From Makeup To Baking: Malaysians Share Jobs They've Picked Up To Cope With The Pandemic

Whether it's cooking, teaching, or baking, these artistes display resilience in trying times.

Cover image via One third creative house (Provided to SAYS)

Losing your job is one thing. But not being able to make a living out of a career you already have can be just as nerve-racking.

With performances and events put on hold since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO), many local artistes have had to resort to finding other ways of putting food on the table. 

Savings alone aren't enough, especially when the future is in such instability. It's scary to see your bank account slowly diminish as the days pass.

Image via GIPHY

We spoke to several Malaysian artistes to find out what they've been doing to make a living during these uncertain times:

1. Don Alfonso Soliano Guerzo, Daniel Soliano Guerzo, Vianne Tai, Audrey Soliano, and Joy Victor

Seeing as food and cooking is his passion, bassist Don Alfonso came up with a plan to make char kuey teow to help make ends meet during this time.

He launched 'Don Char CKT' in May together with his brother, Daniel, and a team of coordinators, Vianne, Audrey, and Joy, who all had to put their full-time music careers on hold. 

They currently operate from their home and take orders twice a month, so that no ingredients go to waste. What sets their CKT apart from others is that all ingredients are carefully hand-picked, it's cooked over a charcoal fire, and Don uses a secret kicap recipe.

You can self-collect or have it delivered to you by placing an order through WhatsApp. They are hoping to eventually expand into catering for private events like birthday parties and gatherings.


2. Kirstie Maximus

Having struggled to get a gig for months during the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enough to drive full-time musician and recording artiste Kirstie Maximus into becoming a part-time chef!

The producer currently cooks and delivers homemade lamb chops, which has proven to be a success. She shared that only time will tell if this will need to be a permanent job or just a side hustle while the music industry slowly gets back on its feet.

Maximus Chops delivers lamb chops with vegetables for RM22, excluding delivery charges.

You can place an order for dinner by dropping her a message on Instagram with your name, address, contact number, and how many orders you'd like. Orders are available on weekdays only.

3. Tiah Ridhwani

30-year-old Tiah Ridhwani, who used to be a full-time performer, revealed that she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Adult-Onset Still's Disease (AOSD).

She ended up in and out of the hospital for months and was unable to perform due to the medications and treatment.

"To put it honestly, as a result of my health troubles last year, MCO did not impact my financial state significantly. I was blessed to still obtain recording jobs during the MCO (completed at home, of course!) and I kept busy collaborating musically with friends online, which was really fun!" she explained.

During the MCO, Tiah began experimenting in the kitchen to keep her younger sister occupied. And she eventually came up with eight different flavours of soft-baked cookies, including Biscoff, red velvet, and chocolate chip! 

"I kept posting videos and photos on my Instagram Stories, and I had quite a few friends asking for some. I eventually decided to sell them! Just like that, I created THICC."

Although she really misses performing, Tiah's currently enjoying every moment and hopes to be able to continue this in the long run. She hopes to eventually return to the stage when the time is right.

You can place an order for THICC cookies by dropping her a message on Instagram.

4. Sharon Chong

Image via Sharon Chong

"My anxiety levels soared because I was worried about my finances and whether I would be able to perform again, as a great chunk of my income came from shows and my livelihood depended on it," Sharon Chong, who is a full-time musician, shared with SAYS.

During the pandemic, she shared that she tried to make ends meet by transitioning into teaching music online as well as some rare one-on-one virtual makeup classes.

Although the first 60 days of MCO was truly difficult, Chong explained that she was grateful for generous friends who passed her care packages throughout that time.

"I had just moved to a new place, and had a full year of shows in 2020 – all cancelled. I also started eating a lot lesser just to cope with finances, and I stay at home most of the time."

She hopes that this part-time job will help her to expand her number of students, even as gigs eventually take off again.

Image via Sharon Chong

5. SHN

With zero gigs available, full-time artiste SHN (pronounced as 'shén') admits that she was barely surviving financially while teaching vocal classes.

She decided to delve into baking and only recently began taking orders for her cookies, which she calls 'nommies'.

You can order her cookies on Instagram or drop her a message here if you're interested in vocal lessons.

During MCO, this Malaysian band came up with a way to help underprivileged families and those who lost their jobs:

Despite the odds, these Malaysians prove that it's possible to leave your job to pursue a different interest:

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