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Friday, 13 May 2016

YOU ARE INVITED TO DOUBLE A!

I can't believe Double A is almost a year now! If it's a little baby girl, it has probably started walking awkwardly by now :')

I must say the past one year has taught me so so so much that no paid job could ever give me. The struggles of growing a brand that nobody knew of, no one has heard of and really, just trying to build it up from scratch. We had our good times, we had out challenging times. 

The one thing that has made me learn so much was indeed the whole process of managing people. Working in a place where I have a great team dynamic and good chemistry, you'd think it would be easy to re-create that in a new business. But truth be told, unless it is your company, everyone is really just there for the money. One thing that you'd have to do is to make sure you have a goal and target that you want to achieve and make sure you focus and stay on course or otherwise the struggle would consume you overnight. 

Well, we survived a year without killing each other so that's good right? Phew! Hehe!

This year, to celebrate Double A's first birthday we wanted to do something a little different and give it back to a charity. So we're planning a charity bake sale this Sunday for everyone! All our previous/existing suppliers are joining hands to deliver cakes onto our counter for all our customers. HOW AMAZING IS THAT!

12 different bakers with almost 30 different types of cakes on the counter this Sunday, it'll be the biggest partnership we have had so far! BE. EXCITED!

All the day's proceeds will be channeled to Red Bubbles (click here!) :)

So come on over to Double A this Sunday everyone!
10am - 11pm!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

God sent

They say rough times don't last, neither do good, great times.

A few years back, I met a person who had probably influenced me in so many ways. In so many good ways. To be a greater person, to always be kind, to always be calm, to never miss prayers, to stay very very humble, to put family first at all times and to always remember Him in everything that you do.

He probably does not know that he had influenced me in such a big way (even Aiman feels so!), but I guess in a way God may have made us crossed paths so that he could rub off these great traits that I should have scrambled to master. Why I say 'should have' was because I never thought God would end that great time unexpectedly.

If there is ONE thing that I am really bad at, is to learn to let go off people I've come to enjoy being around. In a way, I feel very very blessed and thankful for being given the opportunity to have met such a great person :)

Most people say we will always see them again, but let's be honest, I once said the same about my colleagues back in the London office, but who are we to kid. We've all definitely got our own lives to get through with, it would be pretty difficult once everyone has their own schedules to attend to :)

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Double A - What is it?

Ok, like seriously?! Where HAVE I been?

So many things have been happening lately that I get so exhausted by the end of the day, but then I have an idea and just suddenly I have the motivation to stay up and work on something. I look at myself and be like "Come onnnn! Really? Now? Motivated? Can't you keep it for tomorrow?"

Taking many steps back, I've been getting a lot of interview questions on how did the idea of Double A come about?

When Aiman and I first started Double A, we had no background whatsoever in F&B. Our education for sure did not prepare us for this having graduated in Financial Engineering and Aiman in Computer Science - the only one thing we had in common was the love for eating. We used to love going cafe hopping just for the sake of trying that new thing we saw on instagram! We realise that there were so many people who were doing the same and thought hey, people are so willing to travel to get their hands on food! What if we were to house everything-good under one roof?

Unable to bake professionally, we set out to replicate a multi-label model of an online fashion retailer. I remembered telling Vivy "I wanna be like a FashionValet, but for food!". Double A strives to become a one-stop platform that carries outstanding home grown brands that are mostly home based, without a physical shop and does not sell cakes by slices. Collaboration is what we work very hard on! I totally bought this business model and it seemed like many others did too, Alhamdulillah! 

The Cafe was 80% up and running within 6 weeks with 3 local cake brands and a local coffee selection! I remembered we used to open only up till 6pm because the lights were not fully installed yet, so we had insufficient amount of natural light to operate at night. Challenges will always be there, we've had some good times, we've had major load of challenging times. In the beginning, it was about getting the words around! How do I get people to come to me, am I not just like any other cafe that sells cakes and coffee? NO. I keep reminding myself that we had an mission to achieve which is to be able to provide a space for customers to come and have amazing cakes from great bakers all around KL! Let us bring to you great cakes in slices! 

