Ms Lois Er could have worked in air-conditioned comfort if she had stayed in her last job with tech-startup Skycart.
But the former graphic designer was bent on giving hawker-preneurship a try, never mind the backbreaking work in punishing heat.
The 26-year-old started her Wonderfull Nasi Lemak stall at Old Airport Road last year, selling the traditional Malay fragrant rice dish that’s been a national favorite.
Not many were supportive of her career switch initially, Ms Er said. They probably saw her potential in other areas, given that she’s armed with a diploma in graphic design from Orita Sinclair School of Design & Music, as well as a degree in accountancy from Nanyang Technological University. But she decided to march on since she had the blessing of her father, who also shared her dream of running their own hawker stall.
Ms Er is part of a growing number of young Singaporeans who have opened their own hawker stalls in recent years. The young blood is much needed as more and more older hawkers are hanging up their aprons with no successors in sight.
The UrbanWire followed Ms Er for a day in her hawker-preneur life.
Every morning is a busy start for Ms Er. From getting the ingredients ready to heating up the wok, frying up a storm and serving her customers, the young and petite boss would handle them all.
Ms Er made her way to the warehouse to shop for the freshest ingredients for the week ahead. While she’s away, her family members helped tend to her stall.
Besides running the stall, Ms Er is also actively putting her business out there. She recently took part in Open Stove 2017 during the Singapore Food Festival and worked alongside renowned chef, Sid Kim of Vatos Urban Tacos.
The millennial boss has also been quick to jump onto the “tap to order” bandwagon. Her brand is listed on the UberEATs and Honestbee networks, which allow her to reach out to the digitally-savvy customers.
Not only does Ms Er “aim to serve quality food”, she wants it served with warmth and hospitality.
She often takes time to chat with her regulars, and leaves handwritten thank you notes to her customers who request for takeaways.
“I really appreciate little notes like these,” said Briana Ong, a loyal customer.
“They made the nasi lemak even more delicious.”
After serving hundreds of orders and selling out all her ingredients, Ms Er cleaned her stall in preparation for the next day. It’s a tiring but fulfilling day for the young boss.
In fact, Ms Er has bigger plans ahead.
“We have plans on expanding the business and my father and I have been keeping our eyes open for new vacancies in Singapore,” she said.
For now, she constantly reminds herself of a quote by British novelist C.S. Lewis: Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.
“Whenever things get rough, I’d remember this quote and focus on what I can learn, and hope I’ll eventually become someone extraordinary.”