For 2 millennia, the S’pore turned their hustle and bustle into a permanent home bakery


Scroll through Dapiku Sweets‘The brightly colored Instagram feed is a visual feast featuring desserts of unconventional flavor intertwined with unusual graphic illustrations.

Their eclectic treat collection is a fun and playful turnaround in local flavors, with daring couples that make fans hungry yet.

Lee Jian Yun, 34, and his partner Aliff Tee, 32, from their home in Bukit Batok, work full-time making aesthetically pleasing desserts for hungry shoppers in Singapore.

They run their home bakery mostly on Instagram

The man behind the roast is Jian Yun (also known as JY).

He launched Dapiku Sweets in 2017 as a creative place for his baking hobby, but only opened it for sale a year later when the requirements arose.

Dapiku’s resident illustrator, Aliff, deals with background work related to marketing and provides an extra pair of hands in the kitchen.

Dapiku team of sweets
The team behind Dapiku Sweets, Aliff (left) and JY (right) / Image credit: Dapiku Sweets

“When we saw an opportunity in the market, we decided to take it seriously (to work) and our menu has organically evolved to what we offer now,” JY said.

The home bakery started as Tapiku, with a taping tapir with an “impressive back” as a mascot. They soon realized that another company in Taiwan had a similar brand, so Dapiku, Big ass, which in Mandarin means big ass, was born together with the slogan “I will gladly feed you”.

JY and Aliff were fans Shokugeki No Soma, an anime about students struggling with it in culinary school. The protagonist Soma has a sentence they fell in love with, osomatsuor “happy to serve.”

“With every order we have the opportunity to create new memories of food. We are really grateful that we can feed people, ”added JY.

Jumping from banking to food and drink

Although his desserts might suggest otherwise, JY has never attended culinary school.

In fact, like most Singaporeans, he embarked on a conventional path of education and went to lower college and university, where he completed banking and finance. However, he knew all along that the future in banking was not what he really wanted.

He was always obsessed with sweets in all forms and always wanted to work in the kitchen. While in college, he began working in restaurants, though not in the confectionery department.

At the restaurant where he worked, JY had the task of preparing live seafood, but he became so attached to all the sea creatures sent to the restaurants that he started giving them names. Eventually, when the animals had to be killed, he was overcome with guilt.

“When the lobster nightmares that haunted me began, I knew I wasn’t ready for the job. So, the moment the opportunity to jump into pastries opened up in the restaurant, I made a change and I never left, ”JY said.

Christmas presentation of Dapiku Sweets, 2018
Christmas presentation to Dapiku Sweets, 2018. / Image credit: Dapiku Sweets

As he continued to work in restaurants, he realized how much of his life he was missing out on. He had to work instead of being present at family events, celebrations, holidays and his cats.

When the pandemic hit, he found himself in 28-hour shifts despite a pay cut, falling asleep quickly only when his pastries were being baked in the oven.

“I felt like I was stuck in this bubble and I could no longer understand why I was working,” JY said. “I became more and more detached from everything I created at work. That’s when I knew I had to get out of the kitchen. ”

Since Dapiku was already a project he was working on, he naturally shifted his focus to development as a business.

Transferring visual communication skills to desserts

With pastries and European-style treats with intriguing Asian changes, Dapiku Sweets has a refreshing collection that stays true to its brand. They take unconventional flavor combinations and make them work – think of a burnt miso cheesecake with an almond base and brown butter or a lychee chestnut cake.

The belief that desserts should be entertained is reflected in their cheerful and unusual branding.

Aliff is responsible for branding, creativity and related graphic design, and creative advertising is not foreign to him. He worked as a graphic designer, after spending more than eight years in the creative industry.

Cake by Dapiku Sweets / Image by Dapiku Sweets

Aliff has always loved F&B. His family was engaged in food business, from selling our lemkas to running cafes. He also helped with his uncle peanut ice cream shop.

