Most of our favourite shops and restaurants have reopened after the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) announcement. But sadly, not all of them have made it. Wondermilk, a cafe known for its scrumptious baked goods, is one of them. The owners had to make the difficult decision to close two out of four outlets. They also had to put a halt to Pasar Seloka, a popular market showcasing local entrepreneurs’ artisanal products.
makchic recently caught up with Ena Hadzir and Dzurina Dzulkhaini, 2/7 of the wonderful Wondermilk team and chatted about life during this pandemic and what it takes to pad your income during tough times.
1. Shift the mindset
In addition to Wondermilk and Pasar Seloka, Ena and Dzu are also founders of Little Rimba, a cosy eatery in Taman Tun; and Alam dan Manusia, a clothing brand. Like most other businesses, Covid-19 hit them hard. Even though things were tumultuous initially, and they grieved over the loss of income, they did not wallow in their predicament for long. They shifted their mindset and confronted the challenges head-on. Ena and Dzu also took this time to reconnect with their loved ones, reflect on their priorities and rethink business strategies.
2. When one door closes, another opens
One thing is for sure, Ena and Dzu know how to spot opportunities. During the Movement Control Order (MCO), they started selling frozen meals under the Little Rimba brand. This included Raya delicacies like rendang and ketupat which were a hit during Hari Raya Puasa. They have also refocused the selling of their cakes, cupcakes and cookies online and partnering with individual agents. Because of the agents, they have managed to expand their market to Penang and Malacca.
The MCO also had Ena accidentally creating a cast iron cookware craze from the sharing of her cast iron obsession on social media. Not long after, she started getting multiple order inquiries. “I realised my strength is home and living and my Instagram viewers love that! So I decided to use the opportunity to focus on this niche.”
Dzu also unintentionally started a craze of her own. With people having more time to declutter and redecorate their homes during the MCO, her Instagram followers quickly noticed the storage boxes made of repurposed zinc she had in her home. The boxes sold out not long after she started selling them.
3. Know your motivation
When looking for opportunities, Ena believes that you need to be in love with what you are doing in order to get others excited. “I need to be 100 per cent sure that I am passionate about the product, or the business that I’m going into. Passion is what drives me to move forward.”
For Dzu, it is essential to know your “why”. By having an understanding of why you want to get into a particular business, it helps to generate motivation and keeps you focused on accomplishing your goal. Dzu also conducts due diligence on any products she markets to ensure it is worth the time and effort she invests in.
4. No rest for the wicked
As a mother, you are continually making decisions and looking out for your family; as a business owner, you do the same for your company. If you are both, it can be mentally and physically draining. For Ena, knowing that there are people relying on her is her motivation to keep going. Although she struggles to find time for herself, she acknowledges that it is important to carve some ‘me time’ in her daily schedule so she doesn’t suffer from burn-out.
Dzu plans her time so she only goes out for meetings a maximum of twice a week. However, her days at home are also filled with meetings, albeit on Zoom. With young children in tow, it can be quite challenging to manage as they require a lot of her attention. She reminds her children, “Susah-susah dahulu, senang-senang kemudian. They might not understand this fully right now, but InsyaAllah one day they will.”
5. Call on your village
When things get overwhelming, Dzu believes that you shouldn’t shy away from asking for help. She reaches out to her parents to help watch the kids when she needs it. “It’s a win-win situation as I have time to do my things and the kids have time to bond with their grandparents.”
Ena has older kids, and she relies on them to take care of their youngest sibling who is six. They divide chores in the house and help Ena in managing the household. Although she tries to cook at home as often as she can, she does rely on food delivery services to keep the family fed.
Both Ena and Dzu are grateful to have their husbands by their side. According to Dzu, “having the support of my husband has been a big contributor to my success in business.”
6. Leverage on technology
Dzu uses her social media to communicate with her customers and engages with them through sharing sessions on Instagram stories. “Make the most out of this medium. You have 15 seconds to advertise your product for free!”
Ena also depends on her social media to market her products. “I won’t be able to do what I’m doing right now if it’s not for social media. I am thankful that I am able to monetise it successfully.”
7. Learn from mistakes and aim for success
There is no secret ingredient to starting a business. Dzu believes that anyone can get into it. “It is something you can learn along the way. Get out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. But make sure you grow from it, then you will gain. And always aim for success!”
Ena’s business style, on the other hand, is to go with the flow as she finds it less stressful that way. “It is important to set goals, but make sure it is realistic. If aiming high does not work for you, take baby steps instead.”
By Liyana Taff