Updated: Feb 8, 2021
You read an abridged version of our story in "About US" section , now we going to tell you our story. This is me pretending to build fire in traditional Bidayuh's kitchen (obuh) in a "Baruk" in Sarawak Cultural Village . Picture is taken by Anderson Kalang from http://www.andersonkalang.com/about/
How the story begin.
I am born from Bidayuh - Jagoi family from a village in Lundu, Kuching called Selampit. Dad was a soldier who travelled around and mum is always an entrepreneur ; selling tuak, selling nasi lemak, kuih's and various foods , driving vans, opening grocery shops (kedai runcit). She do all that in order to help dad to support our large family of 10. These is where we learn entrepreneurship right in front of our own eyes. God willing our lives is happy, we are not rich however financial issue is not one of our worries, despite dad having a modest salary . With that financial foundation built from own sweat and tear, my parents raise us up quite well. They sent me to private nursing school where I'm trained as a nurse, and then I further my study as an Operating Theater nurse. My other siblings do quite well too, we have another Businessman, a Safety Officer, a Radiographer, a Master's holder, an Able Seaman(aspiring to be Captain) and there will be soon to be IT expert.
Mum is always busy, in the morning time she's sending children by "menambang" (while bringing her own too) by driving van to Lundu. After which she will go back doing some housechores before handling her grocery shop. Sometime she will do side gigs such as making tuak, nasi lemak, and if theres still some energy left she will cook karipap, kuih jala, penyaram for teatime. Sometime we go around kampung to help her sell those. We were young, happy and energetic. Imagine kids going around kampung shouting "nasi lemak, nasi lemak". It was golden years.
Some history about mum; she was also a maid in Singapore briefly before. Her employer was kind enough to send her to proper chinese food academy where she was trained properly to cook chinese food. This enhance her already good skill in cooking. Which she pass down to us, even the boys.
Well oh well she did pass down her skill to us. There's a lot of us so her cooking alone at home will be very very tiring. We learn how to cook at tender age of 9 maybe; as early as possible as long as we understand that "knife are sharp=be careful". Imagine a female Gordon Ramsey; thats how mum is. She will scream when we do little mistake, eg: salt is half teaspoon more, one step of 23 is forgotten etc. And my oh my she care about cleanliness, A LOT. But looking back we are gladful of that. That is where we learn how to be the cook that we are now.
That was some background, now how did our aspiration become "Sharon Sarawak Special". Nursing was a challenging job, and as an Operation Theater Nurse i grew to love it. There is always new things to learn and theres a sense of accomplishment doing this job. However I realised I have a talent in cooking, and maybe deep inside i love to cook, (sounded like its self praising but theres always praises everytime I cook random things like curry, western, rendang etc, so maybe because I put love into it) and I always want to be an entrepreneur like mum is. I make a goal years ago, that after I pay back (and gain a bit more of) the money spent on training as a nurse: I will be in food business. I was working locally for a few years then I was fortunate to be given opportunity to work in Saudi Arabia for 3 years, then in Oman for another 3 years. Well that's 10 years. I think its enough to justify ROI for nurse training and I think I have given enough to community back. Now its time to chase my dream.
We started off as a laksa sarawak stall in Puchong, so "us" here is three person, Emily just finished her Master in Business and were looking for work, why not be in a business right? Sara just finished SPM and were waiting for semester to start, she has been great help too. We have never experienced in food business so let start off small. We want to learn systematic way of doing food business, the procedures, handling customer, handling bad orders, handling supply hassle, business drama etc = that is something Oxford never teach. Lets not risk live saving on something large capital like opening a shop. Furthermore its Covid-19 Pandemic time where planning for large capital business is difficult. It was quite an experience. Sometime we have too large order that things were chaotic, sometime there's miscellaneous issue like prawn supply low etc. But so far god willing we can handle it. I think the fruit of our effort is the smile on customer face, the clean bowl by drinking every last drop of our laksa gravy, and sometime when the customer is not shy they would go to us to praise us. Maybe those who is long in the food business understand this. The reward of being in the food business is customer satisfaction, monetary reward is side effect of customer satisfaction.
That was August, well 2020 is not a strategic year to open up shop, thank god we didnt invest too much in the business. On October 2020, Malaysia government implement cross district restriction. We live in Kajang and travelling to Puchong is a no no. Well of course we could apply for "essential service" cross district pass but we decided for public health concern and our own health concern, we have to close that store for now. Sadly we are right, few months towards 2021 Covid-19 cases spike up : the safest place to be is at home; minimize contact outside. We want to encourage customer to make purchase online, thus our decision to setup a website, make it as user friendly as we can. Customer could even order by cash via Bungkusit! , sometime we teach customer via whatsapp on how to make purchase online. Perhaps at first it is just to order food to us, but maybe it is a starting point to be comfortable buying things online.
So thats how we evolve into online only business (so called "cloud kitchen"). Everybody is working from home right? That is the safest way to be in "bubble" while in a pandemic . No contact with others, but we still can feel the smile on customer face through reviews . We started off doing food delivery via foodpanda and gain a lot of traction there with orders exceeding when we have a physical stall. We have since expanded our option by building our own website and also collaborating with Maybank in Sama Sama Lokal. So now instead of delivering to Kajang only, we have expanded our reach to whole Klang Valley. (Our portal could reach at most 35km coverage, so Cheras, Pudu, Sungai Besi, Bukit Bintang and most part of KL City Centre is covered. Above that range we could do manual order).
We expanded our menu now including Sarawak Kolo Mee, now that was quite a challenge : kolo mee noodle need to be imported here and we are glad we could find reliable supplier, we also want our Kolo Mee to be as genuine as possible so we come up with at least a dozen iteration. It has to pass our own stringent test before we decided to put it in our menu. We also add in our menu Sarawak Kek Lapis hand made by our friend Christie , test out her kek lapis which is another product made by Sarawakian. So thats our story for now. Whats next ? Opening real proper shop, maybe a HQ? Let see. Stay tuned.
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