He boarded the Dapik Sweets full-time when he learned that JY was finally selling his candy, and it felt like it was a big opportunity because he really believed in business potential.

Produces Dapiku candy
Dapiku Sweets imitate the unusual style of the brand / Image Credit: Dapiku Sweets

The graduate student of visual communications transferred his skills in design and applied them in a bakery. He designed the cakes together with JY in line with the brand, incorporating Dapiku’s remarkable unusualness into the products.

Creating products that stand out

JY and Aliff try to strike a balance between the known and the unconventional.

They also work closely with customers on customization based on personal preference and serve people with a variety of dietary needs, from vegan to gluten-free cakes. Customers who want something special can also opt for custom illustrations and messages.

The couple loves to be given the full power of creativity according to custom orders, so they can become inventive while pairing flavors. JY’s experience in restaurants has also helped him be bold and experiment with his tastes.

All Dapik sweets are made in a Muslim household.

“Using ingredients that contain only halal is a challenge, but we wanted to be involved for everyone. We also wanted to break the perception that halal is food of a lower standard, ”JY explained.

Over the years, their customer base has expanded to the local Muslim community, despite initial hesitation and confusion over the brand’s Chinese name. The couple emphasizes the importance of creating products that not only taste and look, but are inclusive enough to be enjoyed by everyone.

Their currently popular products are dessert boxes, baked cheesecakes and cookies. JY’s personal favorite is their red bean burger, which contains honey red beans and chen pi pasta, mandarin, kinako dango and fresh shiso squeezed between two almond dakizoza.

JY’s personal favorite / Image Credit: Dapiku Sweets

“Singapore tends to follow trends where there will be high demand for a particular item before it suddenly disappears,” JY noted of how their products change over time.

Their burnt cheesecakes, however, are still popular because they believe the trend has stabilized and found its way to the hearts and bellies of people across the island.

Roll into batter despite Covid-19

What started out just as a creative way out for a couple is now a business that is now gaining more appeal among B2B users.

Companies are increasingly approaching Dapik Sweets to create visually appealing desserts in exciting flavors.

A team of two people handles everything on their own – from conceptualization, baking and marketing, to receiving orders and paying. The only aspect left to outside companies is delivery because neither can drive.

As a housekeeper, they initially faced difficulties. For example, opening an account with a supplier was difficult due to problems with settling minimum quantities of orders.

“Starting from the ground up to juggling our full-time jobs has been very challenging. We spent many sleepless nights baking and showing up for work the next day, ”JY recalled.

When they first started, they were not involved in marketing, and they grew organically through word of mouth and their presence at flea markets and events.

Aliff (left) and JY (right) at the pastry sale 2018 / Image credit: Dapiku Sweets

Their business soon grew by 40 percent when significant influences on Instagram helped introduce their products. Because they rely heavily on social media marketing, the couple is constantly informed about the constant changes in their algorithm on Instagram.

When dining restrictions were announced, they saw a huge jump in orders as people began sending service packages to their friends and family. Media attention on the #circuitbakers baking trend has also put local bakeries like Dapiku sweets in the spotlight.

JY and Aliff are also very open to working with other small local businesses. The most important thing is that they cooperated with them Macbibik to create salty-sweet cookies using theirs serunding, Malay spicy coconut spice.

Macbibik x Dapiku Sweets
Macbibik x Dapiku sweets / Image credit: Dapiku sweets

These days, however, they face bigger storage problems as their business becomes more and more popular, so JY and Aliff had to reorganize their home to make room for new supplies and packaging.

“Maintaining consistent business growth is also a challenge because of the budget, changing landscapes and our labor constraints,” JY said.

For now, Dapiku Sweets is working to expand its business to open a physical retail space, where they can increase their production capacity.

They also hope to hire new talent and provide a safe and inclusive workspace for people who want to step into the food and beverage industry.

Highlight Credit: Dapiku Sweets

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