Keeping options open

Aqilah Rahman

For many, job hunting is a difficult experience, especially for fresh graduates. Some decide to start a business while looking for a job; and Amal Ameerah Husny is one of them.

In 2018, Ameerah graduated with a degree in environmental and life sciences. She landed a temporary job in early 2019 but not long after, found herself back to square one.

Her husband then came up with an idea: Why not start a business?

At first, Ameerah wasn’t keen on it. Running a business was something foreign to her, but with her husband’s unwavering support, she decided to take the plunge.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been interested in running a business at all,” said Ameerah.

Think of a product to sell was the hard part. Luckily, they knew that selling homemade frozen karipap (curry puff) would work.

Homemade curry puff. PHOTO: AMAL AMEERAH HUSNY

“My sister started the business (of making curry puffs),” said Ameerah. “They were selling well but she switched to selling pavlova because making curry puffs requires a lot of work.”

She added, “Despite having stopped the curry puff business, there were still people placing orders with my sister.”

Since then, Ameerah and her husband has been running a business called PaciMaci. it offers just one type of curry puff – tuna mayo.

“We were new to running a business, so we decide to focus on one type. My sister said tuna mayo was the most requested flavour so we learnt how to make it,” she said.

When asked what she finds difficult about making curry puffs, she said it’s the dough. “You need two types of dough – margarine and oil-based. It takes time to mix, and we do it all by hand because we don’t have the machine for it.”

It’s also important to use the right ratio of ingredients for the dough. Otherwise, she said, the curry puff would turn out too fragile or oily.

She also finds folding curry puff to be labour intensive. “When we were just starting out, my mother-in-law helped out when free. My husband wasn’t very good at folding the edges so he mostly worked on the dough.”

Now it’s just Ameerah who cooks the filling and folds the curry puff, while her husband makes the dough. It isn’t uncommon for them to spend a whole day in the kitchen making curry puffs.

“There was this one time we worked on our curry puff in the afternoon after Zohor, and finished at Maghrib,” she said.

The amount of curry puffs they make varies depending on the orders; it can go up to 100 pieces. While Ameerah and her husband typically split their workload, there are days when she does it all by herself.

“I make the dough myself when he’s busy or running errands. Plus the filling and folding, the whole process can take a really long time.”

If it’s just her, she usually starts in the morning and finishes at 10pm or 11pm.

Ameerah recently landed a job as a research assistant and is due to start work soon.

As it’s not a full-time job she plan to either rest or make curry puffs on her off days.

“If I have a fulltime job, I’ll probably need to hire some workers (to keep the business running),” said Ameerah.

In the meantime, Ameerah will continue her curry puff business with her husband. This month marks their business’ first anniversary, and it remains promising.

On advice to jobseekers, Ameerah said, “If you love cooking, cook something to sell. If you love photography, be a freelancer. If you love going out, be a Dart driver or a runner.

“Find something to do and upgrade your skills while looking for a job. If you don’t use your skills for a long time, you’ll lose them eventually.”