Legal volunteer now shares in the joy of happy occasions, thanks to her cakery
Few have the gumption to pursue a dream — and make it work — as often as Grace Goh. Three years after starting Thai Express with husband Ivan Lee, Goh walked away from the restaurant business to pursue a second degree in law. But with the happy arrival of their first child upending plans to sit for the Bar, she instead threw herself into pro bono work, volunteering at legal clinics run by the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers and at the Family Justice Courts where she was involved in family mediations.
“The fact that I got to help people in a traumatic period of their lives and help sort out their problems was a nice feeling,” says the now mother of two daughters. “But it was sad to see the problems they face.” By 2014, Goh was ready for something new. With her taste for entrepreneurship, the daughter of prominent businessman Tommie Goh co-founded bakery-bistro Little House of Dreams with business partner Audrey Lee. It was a decision fuelled by her love of sweet treats. “If I have a bad meal, I must have a good dessert to make up for it,” she quips. “If I don’t have the time [for dessert], it feels incomplete and I’ll be very sad. I need the dessert.”
With the nature of the business about helping clients mark special occasions with bespoke cakes and dessert tables, motivation and personal fulfilment is in ample supply, she adds.
With Little House of Dreams did you have to change your lifestyle in any way?
My time in a day is finite so I had to cut back on sleep. When the kids go to bed, I use that time to clear emails and attend to things. I also cut back on running. I used to train for marathons. Last year, I signed up for the San Francisco marathon but there were lots of things going on in the business so I didn’t go for that. Last year, I went for [a marathon in] Sydney but I didn’t train as much.
Where do you see your passion taking you in the next five years?
My dream is to become a leader in customised cakes, so when people think about customised fondant cakes, they will think of our brand. For us, we’re a professional bakery and we pride ourselves in being able to achieve the little details that show we are professionals doing the work.
Would you recommend this entrepreneurial path to others?
If you have something you really like and are able to have the chance to explore it, go for it. The only reason why I’m so willing and able to allow myself to be consumed by this is because I like it. If someone gave me a business that I wasn’t as excited about, it would be much harder to think about it all the time.