Smittada Hongsakul

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  • “I used to work as a graphic designer for an advertising agency. About 3 years ago we had a retro-themed company party so I wore a big, puffy skirt. When we got to the restaurant, there were glass-encased candles on the walls but the flames were out. I was not careful enough and my skirt caught fire. Everything happened so quickly. I ran to the restroom to get water but it was too late. I got 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 40% of my body and was in the hospital for 6 months. The hardest part for me actually came when I was discharged because at the hospital I was entirely focused on getting out but when I finally went back home, reality hit me. I couldn’t do what I used to do before. I used to swim and go out a lot but after the accident I was not allowed to swim or to be in the sun and had to wear a pressure garment all the time. So I spent a lot of time at home and got depressed. When I was in the hospital, I watched a lot of youtube videos on how to make cupcakes to kill time. I realized that there are many different kinds of art, not just the one I was used to. Back at home, I bought some baking supplies and started experimenting and little by little by decorating cookies I started to forget about the pain and the sadness.”
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“I have a friend that owns a flour factory and when I told her that I might be interested in learning how to bake, she sent me different kinds of flours for me to experiment. I learned how to decorate from Youtube and the Pinterest blogs by cookie artists. Friends saw my pictures on Instagram and asked if they could order from me. Once I started getting orders from strangers, I realized this could become a real business and I needed to take it seriously. I like making cookies because they are my canvas. I ask people what they want and I create it. It’s like storytelling on a plate.”
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  • “I take as many orders as I can. I always try to push myself. Sometimes I get large orders for companies and I might have to bake the whole day. And for some shapes you don’t have cookie cutters so I have to shape it myself by hand, which is quite time consuming. I learned how to decorate layer by layer. It takes about 2-3 hours for a color to dry otherwise it bleeds. But if I don’t have to wait for colors to dry, then it can go quite fast.”
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“I have been making cookies for 2 years. I get orders from individuals, companies, and from wedding planners that want me to design a dessert corner. I am planning to expand and move into catering services next year. My next step is developing a set menu with additional products. Right now I make sugar cookies, cupcakes, and Kayaaa!, a pandan coconut jam that was my grandmother’s recipe. I will also need to hire more staff but I will probably stay quite small, at least at the beginning. Maybe hire 3-4 people and cater for 3-4 events a week.”
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“Training staff is very challenging. I have tried to get more staff but they wouldn’t do well. Most just wanted to get things done fast and didn’t really care much. But to make this well, you really need to care about each and every cookie and pay close attention to everything you do. That’s the most important thing, skills can be learned.”
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  • “I feel much more accomplished than before, I am very proud of having something of my own. Each cookie helped me get through my depression. I am very happy and I feel I pass this on to my clients. And I am making more money than in my previous job, which I was not expecting. Now I can set my own schedule so I try to spend more time with the people I love. I try to have breakfast with my family every morning.”

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