Women of the Industry: Tannie Tang, Founder of Second Helpings
Have you ever wondered what goes into the peanut butter you put in your PBJ sandwich? Tannie has. In fact, much of her life revolves around this innocuous goober. As the founder of Second Helpings, a local company that produces peanut butter without any preservatives or processed ingredients, she advocates for consumers to be more aware of what they’re eating.
Her relationship with this spread started with her husband, who was consuming a large amount for body building. Unimpressed by store-bought brands, she came up with her own recipe she calls beenut butter (‘bee’ stands for honey she uses in place of sugar). As more friends started asking for it, she decided to leave her corporate job to do this full-time with her husband. Now four years later, she runs the business on her own and has Second Helpings retailing at places like Providore and Robinsons.
If you’re asking why peanut butter of all things, you’re not alone. “When we first started, many people wondered if anybody will buy it,” she shares. Groundnuts were chosen for being the most agreeable legume for most adults and children. Even after the tidal wave of trendy alternative nut butters, peanuts still remain a staple beloved by all. They also make great bases for flavour experimentation, something Tannie excels at. Tak-Kiu Beenut Butter made from Milo and Fearless Beenut Butter made from chilli are two most recent concoctions she’s come up with.
Mixing up wacky flavours created to trigger flashes of nostalgia or a tingling heat at the back of your tongue is considered the easy part. What’s tough is keeping the business afloat and fresh. In 2015, Tannie opened a storefront called Hive that closed down a year later and resurfaced as an e-store called Hive Market. There, she sells beenut butters in different sized jars as well as cookies and beeswax-lined organic cotton wraps. Occasionally, big orders come through from expat and local families living abroad. For now, most of her income streams in via retail and stockists; she has also stopped participating in markets to take more time for herself.
Part of the challenge is changing the perception consumers have of locally produced goods: “Customers tell me they can’t taste the difference [between mine and store-bought brands] or that they can make it at home. They have to understand that items are more expensive due to production costs.” But if there’s one thing Tannie’s learnt from starting at the bottom, it’s that she loves the freedom of creative expression. So even though altering mindsets seems an almost monumental task for a one-woman show, you can be assured she’s not throwing in the towel yet.