In this kinda space, we had to work doubly hard to stay relevant because cafes are just mushrooming everywhere. I always emphasis that customer service is THE most important tool we could have an edge on. Know your customers, know their favourtie cup of coffee and have the biggest smile during that 10 hours of working. No matter what you do, customers are always right. Honestly, it's easier said than done.

Close to a year later today, we have a lot more to learn and even more initiatives and campaigns to do! Totally learning a lot from all of these :)

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Welcoming 2016

Every 1st day of each year, it's a little special for both Aiman and I - just because we got married on the 1st of January. Lol! Eversince we got married, we've always wanted to go for Umrah as husband and wife, and Alhamdulillah He had invited us late last year which was just the perfect timing for us.

We've probably been so buried in work and the cafe the whole of 2015 that this Holy place we were going to step foot in would let us forget all worldly things for a good while. Met so many Malaysians whilst we were there and it was a really different experience going as husband and wife compared to my other two times I've been to Mekah and Madinah. Was a bit like a holiday for us because after prayers we will go out on food adventures late at night and scout for ice cream at the stall next to the mosque or even go the extra mile to look for their infamous fast food Al Baik and Al Tazaj.

It was such a calm and peaceful journey because all we did was eat, pray, sleep (we ate damn a lot of Shawarmas alright!). Literally. Whist I was there I realise that only if you drop everything that you're doing would you then be able to fully please Him! Not a single prayer time did we miss over there nor did we pray a minute too late (how could you, you go down to the mosque 30-60 minutes the prayer time). Kalau kat sini, 2 minutes before the next prayer time only would you start panicking, sometimes making invalid reasons like "how can you excuse yourself, it's a meeting with XYZ's CEO".

Just the other day, I overheard at a talk: "Everything comes from Him. The hardships, the wealth, the health etc. If He has written hardship for you throughout your whole life, you will experience only hardship no matter how you try to turn things around. If He has written continuous wealth for you, all those wealth will indeed be yours. At the end of the day, all of this are Rezeki from Him and the One who you should depend on is indeed Him"

So here's to a better 2016! For work, for the cafe, for our little family unit and being a better person :)
Oooh, have you gotten your duck planner yet? If you've not, you'd better hurry!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

On and Off

Ok I gotta clarify, I know everyone thinks I'm ALWAYS happy but really, which human is always happy all the time. Hehe!

Believe me, Aiman is probably the unlucky privileged one who gets to see every side of me. When I'm the happiest, extremely happy sampai Aiman cannot tahan also, when I'm the saddest, when I'm just really furious with work, he has seen it all. By nature, I'm impatient. Yup that's right, super duper. My poor staff, must think I'm a crazy tiger boss!

Having a day job means I rely a lot on my phone to get my message across to the Double A team and I'm always expecting them to reply to me within seconds. One minute passes by and I'll feel fidgety like "Mannnn how long is it to count that slice of cakes?". If I say we meet at 8.30, I expect for everyone to be there by 8.20.

In all honesty, having your own business you tend to want your business to run independently and efficiently. So our usual chat would go something like this

"Guys, why is the cake placed there instead of here?"

1 second

2 seconds

"guys??"

4 seconds

"Hellllllo?"

5 seconds

6 seconds

"GUYS! WHERE ARE YOUUUU YOOHOOOOOOO"

Man, I fear for my own future kids. Haha! Well to be fair, they're kinda used to me now, so they still take their time sometimes. Grrrrrrr.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Customers are always right

Working in a client-facing customer-servicing job, I've had to apologize to (potential) clients for slow systems or failed transactions due to down times and ATM machines that does not work or even for not being able to promise things that may be impossible.

Why? It's because I know what the problem was and given all information you would need to be able to manage customers. Yes, even if it isn't your fault (may be the system connections that a human cannot solve), I would still willingly apologize because customers subscribe to a certain product and brand for what it can do and never for what it may not be able to do. Managing client is priority because we are expected to provide them with whatever they need. Customers have the right to ask for what they want, and with that said if what they requested for is not available, it is also our duty to properly and clearly explain it to them. Yes, these are all my duty because I am client-facing and at customers' service and you should be protecting the brand that you work for.

At the end of the day, customers are adults and you know that they would be able to understand when explained to clearly.

