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Home Sweet Work: 13 Malaysian Businesses That Started From Home

Home is where the business is.


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Home Sweet Work: 13 Malaysian Businesses That Started From Home
Pops Malaya/Lilin & Co./Helen's Handmade Bear

From their homes to the world.


Being at home may sound monotonous to many but it could also stir up some fresh ideas and inspirations.

And when done right, passion evolves into a sustainable business.

These local homegrown businesses have proven to perform and you could come up with the next one.

The Kinder Soap Company 

Why buy when you can make your own?
Motherhood changes everything, or so the saying goes, and the founding of this soap brand was prompted just by that: Mother’s Love.

Michelle got into soap making when her new-born baby developed signs of eczema. Having been through childhood eczema experiences herself, she wanted a silver bullet for just any kinds of sensitive skin.

You can also find lip balms and other products.
After extensive researches on essential oils and plant oils, she settled into a routine of producing handmade, all-natural soap bars. But it was the excess soap that hinted her husband to start a small business and things took off from there.

Today, they own a production studio to support customers from both Malaysia and Singapore. Together with their best-selling soap and shampoo bars, they have expanded their range to cosmetics with deodorants, lip balms and toothpaste. 

Reach them at: www.kindersoaps.com

Love 18 Chocolate

Every piece of chocolate is handmade. 
Sometimes they say, a product should hit the market at the right time. But we all agree, there is never a wrong time for good chocolates. Especially handmade ones that are as delicious as they look.

Love 18 Chocolate may be synonymous with sweet success, but it began as a couple’s retirement dream. Founder Eddie Lee and his wife, Aileen, transformed a spare room in their home into a mini chocolate laboratory.

Research after research saw volumes of chocolates forgone during the process until the first series named First Love was released. There were only three flavours to choose from, but the accolades encouraged the numbers rising to 12 and recorded over 20,000 boxes sold nationwide.

No preservatives added.No matter what people’s familiarity with chocolate was before, these dainty delights impressed with zero preservatives and varieties like truffle, hand-painted bonbon, praline and more.

Visit any of their six outlets across Malaysia and acknowledge how far dreams can scale. 

Reach them at: www.love18c.com

Root Remedies

Totally safe for all.It is tough to imagine the popular skincare brand as a business that started from home, but that was the first chapter of Root Remedies.

Founder Chiew Yee Sian has a degree in fashion and marketing, but skipped the social script of joining a workforce. Instead, she began to experiment with her chemical-free skincare in the kitchen after spending much on commercial products to no avail.

The go-to brand for women.
Following six months of hard work, the array of natural products with essential oils and plant extracts as core ingredients, garnered plenty of genuine feedbacks among friends and family.

These days, Root Remedies is the go-to brand for many women for facial cleansers, lotions, scrubs, facial oils and more.

Reach them at: www.rootremedies.com/

Pops Malaya

It started with a craving.During her pregnancy period, Pops Malaya founder Yasmin Karim couldn’t get enough of lime flavoured ice lollies. But what followed through was a pre-diabetic test result from her gynaecologist.

Yasmin was willing to give up on refined sugar but never on her cravings, so she froze her own lime and fruit juices at home. And voila, homemade ice pops! Unlike most brands out there, the Selangor-based business ensures the icy bars are made with the fewest of ingredients, minus the presence of artificial flavours and colourings.

Healthy ice cream, anyone?
The “healthier” label may gain attention at first but what keeps the crowd coming back is the variety. Think options like Strawberry Melon, Orange Dried Apricot, Dragonfruit Orange and more.

Together with co-founder Zuraini Zulkifli, Pops Malaya has stretched its wings to numerous supermarkets and selected Petronas stores across Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. 

Reach them at: www.popsmalaya.com

Teisha Handmade Bags

Can't find a bag? Make one!
There is a reason “handmade” is such high regard for any product. It carries a sense of individuality, creativity and care that sets itself apart from mass-machine produced supplies.

This is one of the reasons why Fiona Roland’s Teisha Handmade Bags is making a name for itself. The business started as a side hustle and today, both Fiona and her husband are running it full-time to meet the increasing demand.

Back in 2009, when her second child was born, Fiona had to quit her job to look after the kids. She completed a sewing course to make the most of her time and soon made handmade bags. At home, she took over a year to master the aspects of bag making and collected customer’s feedbacks for improvisation.

Check out their best sellers.
Their shot to fame is their medium-sized Ollie Bag and Hobo Bag, followed by purses and clutches. The marriage of colours, characters and textures are hard not to give a second look.

The hardworking couple is continually committed to getting their creative juices flow to meet customer’s bag preferences.  

Reach them at: https://www.facebook.com/TeishaHandmade/

MUNI

Adorable stuff, don't you think?The inspiration for Muni stemmed from Muni Osman’s personal interest in rustic bohemian style and the desire to create apparel that binds natural dye, an art that caught his attention in Bali.

The production demands patience and space, which got him to build a small studio behind his house. The raw processes are somewhat as nature intended, which sets Muni apart from other clothing lines.

Made from natural ingredients.
The honest colours are derived from fruit skins, tree barks and leaves and more. Think of a red bamboo T-shirt extracted from a mixture of gambier and mangosteen peel dyes and scarf with yellow hues of daun ketapang.

And no shopping at Muni is complete without their most recognisable product, the versatile knot pouch. Muni Osman shares that he is still in the process of mastering the art of natural dyeing and expects to deliver more tropical plant-inspired apparel in the coming years. 

