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Anne's Secret Recipe

I Left The Corporate World To Start Anne’s Secret Recipe From Home, While Raising Two Kids

Anne’s Secret Recipe

It’s been almost a year since Singapore went into full Circuit Breaker mode and many of us probably tried our hand at baking fresh goodies while stuck at home. Whether you succeeded or failed miserably, I think we can all agree that baking is a fun way to get involved in the kitchen. Just ask Anne Ong, the head honcho of one of Asia’s leading premix companies – Anne’s Secret Recipe.

In celebration of International Women’s Day together with Lazada, we spoke to the head chef herself to find out more about her story behind picking up the apron, and what it means to be a businesswoman in today’s society.

Anne’s Secret Recipe’s humble beginnings

Anne's Secret Recipe Box
Image adapted from: Lazada

Life just happens”. That’s Anne’s belief when asked why she made the switch from a corporate job to being a home baker in 2014. 

Surprisingly enough, her passion for baking and cooking didn’t begin in Singapore. It was only cultivated while she was studying for her degree in California. She recounted, “We didn’t have Peranakan cooking over in the US, so I started getting recipes from my mum over the phone and baking stuff that I wanted to eat.

This got the ball rolling and she continued this hobby of baking even when she graduated and returned to Singapore. But the real story behind her home business only happened years later when she became a mother.

Anne Ong Baking
Image adapted from: Lazada

Because her son in kindergarten requested for a change of food, Anne started whipping up batches of cupcakes for him and his schoolmates. This eventually caught the attention of the other mums who began asking for her recipes. But instead of writing it down for them, Anne decided to make small bags of pre-mixes to make their baking process easier. 

While she initially had no intention of turning this into a business, this side hustle of hers eventually grew into what is now known as Anne’s Secret Recipe.

“I had to learn the art of negotiating”

Anne Ong With Her Products
Image credit: Anne Ong

But starting her own business came with a fair share of challenges – especially as a woman new to the baking industry. Anne shares, “Being a woman going into a business that I had no track record in at all, I got “stomped” over a lot by suppliers when it came to pricing matters, so I had to learn the art of negotiating.” 

From the cost of ingredients right up to finding out the most ideal mixing process, Anne had to learn the ropes all by herself through research. Armed with passion, dedication, and countless hours of hard work, that all paid off when Anne’s Secret Recipe got stocked in supermarkets and business quickly took off due to positive word-of-mouth.

anne's secret recipe - Anne Ong BakingImage adapted from: Lazada

With her strong business sensibilities and fast decision-making skills, Anne’s Secret Recipe grew exponentially to become a well-loved brand among locals. That was taken even one step further when Lazada reached out to her to start retailing her items online as an alternative sales platform.

Today, Anne’s Secret Recipe is one of the leading premix companies in Asia. It not only survived, but thrived during a precarious time like Covid-19 – since many Singaporeans turned to home baking as both a casual hobby and source of income.

You learn along the way, and you have to learn fast,” Anne recalls about her brand’s journey. From only being stocked in physical stores previously, Anne’s Secret Recipe is now even available to ship to countries as far-flung as the Maldives, Brunei and China. In addition to expanding to more territories abroad, she also has upcoming plans to make her premixes halal and kosher certified, so that she can share her recipes with even more people. 

Giving back to society & advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

Despite her booming success, Anne remains humble and continues to use her products to give back to society. On the topic of surviving the Covid-19 pandemic, Anne also let us in on a glimpse of her thoughtful nature. 

As a mom herself, Anne wanted to give assistance to struggling moms out there who needed a way to make ends meet financially. She recalls, “We were helping mums who had lost their jobs learn how to bake and sell from their home. It was simply doing what I love, and it also helped make a difference in someone else’s life.

anne's secret recipe - Anne OngImage adapted from: Lazada

Before I ended my talk with Anne, I was also curious to find out what advice she had for aspiring businesswomen and new entrepreneurs. Her answer? “Never be afraid to venture out”. Self-doubt is inevitable among all of us, but Anne goes to show that stepping out of your comfort zone could be the stepping stone to success.

And that success only looks set to grow. Anne is always on the lookout for new recipes while ensuring that the taste of her cultural roots and heritage remain in her premixes. Her willingness to experiment with technology also ensures that she stays ahead of the ever-changing consumer market. 

Setting up Anne’s Secret Recipe with Lazada

Anne attributes her brand’s international success so far to eCommerce platform Lazada, which helped put Anne’s Secret Recipe on the map with overseas customers. 

anne's secret recipe - Lazada Anne's Secret RecipeImage adapted from: Lazada

She didn’t shy away from high praises for Lazada during our call, citing the need to emphasise on the “future of technology in this fast-changing world. “Not only has it introduced my business to an entirely new market, it also gives me accurate stats on sales and direct feedback from customers on how I can improve”. 

Filled with gratitude for the platform, Anne even shares that Lazada is one of the best platforms that [she is] on and [she hasn’t] looked back since.” She adds, “my friend in Indonesia bought my Pandan cake mixes from Lazada. It’s ways like these that makes me feel like I can share my love with them even though they’re far away”. 

Lazada’s Forward Women Awards for female business owners

anne's secret recipe - Lazada Award Anne Ong
Image credit: Lazada

Anne Ong is a true representation of what it is to be a businesswoman and a mother. In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2021, Lazada hosted its first Forward Women Awards to recognise the contributions of women in Southeast Asia. 

Since the very beginning of Lazada, they have continuously made it their priority to champion female entrepreneurs and aim to continue their efforts through this award. The award has three categories: Inspiring, Enterprising and Creative – the latter of which Anne is a recipient of for her contributions to the baking industry. 

I initially went into this interview thinking I was just going to talk to a successful businesswoman but more than that, I ended up getting to know a woman passionate about baking and helping others.

Despite my budding interests, I have always personally thought of myself as a potential kitchen arsonist. But with Anne’s encouraging words over the call, I’m now inspired to, at the very least, try to do some baking of my very own.

Shop Anne’s Secret Recipe on Lazada here 

This post was brought to you by Lazada. Responses have been edited for grammar and clarity.
Cover image adapted from: Anne Ong