What I have just experienced recently was pretty terrible. I've had to approach a party (on behalf of Double A) whereby I was the customer. Unfortunately, I'm sorry to say that in an organization such as theirs, they had this fear of cc-ing bosses or letting superiors know of how they work - to me, if you have not done anything wrong, you should not be afraid. In fact, you would want your bosses to acknowledge it in order to gain visibility.

Long story short, he explained A to me which I needed further clarification on. Instead of further explaining, (on a different day) he tells me he has 3 minutes to listen to me and that was all the time he had for me as a customer. Which client-facing person would in the right mind tell customers that? Explained all I could in 3 minutes, he left. Weeks later he called to tell me that I need to explain to him again because his Boss asked him but he did not know how to answer. Come on dude, you told me you had 3 minutes, now you're panicking when your Boss ask you to explain the product that you are selling to me.

So I came over to the office to explain but instead of listening, he said to me "Actually I don't understand coffee. Maybe you can do a presentation to our committee straightaway". Bravo to people who cannot be stretched in their jobs. So I proceeded to table my presentation (on behalf of him) and got everything sorted. Came in to sign papers and was told that when they explained A to me earlier, they actually meant B. Tried calling him to clarify, but never once did he pick up his calls, so in instances like this you naturally would write in to the Boss (who was the other person on the deal) to clarify.

What happens next? He went ballistic because we communicated with the Boss directly. My simple question to him was "but I thought you said you did nothing wrong, so why so scared?". In fact, he went up to my Manager and said "your bosses have made it so difficult for me because they communicated directly to my Boss. But this stays between the two of us don't tell your bosses". Again, if you had not done anything wrong, why then inform only my Manager and made her promise to keep it between the two of you. I hire people who work and would protect the good name of the company, you may have picked the wrong person to share secrets with.

It's puzzling  to see how certain organizations are so hierarchical that one would not speak up when questioned by the Boss but would instead relay their frustration to someone who know nothing about the situation to gain sympathy and votes. Come on Malaysians, we need to have more integrity in the work that we do! Long story short, he told our Manager a lot of things off the records that I would indeed make this known to his boss, only because I wouldn't want another customer to get into the same situation as I did. Customers are always right, unless and until they ask for the stars and the moon.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The earth stops for 10 seconds

Coming from a family of doctors, you tend to be that over paranoid "patient".

Recently, I've been having this back problem that everyday that I get up it hurts so badly. When I am about to sit down i'd be moving a speed of a snail or like those egg-on-a-spoon game last time when you had to make sure you don't spill any onto the floor do you remember?

Reached my limit when the other day, I sneezed and whoa! There was a sharp pain right there at my lower back, I almost couldn't walk for a few seconds. It's like that one sneeze has locked my back. Couldn't walk, couldn't sit. I just stood still for a moment.

My cousin has advised me against lugging heavy things like my laptop around (especially on weekends when I need all my Double A laptop/notebook/chargers/USBs etc in one bag) nor carry my nephew/niece for along period of time. Yup, I have this habit of picking them up when they cry. Breaks my heart seeing them cry, I cannot even imagine my own kids in the future. *cringe*

Anyway, I really hope that this nerve problem gets better or my (very awesome) colleague may need to continue getting my prints from the printer and Aiman would have to carry my bags in the future #justttttkiddingsayang :D

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Professionalism

Past few months have been filled with so many events and so many happenings. So many things to be done and so little time to fill it up! But if there is one thing constant about the past few months, it would be experience.


