INSPIRASEE OF THE MONTH:

AUGUST

business INSPIRASEE

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19B0141

ili arina binti zainal

2021 IOTM - Lola's Podcast
00:00 / 16:31

LOLA

Ili Arina binti Zainal, also known as Lola, is a 21-year-old, third year Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences student majoring in English Studies. Lola is the woman behind Munchforbrunch (MFB), an online bakery that is currently operating four days a week.

Lola’s journey was inspired by her aunt who owns a business in which Lola had experience working there before launching MFB. Her aunt has taught her how to bake, in which Lola implemented her aunt’s recipes into her business, as well as her own recipes. Baking is one of Lola’s passions that she would find herself doing in her free time.

 

Before MFB was established, she would sell her baked goods at school and eventually applied it onto a professional platform where it could reach a wider target audience. MFB was established on 4th December 2018, which was right after her ‘A’ Levels as she wanted to be productive during the holidays. Before MFB was an online business, Lola would sell her baked goods at a cube store in Seria. However, not many knew that she was selling her baked goods there, which took a toll as the cube rent was pricey. Due to that reason, she decided to do her business independently by selling on Instagram, as it is a popular platform for businesses. Lola launched MFB to provide herself with financial stability as she wanted to be independent and not rely solely on allowances.

Having persistence helped her throughout this journey, as most people would start a business and stop upon encountering hardship. Being persistent means that despite there being a rough patch in the journey, it is not a sign to give up, it means that you need to find a

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solution and overcome it. As a Muslim, if Allah puts you in that situation, it means that He believes you are capable of going through that situation. Whenever Lola starts a new project, she fears that she would fail as you are unable to foresee how great it is going to be, or what other downfalls it may cost.

Due to Lola looking well-put on the outside, people would say that she’s confident and it seems like she does not have anything crashing down, her response would be that she’s good at hiding something. However, people would be surprised to know that she used to have anxiety and she had to go to therapy and have pills prescribed to her. Even though that is a stigmatized topic, people fail to comprehend how that experience made her into a better person, it is how she understood why she is here. Going through that experience showed her a different side to herself; she unlocked a part of herself. Despite people stigmatizing that idea, she does not want people to label herself. There is a proverb, “what you decide today and what choices you make or what you decide to do now, is what’s going to make up the future”.

 

She has three support systems, all being women. She has her mother, adoptive mother and grandmother. These three showed her how to be an independent woman. Both her mother and grandmother are divorcees, hence her father and grandfather were not much into her life. These three women showed her that even if you come from a dysfunctional family or a nuclear family (a couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit), it does not mean that your life will be predicted in a certain way because you can change that. Every time when there is a celebration or a success, her mother would tell her that that is all on her, that is the result of her efforts. Having that support system makes her stronger and more emotionally stable.

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Lola’s journey was inspired by her aunt who owns a business in which Lola had experience working there before launching MFB. Her aunt has taught her how to bake, in which Lola implemented her aunt’s recipes into her business, as well as her own recipes. Baking is one of Lola’s passions that she would find herself doing in her free time.

 

Before MFB was established, she would sell her baked goods at school and eventually applied it onto a professional platform where it could reach a wider target audience. MFB was established on 4th December 2018, which was right after her ‘A’ Levels as she wanted to be productive during the holidays. Before MFB was an online business, Lola would sell her baked goods at a cube store in Seria. However, not many knew that she was selling her baked goods there, which took a toll as the cube rent was pricey. Due to that reason, she decided to do her business independently by selling on Instagram, as it is a popular platform for businesses. Lola launched MFB to provide herself with financial stability as she wanted to be independent and not rely solely on allowances.

Having persistence helped her throughout this journey, as most people would start a business and stop upon encountering hardship. Being persistent means that despite there

being a rough patch in the journey, it is not a sign to give up, it means that you need to find a solution and overcome it. As a Muslim, if Allah puts you in that situation, it means that He believes you are capable of going through that situation. Whenever Lola starts a new project, she fears that she would fail as you are unable to foresee how great it is going to be, or what other downfalls it may cost.

 

Due to Lola looking well-put on the outside, people would say that she’s confident and it seems like she does not have anything crashing down, her response would be that she’s good at hiding something. However, people would be surprised to know that she used to have anxiety and she had to go to therapy and have pills prescribed to her. Even though that is a stigmatized topic, people fail to comprehend how that experience made her into a better person, it is how she understood why she is here. Going through that experience showed her a different side to herself; she unlocked a part of herself. Despite people stigmatizing that idea, she does not want people to label herself.

