Young entrepreneur finds livelihood in 'love letters'

Nur Farrah Diba Azhar shows the love letters filled with minced meat. — Bernama
The process of making the love letters. — Bernama
Love letters filled with minced chicken. — Bernama
One of the delicacies produced by Nur Farrah Diba Azhar. — Bernama
Staff display the variety of biscuits produced by Nur Farrah Diba Azhar. — Bernama

WHEN civil servant Nur Farrah Diba Azhar began selling 'Kuih Kapit' biscuits, a traditional Malaysian delicacy known as Love Letters, in her spare time back in 2014, little did she know that the business would grow so big she would have to quit her job at the Penang Hill Corporation.

The 28-year-old said she decided to tender her resignation from the corporation after receiving a large number of orders from her customers as she could no longer juggle both at the same time.

"The person who strongly agreed and supported my decision to resign from the corporation was my uncle. He greatly encouraged me to get serious about this business. My parents, on the other hand, initially disagreed because they were happy that I already had a permanent job as a civil servant. I had worked with the Penang Hill Corporation for almost six years.

"However, I thought that if I could not commit to the job, I might as well quit so that the post can be filled by someone who really needs it. So, I did. I tendered my resignation and worked full-time on this business ever since," she told Bernama.

She said she initially sold the biscuits via the dropship method, that is by taking orders from customers and having them fulfilled by a supplier.

However, Nur Farrah Diba said everything changed when her supplier decided to bail out, and she could not fulfil the orders received from customers.

"In July 2015, I received orders for more than 7,000 jars of Love Letters biscuits. It was Ramadan and just three weeks before Hari Raya, my supplier bailed out as they could fulfil a large number of orders, and I had to return the deposits paid by all my customers.

"From that moment on, I learned how to make the biscuits myself. I sourced for recipes from family and friends who were skilled in making the delicacy. I spent a month making my own research and development (R&D) until I got the right texture and taste," she said.

According to Nur Farrah Diba, the uniqueness of her Love Letters was that they were made according to the method used by the Chinese community, which produced a more delicate and thin texture.

The young entrepreneur of Chinese-Malay parentage said she started off with only four flavours for the biscuits, namely original, chocolate, peanut butter and Nutella.

Since mid-2016, she said she began introducing Love Letters in other flavours such as 'choki-choki' chocolate, pandan, durian and chicken floss.

"Each flavour has its own target market. Children prefer chocolate and Nutella, women love the peanut butter flavour, the Chinese community likes the chicken floss, while durian lovers will opt for durian flavour," she said.

Nur Farrah Diba, who has been running her company NFDAE Enterprise in Taman Janggus Jaya, Permatang Pauh, here for the past two years, said her company received orders for about 12,000 jars of Love Letters biscuits annually and each jar was sold at between RM10 and RM15.

Asked about her future plans, Nur Farrah Diba said she wished to market the durian-flavoured Love Letters to China as the Chinese were very fond of the king of fruits.

"The durian variant has the potential to go far and penetrate the international market," she said. — Bernama