  1. For a start, professionalism is something that you should be expecting not only in professional jobs, but in everything that you do. Sadly, it is the one thing that you can no longer expect from mankind. Why I say this is because I've spoken to people who continue on doing their work without looking you in the eyes, and I find this extremely rude. And this is the simplest thing in carrying yourself professionally. You may be smart. You may be earning big buck, but hey you're plain rude.
  2. You think you're too good for the job you have. A mistake that many people do. If you're not learning or you're not contributing to the brand you represent, I don't believe you should even take up the job in the first place. A job description is there to guide you, but it was never meant to be too rigid that you choose not to do certain things because it was not listed in your JD. If it requires the extra mile to complete the task, then do it for the brand you represent.
  3. Power hunger. Many a times I see people making comments about others behind their backs with hopes that this would gain them points with their superior hence a faster promotion up the ladder.
  4. Point 3 said, who you know trumps what you know in this world. So there are also incidents whereby one is favoured more than the other because of petty reasons eg he looks more good looking than you or he knows her sister who knows your father who is some big shot somewhere. You get what I mean. 
  5. People don't love what they do. The main reason why someone can say nonsense like "you do it since you're paid more" - when in fact it is their job to do it.
  6. The higher rank you are, the more you think you could do things your way. Even if it is the wrong way.
  7. People don't ask. Instead of asking, they find ways to avoid doing the job completely. That is just beyond me. You will never ever learn how to do it then. Which brings me back to you shouldn't be taking up the job in the first place.
  8. You do not want to be pushed outside your comfort zone. So I say pluck those apples, and unless you climb up the ladder and make shift something long to reach it, then why don't you just wait for someone to donate you a helicopter to get up that few steps higher than your head. Yet you ask for a pay much higher than the mountains.
  9. You don't feel the need to fight for your brand and find solutions for people know your brand. 
  10. You think your job is always more difficult than the rest of the world. That's exactly when you've just destroyed your life.

What I've pen down here are all my own personal thoughts based on my own personal experience :)

Friday, 11 September 2015

Double A Cafe KL - dUCkie Hour!

We believe that Coffee and Writing go hand in hand like lychee and tea - at least for us!

Starting this weekend we will be introducing dUCkie Hour at Double A! Yup, you can now purchase these beautiful notebooks at the cafe. During dUCkie Hour, every notebook sold comes with a complimentary paired soda to match your choice of dUCk!

Also, one lucky customer who makes an order over the counter every weekend (for the next 4 weekends) will be entitled to receive a complimentary dUCk Kaleidoscope Notebook for free.Winner is required to post a photo with the notebook with hashtags #doubleacafekl and #duckstationery - and hey, you will be able to claim a complimentary drink at your next visit.

Quack quack!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Double A Cafe KL - Think before you say something

Gosh, I've been feeling sooo tired that I've to battle between my excitement to go to work with my very tired body. Sometimes I wish I could stop the time, just so that I can recharge and then resume back life once I'm energised. Technically, I've been working 7 days a week with a full on standing job on weekends ever since Double A opened. 

But truth be told, there is nothing that I want to change about it. 

Ever since Double A opened, Aiman and I have both been stretched out of our comfort zones with multi tasking skills. I've finally had to read the Labour Law from start till the end to make sure our staff are paid correctly on public holidays, Aiman as CFO had to make sure all our accounts tally with our Point-of-Sales system, I had to learn how a grease trap really work because it decided to overflow...twice, Aiman had to handle a kitchen door that fell because apparently the initial contractor did not use heavy-duty tools for it (how can right?!), as COO I'm constantly looking out for new things to do for Double A and yeah of broken frames, fallen steel and what have you. Again, there is nothing we want to change about it because it have all built us to become stronger and more resilient (but less tolerant to stupid comments like "oh you don't look like the kind who cleans, how come you guys need to clean kitchen so long"). Read: a commercial kitchen is nothing like a home kitchen dude.  

We started Double A because we wanted to bring the good-quality-coffee culture to KL as opposed to the cool-cafe-lifestyle that most people go for. It wasn't easy of course. We have had customers who say that we don't have enough seats at our shop, not using nice colour combination, customer who tells off our Barista because our coffee is a little bit more bitter than his usual sweet one and that it doesn't taste anything like McDonald's coffee (Yeah right, why don't you then go to McDonald's). But moving on, we later introduced food to Double A and subsequently brunch since last 2 weekends. 3 and half months old and this Double A baby of ours has grown up quite a bit and I cannot ask for anything better than what we already have now - the ups and downs, Alhamdulillah. 

If you think being an entrepreneur is all about glam and fame and appearing in magazines and papers, fuuuuuuuhhhhh I then welcome you to give it a try. I once had a customer who said "you're lucky, cause working in a corporate world is wayyy tougher than you serving cakes behind the counter". Can't help but to blurt out, "really? Then you just don't know how to manage your time properly because I'm still alive working in both places" before he realised that "S***, she works in the corporate world too". Haha!

Some people really need to think before you say something.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Double A Cafe KL - Switched roles

When we started Double A, staffing was one of the biggest challenges we had but Alhamdulillah after all the chats and interviews we managed to build a team! And my major love for the team, you have no idea!

