Malaysian Mother Of Two Shares Her Journey Of Becoming A Successful Chocolatier
Siti Noraizah Kassim, or Siti Izah, as she is more fondly known as, is the founder of a local artisanal chocolate company based in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan that has been well established for over a decade
Though she has now made a name for herself in the chocolate industry, her journey to get to where she is today was not an easy one.
It all started in a simple but meaningful way — with her realising that chocolate is a high-value product enjoyed by everyone from different walks of life. That sparked her interest in becoming a chocolatier, leading her to attend a basic chocolate course organised by a federal statutory agency.
Besides having to deal with sceptics who did not believe in Malaysian chocolates, Siti Izah also had to face challenges that came from home
For the mother of two, juggling managing her family and developing a business from scratch was indeed a great test. Adding to the her struggles was the fact that she did not receive support from her family.
"Initially, my family was not so supportive because we don't come from a business family and the confidence was not there at all. But I was stubborn and I did it alone to prove to them that I am serious in becoming a business owner," Siti Izah recalled.
"The chocolate business is not easy because this product is considered a luxury and the way of marketing is very different," noted the 53-year-old.
Despite the struggles she had to undergo, especially during the early days, Siti Izah kept pushing without losing hope, continuing to expand her knowledge and skill in chocolate-making. The blood, sweat, and tears she poured into her venture has certainly paid off.
Having firsthand experience in the industry herself, Siti Izah has found that there are several key reasons as to why there are not many chocolatiers in the local scene
According to her, one of the main reasons is because it takes a lot for one to get started in the industry — from the lack of exposure to limited resources as well as the high cost of training and equipment.
Siti Izah also admitted that the chocolate industry in Malaysia is "still quite new and developing."
In her opinion, an ecosystem needs to be developed to ensure a continuous flow of generation after generation taking up the skill to keep the art of chocolate making alive. Among her suggestions to achieve the ideal situation is to develop a TVET training school for chocolate production, referencing those abroad.
Siti Izah highly recommends those who are keen about chocolate to explore the scene further.
"I would like to encourage those who have the passion, skill, and support to pursue a career in chocolate because this field has wide opportunities, not only in Malaysia, but also abroad. It can become a long-term career and provide you with high earnings too when you become an expert," she shared.
She also advises those who are considering this path to attend physical classes, adding, "Don't just learn online. Making chocolate is about technical skills and science too."
In conjunction with the upcoming World Chocolate Day, which falls on 7 July, Siti Izzah has an empowering message to women out there who are interested to be part of the chocolate industry
"I have learnt the meaning of passion, belief, and focus. Plan and put your direction right. Get set and go! Be bold, be different from others!" she shared, hoping that more women will get involved in the local chocolate industry and help take it to new heights.