She takes leap to be hawker after years in banking sector

Ms Elayne Ang cooking carrot cake at her stall, Tian Kee Carrot Cake and Hokkien Mee, in Marine Parade Central. She had worked for more than 15 years in the banking industry before making the switch to the hawker trade in 2019. Yesterday, she receive
Ms Elayne Ang cooking carrot cake at her stall, Tian Kee Carrot Cake and Hokkien Mee, in Marine Parade Central. She had worked for more than 15 years in the banking industry before making the switch to the hawker trade in 2019. Yesterday, she received a Promising New Hawker Award at the first Singapore Hawkers Awards. ST PHOTO: JOEL CHAN

Ms Elayne Ang had worked for more than 15 years in the banking industry when she decided to take a leap to become a hawker.

The big switch in 2019 saw her opening a stall to sell carrot cake and hokkien mee, and fielding questions from well-meaning friends about forgoing a stable, successful job with a steady income for the uncertainties of the trade.

Ms Ang, 40, who set up the stall with her partner, told The Straits Times yesterday: "When people found out about it, they asked if we were crazy. But we just felt that we could do it and we went ahead."

Less than two years on, she has forged ahead in her new career, and received a Promising New Hawker Award yesterday at the first Singapore Hawkers Awards.

Organised by The Federation of Merchants' Associations, Singapore and Chinese-language daily Lianhe Wanbao, the awards have two other categories - the Hawker Heritage Award and the Enterprising Hawker Award.

A total of 15 hawkers yesterday received awards for their efforts in shaping the country's prized hawker culture, which was added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last month.

The recipients were chosen from more than 110 applications and will each get $500 in cash.

Ms Ang said of her career change: "I had a decent salary. But there was office politics, it was always an ever-running sales number, and we were always in a rat race. I was thinking to myself, 'Do I want to continue this in my 40s and 50s?'"

Ms Ang left her job and later started Tian Kee Carrot Cake and Hokkien Mee with her partner, Mr Samuel Tan, 36, at Block 84 Marine Parade Central in mid-2019.

The work was tough, but the pair pushed on, coming up with their signature crispy black carrot cake, a hot seller, and gaining a pool of regulars who helped keep them afloat amid the pandemic. Other hawkers also supported them.

Ms Ang said: "We got more than just the business. The kind of friendship and community spirit that we got were so strong, and they accepted us like a big family."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2021, with the headline 'She takes leap to be hawker after years in banking sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe