2022 IOTM YUSMA'S interview VIDEO
Written by: Nurul Irma Naziratul Shafiqah Binti Amri (20B0031)
Interviewer: Muhammad A’zam Syukri bin Ilham (21B8027)
At age 22, Yusma Batrisyia Binti Haji Saini, majoring in entrepreneurship under the School of Business and Economics, also known as ItsYusmaSaini runs a successful business that sells baked goods such as brownies, cookies and sometimes pasta. Yusma has said that her business specialises in brownies which range in sizes from small to large.
Ever since then, she has been baking several baked good, mostly brownies as she was constantly trying to perfect her craft. When she started baking them, she would usually ask feedback from her customers which became a motivation for her to make her brownies perfect.
Initially, ItsYusmaSaini did not start selling brownies. She made the Instagram page in August 2021 to document her coffee journey That was the initial plan for the page itself, to document her coffee journey. The name of her business 'ItsYusmaSaini' is derived from her name Yusma Saini. She said she struggled to come up with a unique name for her business and at first, she did not want it to be 'ItsYusmaSaini' but since she kept on opening and receiving orders from her coffee page, she decided to just turn it into a platform to sell her brownies.
At first, Yusma did not have any aspirations to start a business because she had been busy working and never even thought about starting a business. Her inspirations to eventually do so came from Tampd, the coffee shop she worked in; Yusma saw her friend working hard to start the business and was given an opportunity to sell baked goods at the coffee shop. So, she took the opportunity and it turned into what has become her brownie business now.
At the start of her business, Yusma did not really have a mission and just wanted to serve good brownies and wanted to experience what it feels like opening a business. However, she stated that it has been a year and it has been a rollercoaster, but she would love to make this business into a full-time job and found the experience rewarding.
Her greatest strength, according to Yusma herself, is the fact that she has a great understanding of her customers in terms of what they want and what they need. But at the same time, she said her weakness is time management. Yusma claims how she has trouble managing her time because she has to worry about academics, her part time jobs and also her bakes on the side. There are times when it will be very hectic, and she will forget orders, but she overcomes this by knowing her priorities and only opens orders on certain days.
One of challenges Yusma faced in making these brownies is the increase of price in the ingredients, especially over the COVID-19 period. Recently, Yusma found out that the price of butter had a $5 increase after not buying supplies for ten days. To her, it was hard because she had to increase the price of her brownies and when she does that, she has a feeling that no one would buy her brownies because it was more expensive. Furthermore, when Yusma just started making brownies, she obviously made a huge loss because she was experimenting with her bakes. Yusma claims that the research and development stage of a business cost a lot of time and money.
Apart from running her business, she participates in spinning classes and spends time with friends over the weekend. Though, she finds her time quite limited due to baking; she admits that she does not have time to do other hobbies.
During hard times, Yusma considers her family and friends as her support system. Her family aids her in quality check for her products and give her feedback, especially when she first started. She also stated that her partner, Haziq, also helps her in running the business by tending to customers when she is busy, designing posters, or sometimes in deliveries. Aside from that, her friends support her by coming to pop-up events and promoting Yusma’s business to other people.
Yusma’s future goal is to open a cafe to serve her baked goods and food with good coffee, especially with her background as a barista as well as her appreciation towards coffee. She aspires to pursue baking by taking baking classes which hopefully will add up to her goals.
A piece of advice from Yusma to people who have just started out their business and are struggling at the moment:
“If you are struggling with your business, you know it is doing well because every business needs to struggle… when you’re doing business it’s not always going to be profit, from the start there will always be loss… Be aware of your competitors as well and know where you stand.”
Find out more about Yusma’s business at @itsyusmasaini on Instagram!
Yusma started her business in March 2021. She was a barista of a coffee shop in Jerudong called Tampd back then which did not have any baked goods to pair with the coffee. Yusma started baking brownies to serve with the coffee, even when she did not know how to make brownies during that time nor has she ever baked anything before. She explained how coffee has different notes that pair with different baked goods. For example, she explains how coffee with fruity notes will taste good when combined with a fruity desserts like fruit tarts or orange cakes.
Yusma’s business offers unique brownies which have chocolate spread on top, handmade chocolate letters as well as wordings. Her brownies range in different sizes, each with different names such as the Blitz Slab, the Marshall and Lily Slab as well as the McLarens Slab. Her best-seller, the Blitz Slab, is inspired by TikTok videos she found from foreign bakers and she wanted to integrate the idea into her own brownies. The Blitz Slab is also Yusma’s favourite item on her menu.
In terms of strategies, Yusma has applied what she learned in her marketing management classes in UBD. One of the strategies is using social media such as Instagram and sometimes TikTok to promote her business. She mainly uses Instagram as her main marketing platform; she uploads photos and updates stories of her brownie slabs as well as a means to communicate with her customers to
receive feedback. Understanding the algorithm has benefited Yusma in her business, as she now knows when to upload her posts to gain customers’ attention.
Yusma has made a lot of collaborations this past few years, mostly with Tampd since she is working there so it is easier to collaborate. Last year, she made Halloween Boxes where she received thirty orders, which according to Yusma was huge since she was the only one baking. She made pumpkin spice cupcakes to pair with the pumpkin spice latte which was interesting because they were not brownies which are her specialty, and it was her first time making pumpkin spice cupcakes. There was also a time where she collaborated with her friend from SBE who sold bracelets (@bijouxdejuillet.bn on Instagram) where she sold her Valentine’s Box with the bracelets. She also did several pop-up sales in Tampd, at SPACE by the BOXR and recently, at Feng Cha.