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The sweet and comforting elements of kuehs and a mother’s love

Having a conversation regarding motherhood often ends up with two diametrically opposing concepts pitted against each other. Motherhood is either the “Instagram filter” of that ideal mom who’s perfectly groomed with well behaved kids, or it’s the “reality” of a woman at her wits’ end, frustrated at the difficulties brought about by being a mother.

For Mother’s Day this year, we want to delve into the relationship a mother has with her children. For instance, forging a meaningful mother-daughter relationship is a societal expectation of any mother. That’s tough enough as it is but what if you add the complexities of being business partners with your child? That’s the lived reality of Elizabeth Chan and her mom, Sandy Tan – the mother daughter duo behind Kueh Ho Jiak.

How it all began

Interestingly enough, the first inkling of Kueh Ho Jiak forming was due to motherhood itself. About a decade or so ago, it was Elizabeth who was getting ready to have her first child. “My mom decided to quit her job (she’d been working in Australia all this while) to come back to live in Singapore and babysit my daughter,“ Elizabeth says. 

Sandy would spend the first couple of years at home, babysitting her granddaughter, Penelope. When Penelope started preschool, that opened up some free time for Sandy. While her granddaughter was in school, she picked up baking – more specifically the making of kuehs. 

She fell in love with the art of making kuehs and a home based business was formed. Family and friends would support by ordering kuehs as gifts. “Initially, I helped by managing deliveries. This was until I decided to join my mum in the business as I was inspired by her passion and love for others,” Elizabeth recalls.

A pair of strong willed women, working in tandem

Fast forward to today and Kueh Ho Jiak has definitely grown in stature. Elizabeth and Sandy now oversee a team of seven. From managing deliveries in the early days, Elizabeth now takes up multiple roles within the business. Be it business development, social media marketing, research and development and she even works in the kitchen when needed.

“The initial phase was very tough to be honest. It was our first time doing F&B, the hours were long, the environment in the hawker was new to us as well. On top of that, both of us are very strong characters,” Elizabeth explains. This led to differing opinions and arguments galore. Over the years, they’ve had to learn how to bring out the best of each other at work. 

“We learnt so much more about each other, what we liked or disliked. How to communicate in a better manner. We are so much happier now, we understand & appreciates each other’s hard work in the family & business,” Elizabeth says.

Being business partners has also helped improve their personal mother-daughter relationship. Elizabeth and Sandy hadn’t lived together since Elizabeth was young, so running Kueh Ho Jiak together became a journey for them to understand each other on a more personal level.

“It’s a new finding everyday, like a jigsaw puzzle. Slowly, piecing up the missing jigsaw pieces from my childhood days.”

No regrets at all, just growth 

Taking a second to look back, Elizabeth has had no regrets working alongside her mom. Not only has her relationship with her mom strengthened, she’s experienced a great deal of personal growth too. Even now, despite the challenges brought about by the circuit breaker period, Kueh Ho Jiak is still going strong. While retail has decreased, their online transactions have increased tremendously – to the point where they’ve had barely 4 hours of sleep daily. “It was really tiring, as it was a sudden increase but at the same time, we are truly very grateful and happy,” Elizabeth says.

Mother’s Day this year will be a little different but what stays the same is the quality time spent together. “I do have plans to surprise my mom with a Mother’s Day gift but most important is to hug her very tight!” Elizabeth quips. Simple, sweet and comforting, just like the irresistible kuehs they make on a daily basis.

If you’ve got a sudden craving for some kuehs, click here to get yourself some sweet delicacies from Kueh Ho Jiak! Here’s a quick reminder for you to shower your mom with some extra love this Mother’s Day. Wishing all moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day!

We, at Delegate, have started an initiative to support vulnerable individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 situation. During this circuit breaker period, for every package purchased on Delegate, SGD1 will go to The Courage Fund by National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Do feel free to spread the word and support this cause!

Another initiative we’ve started involves the wedding industry. This global pandemic we are in has brought a host of challenges to everyone involved in said industry. From brides-to-be to wedding vendors, these are unprecedented times. We want to be part of the solution and that is why we started this Facebook group – Save Wedding Vendors. We aim to build a community of helpful vendors and members. You can post your queries, ask for recommendations and share promotions or reviews as well.

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