The Young EntrepreneurWritten by Yvonn Ong
Not your average college student, Jody Ang’s entrepreneurial journey started when she was 18. Here are some wise words from the creative genius behind Singapore’s cake-in-a-jar trend.
Jody Ang was not your average student back in high school. At the age of 18, the fresh college graduate took a few gap years to pursue her passion for baking which led to the start of a business journey.
Following the dessert in a jar trend, Jody launched Grin Affair as a new concept in Singapore that serves cakes in a glass jar. It’s no surprise Grin Affair caught on with the crowds and spread like wildfire in the years that followed.
Fast forward to 2017, with Grin Affair and her priorities in a different light, she handed the thriving business to her brother while she resumed her studies at the Singapore University of Management (SMU) to pursue not one, but two degrees.
As if to make up for lost academic time, Jody refuses to let hectic school life pose a threat to her entrepreneurial spirit and moved on to juggle her Double Degree with a new venture; Folks and Stories.
What inspired you to start Folks and Stories?
I have always found it tough to pick gifts for friends or families as it tends to be more stressful than enjoyable for me. I thought it would be interesting to make both gift-buying and gift-receiving process more fun and engaging; where the gifts are created from scratch and based on personality types.
I’ve also learnt in school about digital disruption, hence I decided to ride the wave and that’s how Folks and Stories came about!
Where did you get the personality types and what was your research behind it? What personality type are you?
I’m a social science student who enjoys observing and understanding people, so with my team, we gathered secondary research as well as focus group data before we came to a conclusion on the edible delights we wanted to create. The research isn’t foolproof, so we are in the midst of developing a quiz that can collect more information to help us fine tune along the way as well.
You’ve taken a few years off before going to university – could you share more about your experiences, and if that has helped prepared you for work?
I graduated from Junior College, without a clue on what I really wanted to pursue in University, so instead of rushing into it, I decided to give myself some time to work and explore to figure it out.
I did not expect to take a few gap years, but one job led to another and in the process, I was inspired to start my own business from the money I saved. It definitely gave me enough time to discover more about myself and allowed me to take a different path that offered new perspectives and giving me more certainty as to what I would want to do in life.
During the gap years, you started Grin Affair. What inspired you to take that first leap? What lessons have you learnt from opening A Grin Affair, and Folks and Stories?
It was purely out of a passion for baking and creating a unique experience for my customers where cakes are served in glass jars and not on plates and conventional boxes. I wanted to embrace the idea of being eco-friendly so by having glass jars, there was not a need for disposable wares, and they come in a string handle that can be carried on its own.
I’ve learnt from both starting a business and being in Singapore Management of University Business School that being able to adapt, staying relevant and being open to new experiences are the keys to growth.
With the digital disruption you’ve mentioned previously, how would you plan to stay ahead of the game?
I’m not the most tech-savvy person despite being a millennial but I acknowledge and embrace this disruption increasingly, and I will always be learning the new ways to leverage on this change, instead of being fearful of it. I think this mindset is important.