will you go through the same process if you have a chance to decide again?
Although I am still struggling to manage my mental health issues, I will not regret using my personal experiences to help others in the same journey as me.
I get to understand we are still the same people even before we are diagnosed. We have so much potential and ability beyond our mental health issues. It is just like a gemstone but have not been found by others yet :)
7. What advice would you give your younger self, if you get a chance to?
I wish that I seek help earlier so I will not affect my loved ones around me. I am grateful for my loved ones to support till now :').
8. Where do you see Bakery Wellness landing 3 to 5 years from now? Bakery Wellness will continue to educate, inspire and restore life. It’s an awareness movement for people suffering from mental condition to empower their stories through baking. This inspires the others to destigmatize about mental health. Baking is a therapeutic way to enhance one’s quality of life, rebuild confidence and relieve anxiety.
We want to provide an alternative way to promote mental wellness. Education plays a crucial role to understand about mental health and mental health knowledge begins with us and others. As mental disorders are difficult topics to talk about, hence we educate the public about mental health issues through social media, baking events and talks.
9. Last by not least, where can our readers out more about Bakery Wellness?
They can find out more about Bakery Wellness through our social media (Facebook, Instagram and website) for our latest updates.