A younger me has always wanted to build its own business. Seeing it grow and enjoying to scale it up from scratch is an experience I have always wanted. Yet, I was busy with school. And another school. Like every other friend I have. Until I met a man with an equal entrepreneurial mindset as I am, Samuel. I remember talking with him about one business project for hours until 4-ish in the morning. Marrying him has changed my dream to become a reality. I am living my dream. Some friends may find my life now is a symbol of success. So, this is the moment when I want to clear up my throat and slice up the truth about my dreamy business journey.
So, these are my failures’ collection that I see now as the collection of my business practices which is not as epic as when ‘Colgate’ brand came up with an idea to launch ‘Beef Lasagna’ to the food market. Wait, Colgate toothpaste brand also made Lasagna? I feel like I am brushing my teeth with the lasagna sauce now… Ok, back to my failure collection, here they are:
1. Candied Fruits. My Mom is keeping her Chinese origin so well. She taught me from early on about a simple transaction between Selling and Buying. I had a month of school break when I was in Elementary School. During this 4-week holiday, my Mom still woke me up in the morning to make me delivered a jar of candied fruits to the neighbour’s ‘front-house store’, what we call it as ‘Warung’. And at 7 pm every night, I got to pick up the emptied jar. Well, sometimes I had some left over. But, most of the time, my jars were always empty. The super exciting part was when I received the money from that day’s sales. It involved calculating with real money cash. All the money went into my bank account.
2. Kids’ Story Books Rental Service. I shared the living place with other cousins in a type of ‘Harem House’. At that time, it was one of the biggest houses in the neighbourhood belonged to my Grand Parents. We had quite some yard with plenty of guava trees to climb for. One day, with my two other cousins, we wanted to have some money. This cousin had quite a lot of kids’ storybooks and children’s magazine. Neighbour kids did come and checked and some of them gave some rental coin. It worked we were so happy. The bitter part was the books never came back!
3. Roots Chips. Not enough putting me in the selling world during my school break, my Mom made some Banana chips and sometimes Casava chips for me to sell at school. She saw my eagerness to save money. I was the happiest seller. I did the direct selling during the class. My teacher caught me during the transaction. Since then… I stop the chips business.
4. Trash Paper Baskets. I saw a documentary on TV. It was an old woman collecting some used newspaper and plastic wrapper and turned it into colourful hats. I saw the way she did her products. It looked pretty simple and doable. I was twenty-something at that time. I saw a possibility to money-craft the trash paper I have plenty already at home. So, I tried to make a simple basket. I showed that to my neighbour friend. No reaction. I came home with a blank head.
5. Consultancy Group Company. Midst of May 2010, I met the other 24 Liaison Officers from the international event, the Governors’ Climate and Forest (GCF) meeting held in Aceh, Sumatera, Indonesia. Including myself, the 25 of us were all overseas graduates and we were so bonding with each other during this 3-day intensive event. Right after the event, we committed to forming ourselves into a professional consultancy group company. We were so thrilled to success as each of us have varied pieces of knowledge that might be essential to this newly born company. Our first project proposal to the local government of Aceh was to create a regular multicultural event held in Aceh. We proposed for ‘Barongsai – The Lion Dance Festival‘ to specifically acknowledge the Chinese culture in Aceh. Chinese people and its culture are still one of the main marginal groups of society in Aceh, as Aceh favour its deep flavour into more Arabic and Malay culture instead. As I am the only a half-Chinese member of this consultancy project, my Mom was happy to co-exist in the project to direct us to connect with some Chinese people in the ‘Chinese village‘. Our first event project proposal finished without a flaw and it was expected to be a phenomenal starting point for our company. We confidently submitted it along with the Financial Budget for the proposed event. We didn’t have an internal connector like many Consultant Companies normally have and do before submitting any proposal. In short, while waiting for the answer, we heard that this Barongsai event was going to be held for the first time in Banda Aceh by another consultant company. Our jaws were simply dropped down. Nights of writing the proposal were for nothing. The idea was stolen in a flip of our hand. Our motivation was all dried up. Each of us leaving the company for other jobs and some to other countries. And I was going to South Korea.
6. Cafe Shop. Before I really left for South Korea, I managed to fail another business idea. This time was also a group project involving the young and talented volunteers that my NGO nurtured them for a couple of years. Along with my neighbour friend, –whom I showed my ‘Trash Paper Basket’ project, we were so busy building our dream cafe shop. Starting from looking for a place to rent, to renovate, to order some furniture, etcetera… This cafe would not only serve delicious Aceh Sumatran coffee, but it would also host these young folks to perform their talents, such as performing Acehnese traditional dances. Yet, I had to leave the country as my scholarship application was accepted. I simply neglected the cafe project and leaving friends and other people to manage to its final closing without any Return on Investment at all.
7. Handcrafted Princessy Panty. This time, I just got married and decided to live in Korea by leaving the past failures stayed in the past. I knew from the beginning that I would like to build a small business from home. I proposed my innocent husband, Samuel, to buy me a sewing machine. So he did. I could not handle the ritual of inserting thread through the eye needle over and over again. I returned the machine within a week. Luckily with a full refund. How I love internet shopping in Korea.
8. Homemade Cake. My husband has a sweet tooth. I just started to have my own kitchen and I loved to experiment with new recipes, every single day. Oh, I still remember how Samuel loved my baking. And I enjoyed baking it for him although I failed some cakes, he still said “Uhmmm… miamm… it is delicious!!” Not sure he really meant it when he said that, but he finished all. And I planned BIG. I read the professional chef books etcetera. I watched the ‘Master Chef’ TV program. The thing was, I was so moody. I don’t want to cook or bake if I am not in the mood. Due to this imbalance mood, I questioned myself: “Will I still bake if someone orders the cake?” “Will the cake taste good still if I am not in the mood?“. So, I moved on from the baking project…
9. Bath & Spa Products. I made cakes looking like soap bars. The idea of ‘body detox‘ was already there since we were on baby planning program. To accommodate my ‘sweet tooth‘ husband, I made fun with cake-like soap bars. It involved me to design the soap. I really enjoyed it. And an idea popped to make delicious spa products. Soap and Bathbombs like Lush sounded intriguing. So, I started bluntly and called this project “Frida’s Little Soap”. Until I found out that there were not enough customers who would buy the Bathbombs because they don’t have bathtubs! I didn’t do my research beforehand. I started losing passion in making soaps and bombs.
Until one Indonesian lady came approaching me asking if I have something to cure her 2 kids with ‘uncurable’ atopic dermatitis skin condition. It was bleeding and could not take shower because the skin could not contact with water. She said she went to many doctors and been given various balm, salve, and medications. Nothing worked. She almost begged me to have some ‘miracle product’. I didn’t realize back then that it was my ‘Aha! Moment‘. Finding a purpose in my skill helped me to launch my current project:
FridaSkincare. I aim to cure people with skin issue through my products. It gives me self-satisfaction when I succeed to cure her kids of chronic eczema. She admitted once that how her kids are now happier without any skin issue. I am in the Cloud 9!
A little note. Actually, I had plenty of other bitter business experiences that I don’t share here including being trapped in various ‘multilevel marketing‘ system.
Image Credits: Pixabay