Reach them at: www.munimalism.com

Homemade Sena’s Spice Blend

All the flavours in the world.
You know you’re in good hands when the founder of Homemade Sena’s Spice Blend holds a degree in Food Science and Masters in Nutrition, plus has Indian spices down-pat.

Clearly, the stage was set for Chandrasena. To shake off her boredom being a housewife after she moved to Selangor, she cooked dishes for friends and family using her own spice blends and they couldn't get enough of it.

Take your pick!
Shortly, she made her spice mixes available online and orders were piling in. To date, they have a whopping 19 choices of spice blends to choose from. To name a few, chilli powder - Colombo curry powder, organic Ceylon cinnamon powder, roasted fennel powder, roasted cumin powder and garam masala.

Aside from the obvious reasons to order, she also uploads cooking recipes on her Facebook page to make life in kitchen even easier.  

Reach them at: Facebook/Homemade Sena Spices

Lilin & Co 

Homemade scented candles? Yes, please!
Candles often spring to mind for birthdays and spa treatments but those familiar with Lilin & Co think of relaxation. These soy wax candles are handmade in small batches and infused with natural ingredients to set our senses alive when they are lit.

This idea popped in Julie’s mind when she attended her cousin’s wedding in Melbourne as she received a tealight soy candle. Fascinated by the soul-lifting scent and eco-friendly nature of the candle, she pondered of introducing it in Malaysia.

But as they say: 'The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately. '

For that soothing touch.
Julie and her partner took over nine months to master soy wax due to its volatile nature and had to source raw material supplies from abroad. Added with their dose of creativity, unique scents like Lemongrass and Lime, Black Tea and Lychee, and Strawberries and Champagne have changed the way we see candles.

Another evidence of their success is when Lilin + Co moved to a retail-cum-production space in October 2019. 

Reach them at: www.lilinandco.com

Betterthanblouses 

Get your swag on.
With a name like BetterThanBlouses, you know their clothing line is destined to be good.

Pei makes handmade, light-weighted blouses in small batches with designs that make an instant impression. This may sound like a career path of a designer, but it isn’t. Growing up, she delved into different interests such as pottery and handmade soaps, which earned her the nickname “Jack of all Trades”.

But she proved her family that she was also a "Master of One" when she left her doctor job to pursue her passion for handmade blouses.

They have more than just blouses.
Initially, she and her husband sold the tops at pop-up markets and on social media which had excellent responses and once their online store was up, orders multiplied.

When asked what her inspiration was, she responded: “People liked the product and it kept selling out.”

Truly, what is a better motivation than sales. 

Reach them at: www.betterthanblouses.com

Kelava 

Yummy in our tummy.
Back in 2016, when co-founders Azlan and Aina adopted a plant-based lifestyle, there wasn’t any local producer to quell their craving for vegan ice cream. As they sensed a gap in the market, the husband-and-wife duo made coconut milk-based ice cream that tasted just as legit as the real deal.

However, the process wasn’t all rosy as they emphasised on zero artificial colouring and preservations. Online researches, trial and errors and their instinctive flavour spins got things to click after some time.

At present, Kelava has turned into a household name in bazaars and food events, and has 22 retailers, up to Ipoh. The drool-worthy flavours include Salted Gula Melaka, Onde-Onde and Coconut Latte. 

Reach them at: www.kelava.my

CaveNut

Peanut is the best nut.
From finishing a peanut butter jar in two days to mixing the creamy spread into protein shakes, fitness enthusiasts Ning, Cal and Sean simply have peanut butter tugged in their heartstrings.

But the store-bought ones were clumpy to their liking, so they took matters into their own food processor. First up, the original version which does not contain any added oil and has organic raw cane sugar is in place of refined sugar and Himalayan rock salt substituting table salt.

The zero series is equally popular, made with 100 per cent roasted peanut, with the chunky version being the top seller. As such, the homemade butter is catered to diets like vegan, paleo, keto or just about any peanut butter-inspired recipe. 

Reach them at: Facebook/CaveNutMY

Helen’s Handmade Bear 

From medium-sized bears...
There is a general conception that women love collecting bears. But in some cases, they love making bears too.

Penang-born Helen was a crafter since young, making the most out of natural clay and seashore shells. Acknowledging her desire for handicrafts, she later set her sights on teddy bears.

To Malaysia's biggest.
Responses got big and the sizes of bear got bigger. From palm-sized mini bears to gifts and decorations, and finally, the Largest Handmade Teddy Bear in Malaysia, which was officially featured in the Malaysia Book of Records, Helen’s Handmade Bears was going places.

The customised bears have a unique appeal to cater to all kinds of events, particularly weddings. For those wanting to be part and parcel of the experience, get the DIY pack and while away the time at home.  

Reach them at: www.helenshandmadebear.com

Serasi

For all your beauty needs.
Having had enough of commercial skincare products that seemed to be incompatible and irritant, owner Intan Halim began to produce on her own at home.

Minus any chemicals, synthetic preservatives and parabens and the infusion of essential oils, the output proved efficient for herself and her family members.

Driven by the positive feedbacks, she kept going and today has a whole range of skincare products that are rather interesting too.

Think face powder infused with jojoba oil and essential oils of lavender and Frankincense, eye serum made from sweet almond oil and hazelnut toffee lip balm. 

Reach them at: www.serasi.my/

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