Having a cafe with a goal to introduce home grown local brands and promote the taste of local specialty coffee, some of the biggest problems we've had were whole cakes falling flat onto the floor (right before the shop opens) and a switched that was turned off which led to the death of our premium gelato. Or maybe that dripping water from underneath our coffee machine which we could not identify where it was coming from.

But more importantly, I learned to cut cakes perfectly and ensured that these cakes stood tall on plates for people to take photos.

Fast forward to 4 weeks after, request for hot food came flooding in and we decided to take that leap since the demand for food is there - why not we bring forward the plans for kitchen from 6 months after opening to a month after! We were prepared for the stress, we were prepared to miss our Raya this year eventhough it was our first as husband and wife. Tip: Make sure you marry someone who wants to chase after the same great things. Together.

Many people warned us about not understanding that we needed to be more prepared than we think we were at that time. But I guess you can never be very prepared for anything can you? 2 weeks in and we had one of our busiest week night last week. Customers were streaming in and we had some crazy orders going out and everytime this happens, I thank Allah for giving us such a great crowd! But of course we all went back tired. Happy, thankful and tired.

Tired that two of my boys were on EL the next day. Superteam was down by two and for a moment I sat down and thought gosh, they did so well serving our customers yesterday that they must have been very very tired.

Were we ready to not have chefs for 2 days? No, of course not (are you crazy! Will people buy what I cook? AM I ready to serve a lot of customers?). But we had no other choice but to step into those roles.

So what happens next?

I became chef for 2 days!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Integrity

Sometimes you see truth just through common sense. Sometimes it needs to be investigated because it isn't as straightforward and involves more than just one possibility.

And when things need to be investigated, you (should) take out all subjects related to the investigation, out of the deal - mainly to ensure that a clean investigation can be carried out. Integrity is something I learned to understand when I started working, today it is something I strongly believe in.

Why? Because when I graduated, I started working in a bank. Money deposited from customers aren't the Bank's. The Bank is trusted to keep it, secure it and invest it. People trust you, hence why they put their hard earned money with you.

Asking for integrity and honesty from (all) leaders these days can possibly be an impossible demand.

Nonetheless, through my religion I truly believe that God will see what we cannot see - even the smallest things.

Friday, 17 July 2015

first raya

as husband and wife and as Double A.
Selamat hari raya maaf zahir dan batin from the Syed Aiman Kiflis! :)

Celebrating it back in KL together this year and InsyaAllah will be exploring Perak for Raya next year instead. 

We seek your forgiveness if we have done any wrongdoings or said anything that may have offended you. Zero zero ok! :) Travel safe and make sure you stop for a piece of cake or a cup of coffee if you feel tired on the road ok?

Much love,
Double A

Thursday, 16 July 2015

awkward bump

I've been trying to encourage Aiman to lose weight because believe it or not, he has put on quite a bit of weight. His body structure isn't big, but the tummy somehow finds a way to grow forward I don't know how.

Doesn't help of course that he has a wife who loves eating. 

But anyway, I was telling him my concerns. Plus you know, a tummy at his age....think we could wait a few more years. So the other day I told him that I think he should start going for cross fit or training under a personal trainer like he used to before we got married. 

His reply: "Well, tummy means prosperity. And in the corporate world, a little bit of tummy could work sometimes"

-_________-

Well, not if he worked at Top Glove. They'd give you a personal dietitian!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

that annoying switch

Running a cafe with everything being prepared behind the bar can be a little complicated because you have wires running everywhere! And believe me, they all look the same!

So the speakers' wire may run on top of the chiller's which is resting on the other chillers' plugs. You get what I mean.

So basically, as we were preparing for orders the other day there was this one order for an ice chocolate float - chocolate drink with milk and gelato ice cream. When I flipped the cover of the gelato open, to my horror it was more like Vanilla DRINK. My heart somersaulted, dropped, rocketed back up and roller coasted back down.

THOSE GELATOS ARE PREMIUM GELATOS GUYS!!!

I looked up and the switch was...OFF. Who switched it off? Seriously?

Haih. We're so labeling each and everyone of the plug heads after this.

Premium gelatos guys....premium.