A Female Bakery’s Owner: Success is when I am able to create jobs for others

Ratha Tann is a shareholder of the Cakolate Bakery and Icecream, located in Phnom Penh. She was born in Kampong Thum province and moved to Phnom Penh to pursue a bachelor degree in accountant. Ratha worked in the field of the accountant for about 7 years, that gave her enough saving to invest in the start-up, before quitting to manage her bakery and icecream shop. She used to work in a restaurant to support her study, while she received about $12.5 a month from her parents to spend in Phnom Penh during her undergrad study. 

Ratha Tann sitting in front of her shop (Photo provided by Ratha Tan)
Ratha Tan was interviewing by Sotheary You, a Founder of Next Women Generation

Q: Hello Ratha!

Ratha: Hello!

Q: Do you have many costumers today?

Ratha: Good enough for today because we have online orders.

Q: What is your shop’s name again?

Ratha: Cakolate Bakery and Icecream.

Q: How long have you ran the shop?

Ratha: It began in August 2017. We started from online with bakery items such as cookie, macaron, and chocolate. We have a free delivery service. We didn’t have a shop at that time because that was a start-up and we don’t have enough capital to invest in the shop. Around March 2018, we wanted to have a shop. It could be a small shop that our customers could walk into takeaway their orders. My house was too far from Phnom Penh center, so we rent my friend’s front yard to have a small bakery stand. It was near Sonthor Mok high school. We opened there until July 2018, then we have seen an increase in demand. We started to think that we would like to have a bigger shop that can accommodate more people in the shop. Then, we moved from an open space shop at Sonthor Mok to the independent monument area.

Ratha Tann standing in front of her shop (Photo provided by Ratha Tan)

Q: Why do you start your bakery shop?

Ratha: I worked at a private school in Phnom Penh about seven years. I met my co-founder. She told me that her husband could make a good cake, and she needs someone who has great communication and marketing skills. She proposed that she wanted to bake the cake at home and sell it online with free delivery. She asked me that “am I interested in joining her?”

I told her that I am interested in that business model, but I need to learn more about the budget because we need to invest in equipment. I asked her “how much would we need to spend?” She told me that we would need to invest in bakery machinery, and some ingredients. Then, we can buy in other equipment later. I told her that “I join her” because I trust her husband’s cook. I sued to eat his cake. That was so delicious. I thought that was a potential to start up bakery business.

Q: It sounds like a successful business. Have you faced any challenges since your start-up?

Ratha: That was so challenging. It took time to do the thing. For instance, it took us about four months to set up an online bakery shop, to name our shop that would represent our products, and to study the costs of the products and the price of the products in the market because we were a late arrival to the market.  There are many foreign bakery brands in Cambodia. We were just a local brand and an online shop. We concerned about the market. I went out to survey on the price and quality of products. It consumed a lot of times to decide on the price of the products.

Moreover, I am a co-founder and shareholder of the shop. That was so difficult for me when we need greater investment because we have only two shareholders. I use my saving to invest in this shop little by little.

I was so depressed when no one bought our products. Sometimes I wanted to give up. Some days, we could get only about 10000 riels or $2.5 a day when we had an opened-space shop at Sontor Mok. I was so depressed, but I kept telling myself that “I started the business online. Now I had a shop. It was my success.” I said to myself that I started online, now I had an opened-space. Next, I will have a shop. I will be able to stand in the market when people in Phnom Penh and other provinces know my products. 

Q: How about your parents? You got a good amount of salary when you worked. Then, you quitted to run a shop, and some days you got about 10000 Riels. Are they happy?

Ratha: I still worked at that time. When my business had a slow moment, I always worked. At that time, my business couldn’t give me the profits that I could support myself. So, I worked and ran a business. I quitted the job when we decided to move to a new place behind Wat Butom. We moved here in August 2018, and I worked for an international consulting firm as a personal assistant to the regional tax partner. I got better pay than the previous workplace. I satisfied with everything there. After I worked there for about two months, my business was getting better. We had more costumer that needed me to focus more on the business.

IT is a family business. We don’t hire people. We needed to enter the market to introduce our products. When people know our products, we can generate jobs for others. We need to be stable before creating jobs for others. And, we can’t effort to hire the people too. So, I talked to my partner that our shop needs a more human resource to operate it. I offered her that I will quit the job to run the shop. I won’t get the salary until the shop can generate profit. So, I left the job. I am running the shop now. I hope I will be able to create more jobs for others in the future. I thought that, when I worked for others, I could help only myself. I couldn’t help people around me. If I have my own business, I believe I can help others. The first step is I can help my relatives who need income to support their family.

I was born in the province. So, when we talk about a resource, I am not a rich kid. My family was a middle-class family. So, what I can do is to help myself to be strong. Then, I can help others.

Q: Have you regretted after quitting a job?

Ratha: No, not at all. I was so depressed when I met people who know me. They asked me “where do you work now?” I told them that I am managing a coffee shop now. They asked, “why did I quit a well-paid job and good position to sell coffee?” I was so depressed to hear that. I am wondering why they don’t value a coffee seller. It is a job. They might think that a successful person should be the one who works in an office of the international firm. But I have a different perspective. They might see me as a failure today because I left the well-paid job and I am running an unstable shop.  But I can be successful in the next one or two or five years. For me, success is when I am able to create jobs for others. I don’t take their words seriously. I do what I love and help others through creating jobs and give other chances to learn and realize what they want to do in their life.

Q: I am wondering why you decided to quit a good job? What motivated you to do that? What do you want in life?

Ratha: As I mentioned earlier, working with the firm, I could help only myself. I won’t have anything after retirement. The company will employ new employees if I am not able to work for them. And, they won’t hire my relatives anyways. But having a business would help my relatives and others at the same time. I felt insecure when I worked for others. I didn’t know when I would lose my job. I feel more secured when I have a business. When I’m not able to manage the shop, my relatives will take over.

Q: You told me that you were born and raised in the province. You mentioned that you worked very hard to get what you have today. Could you please share the challenges that you experienced?

Ratha: My parents sold grocery in the market. They didn’t have time to take care of us. They told us that you have to study hard because I don’t have anything to give you. I have four siblings. I am the second one. My older sister and I were at the same grade. We walked to school about 3 or 4 km. I wanted to get in private tuition. But I didn’t have money. I stood near the window to watch those classes.

I couldn’t afford the English tuition fee. My aunt helped me to pay that. I studied hard to get the top score so that I could get free tuition fee. I asked my mom to study in Phnom Penh to help them back. They agreed. We didn’t have money. They asked my uncle to let me stay at their home. My mom gave me $12.5 a month when I studied in Phnom Penh. I studied hard. I started working when I was in junior year. I worked from 8 am to 4 pm. I got $80 per month. I stopped getting money from mom. I sent back some money to my parents. I worked there for about more than a year. I quitted the job when I was in my senior year. I needed to study hard. I got a job right after graduation. I committed to work hard and to be successful. If I decided to quit a job, I should be able to sustain myself.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for other young girls?

Ratha: When you like something, and you know that you are potential, do it. You can start from the small thing and make it bigger little by little. It takes time. But if you exactly know what you are doing, it won’t take you long to make it. You have to trust yourself, explore your strength, have to be brave. Take the words of others to consider but do not allow them to influence you. Success means a person is able to do what he/she loves and satisfies with the result.

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