Cover Joyce Shih and Nadja van der Drift (Photo: Sunborne)

We love these brands that are led by female entrepreneurs

In a male-dominated industry, here are six ladies carving out a niche for themselves in F&B.

See also: International Women's Day 2022: 6 Women Who are Raising the Bar

1. Mei by Fat Spoon

Mei by Fat Spoon are owned by sisters Michelle and Melissa Pong. It's known for its Japanese-inspired rice bowls with two branches in the Klang Valley, one at The Hub SS2 and the other in Desa Sri Hartamas. 

According to the Pong sisters, F&B is not for the faint-hearted. "We believe that the pandemic has only driven home this point even more. We really need to stretch our creative capacity and resilience to weather whatever challenges that come our way. It can be gritty work but also very rewarding when you do it right."

See also: Where & What To Eat: The Hub At SS2

2. Butterbae.Co

Born and bred in Penang, Samantha Yen Yee Tan started her business out of her love for food and her passion for learning about how to achieve a certain flavour profile and texture. Hence Butterbae.Co, which has been churning out artisanal butter, golden sugee cakes, and most recently, bespoke grazing platters. The butter is always a hit in kitchens and at dining tables.

"I wish for all of the women out there who are still thinking about whether or not to make that move to start your own humble business to just go for it. It can take you places. With every little boo boo we make, we learn and we grow. At the very least, we've given ourselves a chance to shine," says Tan.

See also: Flavoured Butter And Where To Buy It In The Klang Valley

3. The Hungry Tapir

The Hungry Tapir is a product of love of mother-daughter duo Cynthia Rodrigo and Makissa Smeeton who jumped in head first despite having no prior F&B experience. Their Chinatown outlet is now a favourite spot among the locals looking for plant-based staples ranging from nasi lemak to brunch classics like the Dragon Bowl 'T'.

"We find it to still be pretty challenging at times, especially working with men who have to answer to female bosses. Our work-style is tactful and energetic, as we work on the basis of respect and equality, which we expect in return from anyone that we work with," says Smeeton.

See also: 6 Places For Excellent Nasi Lemak In The Klang Valley

4. Kind Kones

When it comes to dairy-free, all-natural vegan ice cream, Serina S. Bajaj's brainchild Kind Kones knows what it's doing. Pandan Gula Melaka, Charcoal Vanilla and Earl Grey Mylk Tea are just three of the flavours in its whimsical line-up. What started as a passion project is now a force to reckon with in the local vegan and dairy-free food scene here. 

"What I’ve noticed about the F&B industry thus far is the amazing camaraderie, especially among the women. I hope that this continues to strengthen so it can be a catalyst for change and progress. As a tribe, we can stand together to call out any gender discrimination and stereotypes so our industry can be more inclusive, diverse and equitable," says Bajaj on her hopes for women entrepreneurs in F&B.

See also: 5 Healthier Ice Cream Brands To Try

5. Mymamamiha

Mymamamiha's cakes and biscuits aren't just visually pleasing, they are also delicious as its signature carrot cakes and chocolate cakes can attest. Founder Izreen Abdullah started her small business as a passion project at the height of the pandemic and is now baking for cake lovers all over the Klang Valley.

"What I love most are the moments when I get to experience other people’s joy when they sample my creations, to be given the privilege to be part of a celebration. I also love that I have that reason to remind me why I do it, every time I start on a challenging task," says Izreen.

6. Sunborne

Ready-made pancakes have never tasted better with Sunborne's pancake mixes. These plant-based pancake mixes, founded by fitness instructors Joyce Shih and Nadja van der Drift, are a dream when it comes to whipping up a simple and healthy breakfast in the morning.

"Being in the industry is an opportunity for us to share something we are passionate about. Not being able to teach during lockdown, we started this business which we had been toying with for a while. We want to show and hopefully inspire others to turn what they love into a business too, no matter how daunting it may seem at first."


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