 

There is a proverb,

 

“What you decide today and what choices you make or what you decide to do now, is what’s going to make up the future”

 

She has three support systems, all being women. She has her mother, adoptive mother and grandmother. These three showed her how to be an independent woman. Both her mother and grandmother are divorcees, hence her father and grandfather were not much into her life. These three women showed her that even if you come from a dysfunctional family or a nuclear family (a couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit), it does not mean that your life will be predicted in a certain way because you can change that. Every time when there is a celebration or a success, her mother would tell her that that is all on her, that is the result of her efforts. Having that support system makes her stronger and more emotionally stable.

 

The biggest challenge being in the baking industry would be the competition for her as everyone is up-to-date with the latest trends, where Korean cakes or minimalist cakes are a popular demand by customers. Lola started her business with fondant cakes, doing the extravagant cakes until the orders shifted to minimalist or bento cakes. She is not one to make minimal designs on her cakes, she aims to make different cake designs that will shock the customers. One of her biggest moments is when she made a Caladium Leaf cake, which did not look like a cake at all. After posting the photo on MFB’s Instagram, she started seeing other bakers bake that type of cake, a trend that she has started. In relation with the challenges mentioned before, she keeps track when new businesses come up on Instagram especially on the sponsored posts. She would note down how many competitions she has in each area in the Belait District, where applicable. She would see what the others sell, and try to make herself and her business different from her competition. With that, customers can see how MFB has something different to offer, which in her case would be fondant cupcakes.

 

One of the experiences about working is the difference in age group. Some would be older, and they would normally deem themselves as more experienced. For the younger colleagues, they would come up with new ideas or trends and they would want you to follow it (to stay on trend). However, that is not always the case as it is best to combine all the ideas and make it a better one. She believes that everyone should give their input and make it as everyone’s idea in total.

 

An obstacle she encountered when having to work with a certain team, is that not everyone goes through the same experience that you are going through. The difficulty is that everyone has to be understanding and be able to sympathize where you are coming from. The last time she had a difficult working relationship with a colleague was mainly due to miscommunication. When working in a team, communication is one of the main elements for a smooth working relationship. It is best to understand that your colleague is not only your workmate, but they can also be your friend, hence having a sit down and discussing the problem can help overcome these problems.

 

A funny experience she had recently was when she baked a half cake, which was lighter than a whole cake, and she had to deliver it from Lumut to KB Town. Five minutes before she arrived at her destination, at the roundabout with the big kettle, she heard the box move. When she opened the box, her heart dropped as her cake was ruined. She had to come forward to the customer and inform them of the situation, and she offered to deliver a brand-new cake two hours later, in which the customer is fine with as their party does not start in two hours, hence she will be on time. Afterwards, she went to Soon Lee Pandan to gather all her ingredients and seeing as she had family who lived nearby, she went to their house to bake the cake and delivered it on time. Moral of the story is to not give up despite having a breakdown.

 

A moment of failure she has experienced was when she burnt a cake. She has never burnt a cake until that one and it happened due to her multitasking. Being in the baking world means that you have to be good at multitasking; you need to have cakes in the oven, you need to make the icing and the fondant figures. Having forgotten to set the timer on when to check on the cake was her mistake. She had to bake a new cake and push the time for pickup. Lola felt very lucky to not have fussy customers. However, she would prefer to not go through any hardships and make sure that everything is well-planned. Another moment is when she had to deliver to a customer who did not pay. From that experience, she made sure that the customer pays first through online banking before delivering to avoid the same mistake.

  

Lola is currently working as a science facilitator in Seria Energy Lab (SEL) three days a week. Hence, the four days a week MFB working operation. One of Lola’s strengths other than being persistent is her time management skills, which helps to balance her studies and her careers, as well as her personal life.

 

In the future, Lola hopes to be a teacher or a speech therapist. As for her baking career, she hopes to open a nice café with good Wi-Fi. Seeing as she is a student herself and living in Lumut, there are not many cafés in that area and she hopes that her café would be a nice hotspot for students who need to do their online studies.

 

As this month’s Business Inspirasee, she would like to convey to the readers that even if it is scary to start a business, it is more about the process and progress that you are going through. It is about learning throughout the way. It is not about being perfect beforehand, having to plan everything and staying organized. You actually learn more throughout your journey. It is not about having a good plan and executing it, it is more about taking the first step. Throughout your journey, you would unlock more characteristics of yourself and more good qualities. Do not be afraid to take the first step.

 

For those who are struggling with progress, always remember that hardships will always come. Even though you encounter it constantly, what matters is how you tackle it. Always try to find the solution and do not give up so easily because you have no idea how successful you can be.

 

Those who are interested in contacting her in regards to her business, you may contact her through Instagram, @munchforbrunch.