Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Malaysian Cocoa Board director-general Dr Azhar Ismail (left) visiting Hazlina Mahmood’s Hazlina’s stall at the Malaysia Second Chocolate Fair at Danga City Mall. — Picture by Roslan Khamis
My success with chocolate fondue fountain
ABOUT a year ago, I decided to quit my job in the private sector to set up my own business. It was a decision that I made after much thought, considering I had two young sons to care for.
My husband, Yusree Abdullah, asked me what I wanted to venture into. Since I have always been interested in chocolates and cooking, the choice was quite obvious.However it was just not enough to simply make and sell chocolates. I had to find something different from what the others were doing in the chocolate business.
It was through a friend that I found out about chocolate fondue fountains, which were manufactured in Singapore and very popular there.
I later learned that many Singaporean Muslims were looking for the halal alternative to chocolate fondue fountains.They would tell me that much of the chocolate used had liquor in it, and so I decided to be among the first in Johor Baru to offer chocolate fondue fountains using halal chocolate.
Now in my seventh month of business, Blisscandy is slowly making a name for itself in and around Johor and Singapore.The business community here is still recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis. Everything seems to be on the up for us business folk in Johor. But it is different for businessmen in the city centre, especially at the shopping mall where I have set up my shop -- Plaza Kotaraya.
Like many of the vendors, shop- keepers and business owners, we have been going through a slump since the state government's administrative offices moved to Nusajaya.The offices used to be at the Sultan Ibrahim Building, Bukit Timbalan, which is a stone's throw away from Plaza Kotaraya.My solution was to promote my product outside the city by meeting clients. I have been doing that since starting my business and have visited potential clients in Tesco outlets and Plaza Angsana.The best business opportunity I got recently was to be able to participate in the Malaysia Second Chocolate Fair at Danga City Mall from June 4 and June 6.I was probably the only Johorean chocolate entrepreneur among the 30 local and foreign exhibitors. I was apprehensive about taking part considering I was new in the business and would be in competition with much larger established companies.But positive thinking prevailed, and I went all out to promote my shop and the chocolate fondue fountain. I received many enquiries about the machine and requests for renting it. I suppose the organisers, Expomedia Events, were right. They said my shop was unique as it was the only one offering chocolate fountain machines in Johor.In terms of my family life, I cannot ask for anything better. My husband and our two sons -- aged 5 and 11/2 years -- live in Taman Setia Tropika, Johor Baru.My husband has been very supportive and was at my side when I took part in the chocolate fair.I am also quite proud that I am the only one among my six siblings who has set up a business.My two brothers, three sisters and I were born and bred in Benut, Pontian, and we come from a Bugis family. My ancestral family home was once featured in the newspapers for its unique structure.It is a large 120-year-old house made of kayu jati, without a single nail used in its construction. My mother and elder brother live there, and occassionally get requests from tourists to visit the house.I suppose one can suceed in business if there is an opportunity and a will to make it a success.
Interview by Ahmad Fairuz Othman
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